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Crisis Management

Tactical and practical resources for internal chamber crisis management and resources to share with your members.

Best Practices for Membership Renewal

Chambers of commerce are taking a variety of approaches during the COVID-19 crisis, seeking to find the right balance of showcasing compassion and empathy, highlighting member value and keeping revenue flowing into the chamber. The following steps and best practices were developed from Membership Development Division (MDD) roundtable calls. For more examples and ideas, see the MDD Roundtable recordings and notes at left.


STEP ONE

Adjust the messaging in your renewal communications. Communicating to your members and highlighting the ROI of membership is imperative during times of crisis. Best practice is to include a letter with the invoice outlining:

  • What the Chamber is doing to support businesses during COVID-19
  • An extension of flexibility if the business is in dire circumstances

Adjustments to communications can include:

  • We recognize that these are unprecedented times, and the chamber is here to support your business.
  • Here are two or three specific things that your chamber is doing to showcase community leadership, support regional businesses and help our community get through this crisis.
  • Now more than ever, your support is crucial to help us continue this work.
  • If your business is experiencing issues that interfere with your ability to pay dues, we are here to help.

 

Sample Communications

STEP TWO

Choose an approach appropriate for your chamber (see below examples) and follow up with a phone call from a membership representative. Regardless of approach, best practice is direct outreach to members to see where they are at and to assess their needs. Some chambers have been able to add new members as a result of their outreach efforts and highlighting the value they are offering to their members and business communities. 

  • Talk to members about their needs and approach the call with compassion.
  • Walk the member through the Chamber's resource page, direct them to Zoom meetings and other programming.
  • If needed, offer dues solutions:
  • Deferred payment up to 90 - 120 days (this is the most common solution offered)Moving from annual renewal to monthly payments and implement auto-pay
  • Splitting payment into 2 or 3 payments
  • Reset renewal to a specified date in the future (July 2020)
  • Upgrading membership level for the same price (extend offer to all new members that were prospects prior to COVID-19 to solidify membership commitment)
  • Offer a membership grant based on membership longevity
  • Less common dues solutions include:
  • Offer free membership for up to 6 months to businesses who wish to cancel
  • Offer a discount:
  • 5% off membership for every year the organization has been a member
  • Discount based on the member’s situation – typically between 10-50% for a year
  • COVID-19 new member rate for a year

 

Check-in prior to invoicing

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber (AL) is calling all members and adjusting renewal options on a case-by-case approach. The chamber only sends invoices if the business is able to pay. Their campaign is internally called Operation Care with the following guidelines:

 RENEW: If the member can still support the Chamber due to little to no impact from COVID-19

 RESET:  If the member has been impacted, we can offer a reset to July 2020 - many members extremely appreciative

 DROP:  Normal drop reasons, no longer in business, moved, financial constraints, per choice

With this approach, 52 memberships up for renewal in March 2020 broke-down as:

  • 20 Renewals
  • 21 Resets
  • 11 Drops
  • 7 New members

 

Operate as usual, with an offer of flexibility

Grand Rapids Chamber (MI) is emailing renewal invoices with a letter outlining what the Chamber is doing to support businesses in response to COVID-19. The letter extends flexibility to create an optimal solution for the member to maintain their membership, but options are not detailed. A membership representative follows up with a phone call to determine if a flexible plan is needed. If needed, the Chamber offers:

  • Monthly payments
  • Deferred payment up to 90 (or 120 if really needed)
  • Splitting the payment into 2 or 3 payments
  • Upgraded membership to the next level  for the same price if the member can renew right now. This offer is also extended to all new members that were prospects prior to COVID-19, to incentivize membership commitment. 

Another example is Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber (NC). The Chamber is reaching out to collect from members now and offering monthly memberships as necessary. The premise is that if members see value in the Chamber now, they are more likely to pay now versus three weeks from now.

 

For more examples and ideas, see the MDD Roundtable recordings and notes at the left of this page.