Zach Snyder, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce #03

by | Jan 8, 2021

Non-dues revenue ideas for chambers of commerce with Zachary-Snyder-Grand-Rapids-Chamber-of-commerce

Topics discussed include:

  • COVID Grant Program
  • CEO Roundtables / CEO Summit
  • Consulting service for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Membership: targeted business focus
  • E.O.S. – Entrepreneurial Operating System

Zach Snyder, Membership Engagement Manager at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Discusses non-dues revenue from a major-metro chamber’s perspective.

Listen to the full discussion here:

Watch the full discussion here:

Connect with the Guest:

Zach Snyder: LinkedIn


Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

Key Takeaways:

You will learn these non-dues revenue ideas:

  • How COVID-19 grants can generate non-dues revenue
  • How CEO Roundtables help businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses
  • Monetizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training
  • How member retention improves by targeting specific businesses
  • How EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System re-focused this Chamber


Read the full transcript below
Full Transcript

Ed Burzminski 0:05
Welcome to more non dues revenue, a semi monthly seminar series sponsored by Chamber Marketing Partners, where we interview Chamber of Commerce leaders and visionaries to share their creative entrepreneurial strategies for generating non dues revenue. Be sure to catch the more non dues revenue seminar, the first and third Thursdays of the month at 10:30am pacific time. Links to replays will be emailed to all registrants and will also be available at chamber marketing partners comm slash podcasts.

Today’s sponsor is Chamber Marketing Partners, generating substantial non dues revenue for chambers of commerce publications without using a turnkey publisher. The model is unique where the chamber has complete control full financial transparency is better able to monitor member investment in the chamber gets a cleaned up and monetize member database uses local vendors and can get award winning publications, all without using a turnkey publisher. Now might that be of interest to you? Visit chamber marketing partners.com to learn more and follow us on LinkedIn. So before we begin, in the comments section, please tell us who you are and what organization you are with.

And make sure in the comments that you select attendees and panelists. We want everybody to see who you are and where you’re with. post your questions in the q&a section, and we’ll answer them following the interview. I’m your host Ed Burzminski of chamber marketing partners. Now let’s get started.

Today’s guest is Zack Snyder, the membership Engagement Manager at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, a major Metro chamber in Michigan. Zach joined the chamber team in 2017. After working in the banking industry for many years on the retail side, helping consumer and business clients with deposit credit and lending needs in the Chicago area. He continued in banking, finding his passion, helping people in business. Recently, Zach has been helping businesses navigate through the Coronavirus in his role at the Grand Rapids chamber. He continues to grow his family with two kids and lives in Grand Rapids. We’re excited to have Zach with us on the show today. Welcome, Zack. Excited to be here.

Zach Snyder 2:16
Thanks so much for having me yet. It’s a real pleasure.

Ed Burzminski 2:19
We’re really happy to have you too. So let’s jump right in. Zach, the Grand Rapids chamber is a major Metro chamber with different resources than a typical city chamber. Tell us a little bit about your specific chamber. How many members you have your staff, the major industries in town and that kind of stuff?

Zach Snyder 2:37
Yeah, absolutely. So Grand Rapids chamber, we serve all of West Michigan were the second largest chamber in the state, behind the Detroit Metro chamber. Something that’s a little bit different. With us versus even Detroit, we don’t do any of the economic development. We also don’t touch any of the tourism, we have two awesome organizations that do that. And we’ll just let them be the pros. And then we do kind of all the other chamber stuff, if you will. So we have our business services, which is more of our capacity building, obviously, the ribbon cuttings and networking. But then some things that are a little bit different are that we have our advocacy group, which I believe is second to none. We’ve got five lobbyists on staff to help our members anywhere from in their backyard to federally with many different committees and cohorts, different councils as well, really convening as many people as possible to say what is necessary for business in West Michigan. And one of the newer ones is not just our talent development, but also our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. So we’ve always had a big heart for diversity, equity inclusion having summits every year, but now we do a series of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion seminars, as well as that the summit, and we also have now have some programs that you can actually where we’ll go in house for our members and do an assessment for their diversity, equity and inclusion where they’re at where they could be and kind of make those action steps for them to move forward in that area. we’ll take anybody we’d love to have everybody possible. So we’ve got businesses anywhere from one person to you know, the largest employer here, you know, hundreds of 1000s of employees. So…

