The chamber of commerce is often seen as a Better Business Bureau of sorts. People have confidence in using businesses that are members of the chamber. Chamber membership equates to business respectability in many customers’ minds, which often means greater sales for business members.
Many people see chamber membership as a ringing endorsement of good business. While we don’t advertise that chamber members have better business practices than non-members businesses, a chamber membership does show interest in the local business community and for many, that equals a business endorsement.
But we’re not the only ones who think chamber membership makes for good business.
The Schapiro Group Study and Why It Should Make a Difference to You
A national study of over 2,000 adults conducted by the Schapiro Group showed that being active in a local chamber of commerce pays off if your goal is more customers. That’s because two-thirds of those surveyed believed that chamber members use good business practices, care about customers, and are involved in the community.
While some people may wonder if a study that was conducted back in 2012 still applies today, all you need to do is consider that people do business with organizations they know, like, and trust. Using good business practices, caring about customers, and being known as involved in the community sure sounds like the beginning of “know, like, and trust” principles.
The study also found that when consumers knew that a business was a chamber member they were 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the business in the future.
People see a correlation between community involvement and being a good company with worthwhile products. Consumers in the study were 10% more likely to think a business’ products were better than the competition if the business was a chamber member. The study also revealed that for national restaurant franchises that are chamber members, people are 36% more likely to look favorably on that franchise.
The researchers said, “any belief about the chamber of commerce—whether that belief was true or not—could have a significant positive impact on how someone views a member… he or she is more likely to think that the [member] company’s products stack up well and have a favorable opinion toward the company.”
Why Does Chamber Membership Make Your Business More Appealing to Customers?
These results aren’t surprising to chambers but they might be to the rest of the community. Even though they shouldn’t be. Here’s why:
Community involvement is important to people who are shopping in town at local businesses. Joining the chamber is seen as being civic-minded even if the business is not all that involved. Having a membership is proof to many people that this is a business that plans to stay in this community and contribute to it. It has roots and a stake in how things turn out.
While the chamber doesn’t endorse its members or rate them like a Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List might do, many people still see that as part of the chamber’s job. Since most chambers vote their members in, people assume there’s a vetting. Even if there isn’t a formal review process, the trust people have in the chamber is transferred to its members as well.
You’re Investing in the Community
No one is forced to join the chamber and membership isn’t free. If you join the chamber you are investing in the economic health of the area and you want to take a leadership role in the business community. People like to support businesses with a cause, so if you invest in your business through chamber membership, people are more likely to see you as being a part of something larger than yourself. The bonus is that it’s also good for your business as you’re doing good for the community.
Establishing know, like, and trust is essential to business these days. All of those take time to do. You’re fortunate if you have an established business and have had the time to do that in your community. If not, a chamber membership is a great way to have a respected business leader “vouch” for you as people generally transfer our reputation in business to our members, even if not in an official capacity.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.