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The Four Critical Challenges Facing Chambers of Commerce Today

As a Chamber of Commerce leader, you have a lot on your plate. It is up to you to keep your Chamber organized, look for growth opportunities, and facilitate interactions with your Chamber members to ensure that their needs are met.  

As Chamber leaders ourselves, we have noticed four critical challenges facing Chambers of Commerce today. However, even the best Chamber leaders may not be aware of all four.  

These critical challenges are: 

1. Lack of ability to invest in and implement technology 

2. Lack of industry-standard metrics 

3. Leadership turnover 

4. Complacency 

In this post, we will look at each Chamber of Commerce challenge and discuss how to improve and grow your Chamber based on each challenge. Keep reading to learn how to keep your Chamber ahead of the biggest threats it faces today! 

Chambers Struggle to Invest in and Implement New Technology 

One of the biggest challenges that is threatening all Chambers today, investing in and implementing new technology is a serious hurdle that Chambers need to overcome if they want to thrive in today's economic climate. 

Technology advancement is rapid. There are dozens of new technologies coming out every year, so identifying those that your Chamber needs and then quickly implementing them is daunting. There is little room for error as these technologies are not cheap. 

To overcome this challenge, your Chamber needs to recognize the importance of implementing new technologies, create a budget to do so, and work with experts to identify which areas need to be addressed most urgently. 

Watch the full video to learn more about the reasons why Chambers struggle to implement new technology and the issues they will face if they are not keeping up with advancements. 

Lack of Industry Standard Metrics for Chambers of Commerce 

This may be the biggest issue facing Chambers today. Chambers are struggling to identify how they compare to other Chambers simply because as a collective we lack the infrastructure to statistically compare them. 

Ohio currently has 315 Chambers (the most out of any state) and yet no one knows what standard performance looks like. While it is true that every Chamber is unique, statistics like market penetration and due vs non-due revenue percentage should be used by every Chamber. 

Currently, SOCA is collecting data from all Chambers to create a standard. This will help Ohio Chambers make more informed decisions so they can steer their Chamber growth in the right direction. 

There are a few reasons that make it difficult to collect this data: 

  • Very little data is published  
  • Data that is published is often biased and skewed in favor of the most successful Chambers 
  • The imagined factor of "my Chamber is different" leads Chambers to believe that data is irrelevant to them 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) does publish Chamber data, however, the process for joining this pool is difficult and because of this, the data is biased towards the most successful Chambers. Still, the ACCE is an excellent organization and SOCA recommends using the data they provide.  

The best way to combat this threat is by working with SOCA and adding your name to our list of Chambers that contribute data to our pool. 

Watch the full video to learn more about how you can contribute to SOCA's data pool and how doing so can give you a competitive advantage! 

Leadership Turnover in Chambers of Commerce 

Leadership turnover is a localized challenge, however that does not make it any less of a serious threat. Today, many Chambers are discovering an increased rate of leadership turnover.  

When turnover happens, it is always either planned or unplanned. Planned turnover is a good thing, it shows that your Chamber is growing and well-organized. Conversely, unplanned turnover is not a good thing. It is a sign of disorganization and shows that your board did not hire the right person for the job. 

Chambers who regularly experience unplanned turnover will find an erosion in brand credibility, a loss of revenue, and a loss of motivation. 

You can combat unplanned turnover by restructuring or reorganizing your Chamber or by hiring an outside consultant to advise you are the best changes. 

Watch the full video to learn more about the reasons for unplanned turnover and how you can address them! 

Complacency in Chambers of Commerce 

By complacency, we do not mean laziness. Complacency is self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. It often comes from ignorance and goes hand-in-hand with challenge number two, the lack of industry-standard metrics.  

Chamber leaders often simply do not know what they should be doing to compete with or get ahead of the rest of the pack. Sometimes when challenged on this, Chamber leaders respond with the idea that their Chamber is unique and cannot be treated like other Chambers.  

That is true only to an extent. Every Chamber can and should be benchmarked and measured on the following: 

  • Member retention rate 
  • Market penetration rate 
  • Member recruitment per year 
  • Due vs non-due percentage or revenue 
  • Cost per member 
  • Months of cash 

To combat complacency, leadership must learn to see issues from multiple perspectives. Otherwise, they will be unprepared for upcoming challenges, and they will see the erosion of their brand. 

Watch the full video to learn about some signs of complacency in your Chamber. 

Your Chamber Goes Further with Help from SOCA 

There are four key challenges facing Chamber of Commerce today. While these challenges pose a serious threat, they can and will be overcome and we all work together to address the underlying issues that cause these challenges.  

One of the best ways to face these challenges head-on and overcome them is by collaborating with SOCA to invest in deep data pools and overcome the many misconceptions that guide Chamber leaders down the wrong paths. 

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