Ed Burzminski 4:37
so it sounds like you have a lot of resources, you have a lot of a lot more resources in the regular Mainstreet Chamber of Commerce does, which is why we actually wanted to have you on board because you’re doing some interesting things. And your chamber runs a COVID-19 grant program. Tell us what the grant program is, who benefits what the chamber does and more importantly, How does the chamber gets compensated for that?

Zach Snyder 5:02
Yeah, absolutely. So early on in COVID, we identified the need, obviously, for businesses to be supported. And we just started hitting the phones and really calling a lot of our our major members, but also philanthropic community. Grand Rapids is actually the fifth most philanthropic city in the country. Amway, you probably have heard of is one of our largest employers, and big philanthropists. You’ll notice also a lot of things here in Grand Rapids are named after like the divorces and the vandals and because they are so philanthropic, so just really working with them to a help fund our through our foundation, to find money. And we were giving grants away from five to $10,000, to help with those immediate needs. But then they also connected us with other folks who could invest, and we raised about a million and a half dollars on our own within a couple of weeks, for businesses and when you use your foundation, and you also have to make it well known that around 10% of those, those funds raised and distributed do go back to the chamber as you know, overhead. So we were able to keep more people working during the pandemic, early pandemic, and take some of the payroll for the people who are working on that grant program so that we can pay that that was a big one. We also helped with the right place, which is our economic development partner, and they had about another million and a half dollars that was given by the state of Michigan. And while we didn’t necessarily get any revenue from that, specifically, the county that when they had their money that they wanted to deviate from the cares Act, which I’ll touch more on in a second, they saw that we had done our work help somebody else with their grant program, and had approached us to talk more about our capacity to potentially give out about $10 million dollars. And after a number of conversations turned into $25 million, and then turned into just under $35 million that we gave out in total. For our businesses here in West Michigan.

Ed Burzminski 7:01
Who were the targets for the grants, the grants, or anyone?

Zach Snyder 7:05
So the first grant, we ended up learning that, when we tried to do I think it was five to 25 employees, because a lot of those were really missed on PPP and other like the EDL. But even understanding some I don’t wanna say our missteps, but just we didn’t really foresee that a lot of those businesses, especially minority owned businesses, were in that zero to five category. And so we express that to the county that we need to include those zero to five employee companies, because they had really been left behind with pretty much every other program. And so we had established that we need to help zero to 25 employee companies. And what we did was we created a point system, so that our minority owned companies were getting extra points for their involvement in their community, being a minority owned business, woman owned business, any minority status of business, so that they had a higher likelihood of being approved for the grant money. And then that would be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. For those companies.

Ed Burzminski 8:08
Can you walk us through the process? For a lot of the chambers that are participating on the podcast today? are smaller chambers. So how would a walk us through the process of how you got this process going? And how another chamber could kind of follow your steps and repeat maybe on a smaller scale to gain access to grants? What would they need to do? Who would they need to talk to? And then what process would they need to go through?

Zach Snyder 8:37
Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I mean, you kind of have to set the stage and show that you have the capacity to do it. So really creating an application and not necessarily spending the money on the infrastructure until you know that you have to go there ready to go. But just again, having that plan in place, you know, maybe it’s depending on your size of your chamber to and the amount of money you foresee. I’ve I mentor someone in a smaller chamber and they did everything through Excel, which that there’s no way that would have worked for us we use something like a project management system like Trello. So just kind of understanding the large chambers are going to need something a little bit more robust. But going to local community Foundation’s because they a lot of them have certain areas that they really only invest in real estate education, or they really invest in families or hunger or whatever that might be. A lot of them were pivoting because they needed to react to the situation and kind of step outside of their bounds of what they normally will donate to. So that was a big one for us to just reach out to all those foundations. And again, those other known philanthropists and larger companies, larger companies also have their own foundation. So everyone hears by heard of like Steelcase, Steelcase and Meijer they have their own separate foundations where they might not necessarily will give extra money to the chamber through those foundations they’re giving corporately, but then those things since it’s to help others are willing to donate. So able to raise that money there.

