Earlier this year, I announced my intention to retire after 28 years as the CEO with the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce. It was important to me, as I carefully crafted my “exit plan,” to leave the chamber in a strong position for the new hire.
Last year, as chamber executives, we heard time and time again that the best thing to come out of the pandemic was that chambers were forced to move away from events and switch focus to what our businesses need the most: advocacy — at the local, state and federal levels.
The challenge is that in most cases, additional revenues, unfortunately, are not raised from our advocacy efforts.
Another “benefit” of the pandemic was that it forced us to stay in touch with other chamber executives to collaborate and come up with solutions for staffing, virtual programming, etc.
Our chamber’s biggest win during this season came from a “Zoom” that I had with my friend Marni Sanders from the Yuba-Sutter Chamber. During this meeting, she shared that her chamber was going to host a membership campaign in early May.
Did I think she was crazy? Perhaps … but also intrigued, as COVID had continually made us look at things differently and work outside the box.
Yuba-Sutter’s campaign, put on by Your Chamber Connection, was a wild success and Marni’s timing was perfect — her volunteers responded to the call to get involved and businesses were ready to join. During her two-day campaign, they recruited 226 new members with a total income of $126,000. WOW, WOW, WOW!
So what did I do? We hired Your Chamber Connection to host a campaign for us the first week in October. We recruited 228 new members that brought in an income of $176,350. What a way to welcome our new CEO, Rana Ghadban, and set her up for success!
Not only did Your Chamber Connection help bring in new members, but they also assisted in their retention by providing us with a “welcome strategy” post-campaign. Our staff and ambassadors are now hard at work implementing a strong retention plan, which includes monthly new member orientations and individual outreach to our new members to ensure their engagement.
But just as important as the income was the chamber education that occurred with the 113 volunteers who participated. Your Chamber Connection spent time outlining the benefits of membership with all of our volunteers so that each of them was able to easily articulate reasons to be a part of the chamber.
I believe this education will prove invaluable in the years to come as they help even more people understand our value.
For two days, the room was full of professionals believing in the chamber and in their community. Was it wacky? You bet! Did people have fun? Absolutely! And the competition was over the top!
Is it for everyone? Well, that’s your call — but if you want to move away from events and focus on what our businesses need most from us, which is advocacy, I would encourage you to meet with Your Chamber Connection and take your chamber to the next level.
Wendy Gerig is the former CEO of the Roseville Area (CA) Chamber of Commerce.