Personal Contacts, Regular Communications with Members Lead to Good Retention Rates

According to the annual member retention survey, your chamber has a very low cancellation rate. Identify one or two tactics you have implemented that have contributed to your better-than-average retention rates.

Shane Etzwiler
Great Falls Area (MT) Chamber

We have focused first on making sure the chamber is what a business is looking for, that the time is right for the business to join, and then explaining our membership tiered structure and helping the business determine which level at this point in time would be best. Our new membership director has great follow-up with both new and renewing members.

The other thing I began right after I started was a “Friday Flash—Committee Update” weekly email. We had a Tuesday Chamber E-News, but this was an update from each committee chair as to what they were working on, an event coming up, or to provide information we feel would be beneficial for our members. These updates are just a few sentences—we try to not be too lengthy—and also add a link to more info.

We have a Membership Corner at the very beginning to highlight new or renewing members, and then also have a few Member News briefs. The body contains each committee’s activities and then at the end of the Friday Flash, I give a CEO update, which is various projects or meetings I have been involved in over the last week and what is coming up the next week. It has helped answer the question “So what does the chamber do?” at least for our members. The response has been outstanding and I still get great comments about our Friday Flash and how much people enjoy it.

I also took a look at our tiered membership levels and felt there wasn’t enough value with each increase in level, so our team went through the entire seven levels and made sure there was a significant “value added” component with each level increase. This has helped tremendously in maintaining retention.

Last, I have tried to be everywhere, outwardly making sure I am visiting and introducing myself to people. Now I hear all the time—you are everywhere. Bottom line is I injected some new energy, excitement and enthusiasm back into a somewhat “tired” chamber to rejuvenate it and get it going again.

Nathan Ahle, IOM, ACE
Fresno (CA) Chamber

We’ve had great success by hiring a part-time retention specialist at our chamber. This member of our team is like a concierge, inviting members we may not hear from often to participate in our programs and events, and encouraging them to use the many benefits we have to offer. Then, when that member’s renewal is due, the member has heard from us more frequently and is more aware of what investment with the chamber can provide.

Nona Watson
Palm Springs (CA) Chamber

Member retention is a priority, and there are many factors that contribute to our success in this area. Palm Springs has an international, recognizable brand that is focused on hospitality and lifestyle. As a chamber, we design and implement programs and services for the business community that complement our brand. We believe our members find real value in this. We also believe that when you do an event or program, you need to do it better than anyone else.

We also know that there are no “expendable customers”; everyone is important and customer service is a priority—not only for our members, but for our community. Our office is a Co-Work space, a Visitors Center and a Chamber of Commerce, so we are always busy. When a member walks through our doors, we make the member feel important and address the member’s needs as soon as possible.

Creating valuable programs and services and providing great customer service are two ways we ensure we are serving our members’ needs. When it comes time for the members to renew their membership, we want them to know their investment in the Palm Springs Chamber has real value.

Kara Stoller
Steamboat Springs (CO) Chamber

New this year, we recruited our board members to help with our Member Outreach Week. We enlisted them to call nearly 200 of our members. Staff reached out to an additional 400 members. The goal of the calls was to discuss how members’ businesses were doing, satisfaction with the chamber and what the organization can do to better support their business.

Feedback on the week in general has been very positive, but I think that the business owners hearing directly from the board members really stepped up that outreach impact and supported our retention rates.

Mindy McCloughan
President and CEO
Loveland (CO) Chamber

Membership retention is a tricky thing as finding the secret sauce to making all your members see the return on their investment (ROI) can be difficult and sometimes impossible.

First, we have found that if we spend quality time with each member as soon as they join the chamber, we have a greater shot at retaining the member in the years to follow.

Yes, it is somewhat time consuming, but our membership director will actually make time to build a relationship with every new investor as well as potential investors and customize a plan with them so that their ROI is very clear.

Second, our ambassadors are very well-versed on the needs of our members. After all, the ambassadors are members themselves. Once the director has identified key indicators for the specific needs of the investor, then our ambassadors become the mentors for the investors, which is exactly where the ROI is realized.

Third, our team has created a culture of caring for each investor to help the investors utilize their time wisely to reach their full potential. Your team is only as strong as the weakest link, so it’s important to me as a leader to empower my team and our investors with the tools it takes for great success.

The old business adage that success in business is the result of what you know and who you know has been revised to: success in business is the result of what you know, who you know and who knows YOU!