Ed Burzminski 10:10
So it’s an interesting approach, where you targeted a nonprofits or foundations at companies and you went to them knowing or kind of assuming that they needed to spend and invest somewhere put their money somewhere, but you approach them with this new opportunity, or this new way to divert their funds into something that helps the community through the Chamber of Commerce.

Zach Snyder 10:37
Especially when you think about it. If you give in one way, it really does invest in other ways. So if you’re talking about hunger, for example, we have a lot of people who are out of work. And if they are out of work, because they’re, they can’t make payroll, or they’re, they’re running a business, and they can’t pay their employees, this in a way does help fix that gap. If it’s childcare, there’s people who can’t afford childcare, because they’re not working. And a lot of times, children are getting a majority of their meals from school or from daycare. And so this again, in a roundabout way does help that situation. And so it was like, where do we normally give, that’s great. But this is a little bit more urgent right now. So and they don’t always have the capacity to do the programs themselves. And that’s why they invest in people to do those programs. They have the capacity to go now,

Ed Burzminski 11:28
Does the chamber, as part of this process of the chamber have to have a foundation set up in order to receive those funds?

Zach Snyder 11:36
It depends on the who’s giving the money, because a lot of times foundations will give where the money has to be earmarked in a certain way. And it has to go to another foundation. So that’s going to be vary from case to case, or a company that has a foundation will only give it to a nonprofit, for example, or a certain type of nonprofit because a lot of chambers are like 501, c six, we have a 501 c three through our chamber foundation.

Ed Burzminski 12:46
So as part of this process to in it through COVID and the challenges that you guys face, you had CEO roundtables that were live, and I understand that you pivoted those CEO roundtables to being online. How did that work? Who the CEO roundtables for and how do you monetize it?

Zach Snyder 13:05
Yeah. So CEO roundtable has been around for a little while here, I would say around 15 to 18 years. And the way that we always do it and their CEO management Roundtable. So we have a CEO table, CFO table, all the C’s, right? And but even just marketing. So really, we just try and make a best fit for everybody. And the cool thing is you’re almost making a little mini board, right? And you’re bouncing ideas off of similar positional positioned individuals who we also tried to do so we have many CEO roundtables because the CEO of Meijer is going to have a whole lot to share with the CEO of you know, XYZ new company, right? So we try and get everybody with similar like revenues, because they’re going to have similar issues that they can talk about. And so without trying to lose any momentum with that program, which is one of our longest running programs. We made it all virtual, because the value is still there, even more. So now because now we’re talking about COVID related issues, and how are you dealing with that? We’ve even added to those tables, even more so in the past year. So we had about I think 12 tables with eight to 10 people each and we’re I think around 20 now with their full with about 12 to 15, folks,

Ed Burzminski 14:20
So how do charge for that?

Zach Snyder 14:21
A lot of our membership levels get one or more included. So our executive level is $1500 for the year, but it also includes one CEO Roundtable. So every additional one is 150 on top of that, or if you’re our small business level of membership, which is 750 per year, it’s our entry level. It’s that add on one

Ed Burzminski 14:43
and how frequently do you have the roundtables?

