Should You Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce?

Jon Fesmire |

Have you just started your self storage business, or opened a branch in a new area? Then you may be wondering if it’s worth it to join the local chamber of commerce.

But first, what exactly is a chamber of commerce? Put simply, it’s a group of businesses that work together to promote each other. Companies that are part of the chamber of commerce have extra opportunities to grow, help out in the community, and make new connections.

Do the advantages of joining outweigh the disadvantages? Let’s see.

Advantages

The first thing to know about joining your local chamber of commerce is that it’s like buying a new tool. Any tool you get, whether it be a hardware tool like a hammer, or something complex like accounting software, won’t do the work for you. All the advantages you can get from the chamber of commerce will be available to you, but you have to use them.

  • Publicity - Your chamber of commerce can increase the exposure of your business to members of the community. For example, people just moving into the neighborhood receive a packet from the chamber in the mail. This packet will contain coupons, offers, and so on from member businesses. If a family moves in needing to rent a self storage space and finds your coupon for one free month and the next three months at 20% off, they’re likely to jump on that offer. You can also get free press in chamber of commerce newsletters.

  • Referrals - When potential customers, or other businesses, ask the chamber of commerce to recommend a self storage facility, as part of the chamber, yours will get suggested over non-member businesses. Also, when you need someone to provide a service, but don’t know who to contact, your chamber of commerce can help you find the right subcontractors and so on.

  • Local Business Expos - People like going to business expos for several reasons: curiosity about businesses in the area, the hope of finding a local job, and freebies. Being part of a local business expo is a great way to meet potential customers and network with other businesses.

  • Mailing Lists - As a chamber of commerce member, you can get access to a variety of customer and business mailing lists, making any mail marketing campaign easier.

  • Education - Do you or your employees need training on safety, a particular software program, or anything else work related? See what events and training your chamber of commerce recommends. They may have access to low-priced or even free chasses.

  • Member Discounts - While you do have to pay to be a member of your chamber of commerce, member businesses often provide discounts to other member businesses.

For your part, stay active with your chamber of commerce. Help arrange charity events and expos. Offer member discounts, and submit coupons to go out to new members of the community. You will get out of it what you put in.

Disadvantages

  • High Fees - Joining your local chamber of commerce can be on the expensive side, especially for new businesses. Expect fees to be between about $300 and $1000 per year.

  • Putting In the Work - As mentioned above, it’s still up to you to put the work in, or you’ll get little out of being a chamber of commerce member.

  • The Competition - Competing self storage businesses are probably already in the chamber of commerce. This means two things. First, you will be at a disadvantage if you join, and second, you will have to work with your competitors. Some people would prefer not to do that. Think of it like this. They are your competitors, not your enemies. You can work together for the good of both companies, and for the betterment of the community.

Overall, the advantages of joining a chamber of commerce outweigh the disadvantages. You just have to put in the work necessary to get the most out of your membership. You didn’t get into self storage to avoid work, though! Look into your own chamber of commerce and weigh the pros and cons of joining, keeping in mind the specifics of your area, and do what you think will be best for your facility.