Zach Snyder 14:46
once a month,

Ed Burzminski 14:47
so depending on the level of membership, you get one free and you have to pay additionally, so it’s an introduction. Yeah, and if they see value, then they p ay for it. Yeah and

Zach Snyder 15:22
I think that that goes into Elevate a little bit, which we did talk offline about, but another program that we have, and I think what happens is, is that you have, we’ll just call them businesses, a majority are white owned businesses. They almost like innately know that that’s a valuable thing to do, and almost do it automatically. And then the flip side, is if they know someone, and they just start talking about business challenges, they’re like, well, I’ve helped, you know, done something like that before, why don’t you and I just kind of, we don’t have to call it a mentorship, but they still kind of do a very informal mentorship. And so that’s kind of the idea that it is almost it’s a given a take, right, and now that you’ve got this trusted group of people, it’s all you know, non disclosure, but and very safe space. But for whatever reason, or if it’s a cultural thing or not, minority owned businesses don’t tend to do that, or ask for help or offer to help others as readily. I wouldn’t venture a guess as to why. But with, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And with trying to encourage these folks to do this, and meeting people where they are, and just kind of doing it for them and encouraging them to share, they’ve benefited greatly. So elevate is a specific program where we have eight to 12 minority owned businesses every year, and they get free business coaching for two years, there’s a one year cohort. And so the I guess, the non dues revenue, part of this is that this is a foundation that pays us to put this on for these minority owned companies with that, you know, the revenue of that kind of 10 ish percent.

Right, while still getting some of the money for kind of that overhead.

Ed Burzminski 17:09
So elevate is a specific program for businesses that’s funded through the foundation. And the the, the roundtables are separate. And those are that’s a we non dues revenue generated for profit type of thing. How is the how’s the roundtable moderated, who’s who moderated how’s it handled?

Zach Snyder 17:33
the roundtables themselves are moderated by a chosen person, usually one of the more senior folks on the table, because people will come and go as you know, natural as it will be. And then we just kind of say, you know, hey, the moderator left, would you like to moderate and they they’re kind of responsible for bringing up topics every month. Some of them have really a lot of fun with it, too. Like, if you miss a meeting, you know, throw 20 bucks in the pot. And then, you know, they do a special Christmas thing with, you know, people who you know, the money that was made, and they go get drinks or something. So, obviously, that all works differently now. But they’re just chugging along doing it all virtually, I think it was probably a combination of virtual and in person as well. But an idea as well. We started a new table this year, that I’m actually on, and it’s a sales referral round table. It’s kind of similar to a program that we had called business by referrals, very similar to probably like a lead tip or be an AI or something without as much pressure, in my opinion. And but now we added the skill building of sales in that. And so that’s a whole new table. And then on top of that, to complement it, we added a sales management Roundtable. So people who manage sales people also have the table. So now you’ve got my wheels turning though head, we could have a minority business owner table specific. So we do have minorities who are business owners in the tables, but not necessarily as specific as being a minority business ow ners. That’s a great idea.

Ed Burzminski 19:04
So, to coach some of the chambers that are on with us today, so the smaller chambers, if they don’t have a business roundtable or a CEO Roundtable, tell us quickly how how would one go about setting it up, and about how much energy is involved from chamber staff to make that happen?

Zach Snyder 19:26
There’s gonna be a lot of energy upfront because you’re going to have to find those champions, if you will, to be probably most likely your facilitator. And one thing that we do to thank them is that their annual fee is covered by us. And so then they would also kind of be in charge of trying to help build the table. So you’re gonna have to be very targeted with Okay, I’ve got, I want to do a CEO table for one plus million in revenue, you’re gonna have to figure out who that is in your membership or out of Your membership. So that would be a nice prospecting tools like, Hey, we’re getting this table together of CEOs who are a million plus. So would you like to be a part of that, of course it requires membership or, again, if it’s someone that you’re targeting, and if they’re a higher level member with your organization, maybe you are saying, hey, as a thank you for your investment with us. We’d like to have you and and really putting an email blast out to everybody as well. That was another way we rebuilt our tables last year was everyone who got a free member or a free registration for CEO roundtable said, Hey, you will get a free roundtable you’re not using it. Let’s get some people in here. flooded with people like oh, yeah, we got to do that. And so that’s that was step one of really rebuilding that program. So once it’s built out, though, it’s really just a check in once a month or so, hey, how’s everything going? And it’s almost like a ambassador program, if you will, I mean, you really, probably not even as involved once it’s running, you know, because then when your salespeople say, hey, if you use that as a sales tactic, right, you say, you know, something that we have that I think would be great for you when you’re making a recommendation is not just for joining the chamber, but join the chamber and do these steps. And one of those would be great to get you or get your salespeople on our CEO roundtables, or let’s say our sales Roundtable. So then you whoever’s facilitating that you say, hey, in our case, Mark, I’ve got so and so was interested, could you find a really good fit, and then you let him you know, know who’s on the table, if it’s not just like, Hey, we’re placing you here, we got a couple of tables that you could be, that would be good for you, let’s, you know, here’s this person, this person, or on these different ones and kind of go from there. So you’re making them part of the decision as well.

Ed Burzminski 21:43
So like, if a chamber wants to set something like like that up, there’s a lot of initial work that legwork that needs to be done to identify who are the potential candidates, what the revenue level is going to be, for those CEO level people that are coming in, whether it’s a million dollars, whether it’s $500,000, depending on your community. And and getting that going, getting a moderator facilitator going. Initially, it may be chamber CEO or chamber staff that kind of seeds it and gets it going. But afterwards, it’s somebody from within the group who becomes the moderator. And it almost kind of starts going on its own, but checking in periodically to see how it’s going, how it’s progressing. And leveraging the the network of those CEOs to go out and find other prospects and candidates to come in to the group as well as the membership people at the chamber who are using the CEO roundtable as a benefit, and a benefit of membership, depending on what level membership you choose.

Zach Snyder 22:49
Yeah, I think one of the most powerful ones and probably a good starting point would be starting with a CEO table that your chamber CEO sits on, who doesn’t want to have once a month, you know, fully dedicated time with the chamber CEO, and targeting people not necessarily saying like, hey, chamber CEOs got a roundtable who wants to join it, everyone’s gonna say yes, but you know, that big health system or large manufacturer, the personal, you know, invite from the CEO would be very beneficial. And that could be how you also advocate. After having these talks, you know, what’s going on here in, you know, middle Illinois, right. And really, that’s how you can get that insight and then take it a step further to really drive some legislation change if necessary, or if that’s in the capacity of your chamber are not

Ed Burzminski 23:39
well, and as a small business owner, myself, and having been involved in CEO roundtables in the past, private ones, not through the chamber. They were expensive. But I have to tell you, having a room full of the brain horsepower of other CEOs at different levels, and from different companies, we had hired gun CEOs, we had owner operator CEOs. And it’s, it really is beneficial to be able to talk openly, because when you have issues, you can’t talk to a spouse, they freak out. You can’t talk to staff necessarily, because their staff they’re paid. Sometimes they’re not necessarily going to object or be honest and hold you accountable. That’s the most important thing is being held accountable. So to have a room full of peers, who are there to help and solve issues, but from various different backgrounds, I can say as a personal experience was extraordinarily valuable. And it was worth quite a bit of money for me at the time. So people will pay good money if there’s good value.

Zach Snyder 24:43
Yeah, I’ll say too, I think you know, there are other CEO table programs in Grand Rapids, but you’re going to pay more than your chamber membership plus the 150. Yes, something like that. And so that’s where it’s a big value add. only asking for For an additional 150, and still, it’s extremely inexpensive when you think about it, right? hugely inexpensive.

Yeah. Right. And it’s, it’s like, you know, it’s lonely at the top, just like you said, You can’t talk to your spouse, sometimes you can’t talk to your employees. And so that, especially for like a CEO, specifically, or any C suite, you know, that that lonely at the top feeling is, I think, where it comes in. But I, I had a really good rapport with a CEO of a larger restaurant chain here, with privately owned restaurant chain. And I said, Chris, what are you doing for you, you are always helping everybody else. But and you guys, you know, come in here and use our office space every once in a while, but like, what are you doing for you? Why are you going to this? Why aren’t you going to this? And you can I had really good report, I don’t encourage you guys to call out your CEO members. But you know, I said, You know, I, I gotta, you know, I do this group. And but other than that, I said, Why don’t you try our CEO roundtable will find you a good fit. And, you know, just be with other people were in a similar position to you at the very least, it’s good for the soul, right? And a little self care almost. And then we also do leadership lessons. So we have higher level CEOs who come and talk about their best practices. Yeah. They’ve kind of learned, as a programmer said, you got to go to those. And then you know, also going to be there other CEOs and C suite folks. And those are other people, you can kind of make some more relationships. Sure. And so he got a lot of satisfaction out of that. That’s very valuable. Zach, I wanted to jump to another topic, one that is very, kind of timely right now that the chamber is working on, tell us about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, who it’s for, what are the benefits? And what does the chamber do? And how is it monetized? Yeah, absolutely. So we have always, again, like I said earlier, had a heart for diversity, equity and inclusion. But with it growing so much with the state of the country, and just issues that we’ve all been seeing. It’s not only the right thing to do, from my opinion, a personal standpoint, because all people are deserving of everything is valuable. But there’s also a business sense to that, you know, employment is, we’ll just not with COVID. But just in general employment was really rough, especially for finding folks acquisition and retention, and really embracing the fact that we need to hire anybody, regardless of background race, I mean, everything right. And so, but it goes further than that. It goes into your supplier diversity, your hiring practices, I mean, so much right? Even in training your employees to be more welcoming, and also feeling like they have more of a home where they work. And so a lot of people and companies are hiring these DDI officers, and maybe they’re there. They had good intentions, right. So something that we had done for quite a few years, as we were at our di summit, you could take an assessment, and you would get anywhere from one to a five star rating. And we recommend everyone who got like a three or higher or moved from, let’s say, a two to a three, three to a four, so on and so forth. And they’d get a little award and be recognized at our DDI summit. And so we took that idea a little bit further, and said, hey, you’re a chamber member? Why don’t you just let you rely on us for other things, right? You rely on us for talent development, you rely on us for advocating for you at our capital and federally and locally. So why can’t we just take that a step further and help you in more, you don’t have to hire expensive consultant or add a whole FTE. And so we do this assessment in it, there’s five different areas that it will assess you on dei. And then basically after that will prescribe an action plan through either some of our programming or some of our partners programming. And so that assessment, I’m actually should probably get it pulled up. So I know the dollar amounts has been a while since I looked at it cuz I was working on the grant pretty much full time.

I think it’s on our website right now that I can give you the ballparks though, because I think we’re updating all of our programming for 2021.

Ed Burzminski 29:22
But you have somebody that’s on staff, right. And again, you’re a major Metro. So you’re you’re you have the benefit of having somebody on staff, who can be a consultant to businesses, to your member businesses who can actually go out, make this assessment and help these businesses with their plan and their program. Maybe they don’t have that kind of an officer on staff. Because most small businesses don’t. Even most midsize businesses don’t I mean, you have to have about 75 to 100 employees before you have an HR director or an HR manager on board. So you’re able to provide that kind of a service and you’re monetizing that service, right. You’re charging For that?

Zach Snyder 30:00
yeah, so it’s a it’s 3000 issue for non members. And then members get a discount of 500. And then with some of our higher levels of membership, they get an even deeper discount, or even for free, we’ve even had it where a member had upgraded from, like our 15 $100 level of membership to our $25,000 level of membership, because they were going to get that for free. And some other great benefits along with that, like using our space, for example, where they can use aren’t we have a conference center, if it’s up to 130, people, they can use that unlimited all year with that level of membership. And so for them, they’re like, man, bang for the buck, let’s do that. So that is a dues revenue, but just to give you an idea of where that conversation might go, because that might be a different kind of conversation than just, hey, give me you know, $3,000. And then each program is also different price points. So we’ll do our implicit bias training, and believe it’s around 15 $100 per event per company.

We have some other ones and I apologize, I don’t remember off the top of my head, but just different. We have five different programs where we’ll go in and and kind of make that assessment and also do the class for you. And if it’s something we don’t do, we don’t really focus on that supplier diversity, for example, we will we have someone that we worked for out to

Ed Burzminski 31:20
I was going to ask you about that, so in a smaller chamber that say, for instance, might be looking to have this kind of a program for its members can look to its membership or look within the community for somebody or a company that can provide this kind of diversity training or diversity assessment, or, and and partner with them to provide that to their members. Is there any kind of a certification or any kind of documentation? And is there anything at the city state or federal level that those businesses can benefit from, from having gone through and being quote certified through this program?

So that’s actually brand new within the last month or so. So don’t tell anybody yet but anybody who’s on the webinar, who is interested in learning more about this package program, just type in I do into the, into the into the chat.

Zach Snyder 32:47
I think it can be very turnkey. So if someone is, you know, looking to do that you maybe could do the assessment yourself as a chamber, but then have make sure that you have partners who are ready to go find community, people as well. So great. Okay, well, that sounds like it actually very, very positive program, what’s been the feedback so far on that? It’s, especially because of COVID. And in light of recent events, right with, with Black Lives Matter, and just the tragedies going around the country. It’s been amazing. I mean, the fact that we can still do this type of programming for our members when it would be so hard to do that virtually in house, that we can be that third party expert, Ken, for example, has certifications that nobody in the Midwest has he like went down to like Maryland to do this special training. I couldn’t tell you what it is. But I mean, it was so heartwarming to see if anyone is familiar with some of the things that happened here in Grand Rapids and very similarly around the country. But we had some destruction downtown. And to Ken’s credit, the news and media outlets locally, we’re calling Ken specifically. And I mean, I know this of Ken, he’s the best. I mean, no surprise to me. And like we’re here with Ken James, from the Grand Rapids chamber talking about, you know, how this impacts everybody was so amazing. He’s one of the best people I know, honestly, from heart. I mean, how much he cares and how knowledgeable he doesn’t he doesn’t stop. Like he’s learning more, we get feedback based on the programming make it better. So because I think we have to go deeper these days. You know, there are a lot of things we even two years ago, it’s like, Hey, we’re checking the box. But now it’s like no, it needs to go deeper, how to be even better. And that’s what he’s striving to do. So.

Ed Burzminski 34:45
Speaking of switching from non dues revenue to dues revenue. Over the last eight months or so, your chamber refocused its membership directive to targeting specific businesses only drove that decision. Tell us a little bit about what that kind of targeting is? What’s the criteria? And how’s it working? And what’s it doing for retention?

Because your on the membership development side of the business, do you pitch? Or do you ask questions? How do you go about your process?

Zach Snyder 38:09
I personally and a lot of us probably do this on our team, we used to always bring the folder right, and you got the folder with everything, and it’s on the table. And this is more than an in person, you know, example, but I stopped just having the I stopped the folder until I was ready to go get it. And also with our space. It’s like we don’t do a lot of off site meetings. And again, this before COVID we did invite people in Have you seen our office, we’ve we’re going to be here three years, it will be in March, it is a huge member of benefits. So we always say hey, I’d love to come meet you and see your company. But our office is actually really big benefit. I’d love to have you in for coffee, or a beer, or beer city if you guys didn’t know that. And so they come in and see the space and how they can use it. And then I just uncovered coming from banking.

We’ve learned the consultative model, and it actually is I used to work at a major retail bank. And so I was actually tested on you have to ask those yes or no questions which are called closed ended questions, your open ended questions which give a little bit more but then the high gain questions were really makes somebody think and when you This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my least favorite jobs, but no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. We ask those questions is showing that you care. And so, you know you say basically sales is where are you now Where do you want to be? And how can I get you there? Right? What How does my product fit into that plan? And you won’t know where they want to be unless you ask those high gain and open ended questions. Obviously the closed ended ones are good. So I need to know what your addresses and how many employees you have. But also you know, it shows that you’re going deeper. So what would an ideal situation look like for you?

Ed Burzminski 12:03
And then so with the chamber has its foundation, the foundation will pay the chamber 10% for administrative costs, and that is that as a kind of a sideline, non dues revenue generator

Zach Snyder 12:17
for the Exactly, yeah, especially with us losing so much revenue from events, we were slated to have 160 events this year, at a normal year were around 100. So it was supposed to be a big year in 2020. And going to I mean, basically nothing had to make up that that revenue in some way. We did have to furlough some folks for a couple of months. But the wonderful thing was through this grant, we were able to get enough money to bring everybody back.

Ed Burzminski 15:00
Who? Who’s actually? Well, you and I talked offline before and you were saying there’s a particular community business community that was benefiting from these, particularly the minority community. Can you explain to us why particularly the minority community was benefiting? Or is benefiting from these and how

Zach Snyder 32:00
That might be a little bit over my head, I don’t believe so. But I know that there are businesses that because we will also help certify businesses as minority owned women owned, so that they can benefit. So that’s kind of a side thing that we’ve always helped people with. But you’re reminding me also, that we are actually in the process of basically packaging this so that other chambers can replicate it on their own.

I’d say that we actually did probably closer to two and a half, three years ago, but then kind of redid it again, because of COVID. But really, we identified our target market who is staying with the chamber based on our data that we already have. And it’s usually that executive level 1500 or more, that they are we have the highest retention rate probably close to 90%. Right. And so we also figured out what our average cost to serve a member is, is that 15 $100 or so it’s a little over. And so if we’re thinking about working smarter, not harder, Who should we target, right? And so we have to figure out who are those 15 $100 level and above members or companies, and then go from there. And so because the other folks, we absolutely want to help them, no doubt about it. But they are more likely to come to us or be referred to us, or we will find them in an organic way, through all the events that we attend either our events or other people’s events. So those will happen, and we will absolutely love to take care of them. But really, where do we spend the time acquiring and deepening our relationships with that target market. So for us, is 20 plus employees within 30 miles of Grand Rapids. And who, which you won’t uncover until you have a meeting, but they have a CEO or C suite that is involved, that are affected by local issues, and that they care. Because if someone doesn’t really care, not that it’s just you’re going to be you’re going to be really pulling teeth to get someone to join. And then who knows where if they’ll stick. But if it’s someone like no, we Yeah, I love this, I love this, I want to get involved in this, you’ll uncover that in that first meeting, or even phone call, that you’re a great fit. And then you even will sometimes I mean, this is kind of an old school sales tactic. But it is right, it’s the right thing to do is say, you know, I don’t know if this is the right fit. I mean, I want to figure out if this is the right fit. But if it’s not, that’s okay. Because a we don’t burn any bridges. And what let’s talk next year, maybe hearing me in a different place next year, right. And so really focusing on that helped us increase our retention, we actually have really high retention, even considering COVID. And members can see what we’ve been doing to really it’s that intangible piece, right? How do you sell that intangible? Well, we’re doing it right now. And this example will not be lost on anybody. we mobilize, we raised money we gave out, you know, we also facilitated a grant. And so those businesses will invest at that higher level and will remain at that higher level or as you grow the relationship, increase the higher levels.

You as a company in the next five years, free want to be.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

About the interviewer:

Ed Burzminski is President/CEO of Chamber Marketing Partners, Inc., a publishing project management and consulting firm helping chambers of commerce generate substantial non-dues revenue from publications without using a turnkey publisher.  CMP’s unique model gives chambers total control, full financial transparency, utilizes local vendors and lets the chamber decide how much money to make.  Learn more….


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