Restaurant marketing was hard enough even before COVID! Serving good food is often not enough to be successful in the restaurant industry. Restauranteurs struggle with everything from staffing to marketing, staying top of mind to staying on top of orders.

The demands are endless but the Alameda Chamber of Commerce can help. Here’s how to leverage a chamber membership to grow your restaurant’s visibility and profitability.

Half of all adults in the US have worked in a restaurant in some capacity during their working lives and 46% of restaurant employees want to open their own restaurant some day. Whether you’ve already made that dream happen or are working on it, a chamber membership can be a valuable investment in your success.

Photo Credit: Maurice Ramirez

25 Ways the Chamber Can Help Your Restaurant

Here’s what the chamber can do for your restaurant marketing:

  1. Location. We often know about available space before the for sale or lease signs go up. We are plugged into the business community and have economic development connections. The Alameda Chamber staff also has the low-down on businesses scouting the area that could be valuable neighbors.
  2. Employees. We are also in the know when it comes to people looking for jobs in the community. We have a free job board to help you get your hiring message out.
  3. Advocacy. Restaurant owners came to understand the importance of their voice being heard during the COVID outbreak. We advocated for our community’s restaurants to ensure they were able to operate as openly as possible. The Chamber also worked with the City of Alameda to help with additional access to parking lots and streets for more outdoor dining. It’s hard for a single restaurant’s voice to be heard on the municipal level but we represent many people in the restaurant industry through our Alameda Restaurant & Bar Coalition. With that group, we amplified the message and helped them be heard by decision makers.
  4. Funding. While there are many small business avenues for funding, the application process can be daunting. The Chamber is well-versed in the options available and may be able to direct you to some you hadn’t even thought of. This was especially true with the funds and grants available due to COVID.
  5. Permitting connections. Cities require permitting for restaurant operations. Sometimes the permitting process can be slower than the restauranteur would prefer. We can help make the necessary introductions and call on behalf of your business to help facilitate the process.
  6. Social media teasers. Even if your restaurant isn’t open yet, we can “tease” our audience about the delicious new dining that’s coming. You can get a sizable amount of interaction and shares on social media. It will not only bring attention to your restaurant but may also help build your follower count. If you’re already open, the Chamber can share your specials on social media.
  7. Shop local programs. Our Visit & Shop Alameda encourages people to buy from our participating merchants with an easy to use gift card. We are also involved in getting the word out about the Taste of Alameda. You can get additional free restaurant marketing by participating in these programs.
  8. Referrals. We are often asked for referrals. When visitors are planning a trip, they contact us and ask where to eat and what to do. If we are familiar with your restaurant, we may be able to recommend you to visitors.
  9. Brochures and coupons. You are welcome to ask us about placing your marketing collateral in the chamber lobby.
  10. Ribbon cuttings. If you’re opening a restaurant, hosting a re-opening, or marking an anniversary or large launch (like being under new management), ask us about hosting a ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. We will work with you to invite the community. You can provide dining specials or other offers to bring people in on that special day.
  11. Member-to-member discounts. If you’d like to offer a discount to our members, we’d be happy to help spread the word and encourage people to support your business.
  12. Run an event. Now that we’re opening up again, we invite members to host networking events at their place of business. You can bring in a crowd by doing this. We can also talk to you about other community events that may fit your restaurant such as being a part of the Taste of Alameda event, a farm to table event, or a restaurant week.
  13. Cater an event. We always appreciate food sponsors giving the restaurants billing and advertising in return. If you have a catering arm, you could land a few catering gigs by feeding this business-minded group.
  14. Host a cooking (or tasting) class. Another way to showcase your food and staff skills is by hosting a cooking class with the Chamber. Our Chamber Academy webinars offer our members an educational component and we allow members to host.
  15. Research. Every Chamber member eats. True fact. As a member, you can poll people you meet to figure out their interest in new offerings, locations, and more.
  16. Business know-how. If you are a restauranteur whose skills lie in areas outside of business (like making amazing food), you may be able to learn about business concepts for free with the Chamber Academy. At least once a month, we host sessions on things like social media, marketing, and branding. If you don’t have time to attend, know that as a chamber member, all of your employees are also members. Encourage your staff to attend instead.
  17. Access to newsletter space. We send out a weekly newsletter. Often we write an article highlighting new businesses. You can also advertise with us or share events or happenings.
  18. Spotlights. We offer spotlights for new members. They are featured in our newsletter and on our website. You are welcome to showcase your food and tell your story. Connect with our audience by including more than just your operating hours and the kind of food you sell. You want to entice people to dine with you so make it memorable.
  19. Community membership. Many people view chamber members as being upstanding members of the community. They feel more at ease knowing a business is a chamber member. Displaying your chamber member logo in your window can invite people to dine with you.
  20. Email blasts. We send out periodic email blasts from members. This can help you reach a new audience. Consider a very targeted message like asking us to send it right before lunch with an “Are you hungry for…?” message with a mouth-watering image of your food.
  21. Elevator pitches. The Chamber can help you perfect your elevator pitch. While you may think that because everyone eats, the entire town is a candidate to dine with you, that is probably not true. There is a select clientele that you serve best. Figure out exactly who that is and what you do incredibly well and then use that to communicate every time you meet someone new at the Chamber. Telling people you own the new restaurant on Main Street won’t bring in customers. Telling them you own the “new Thai-Mex place with a hot sauce you can’t forget” will entice the right kind of people (those who love a culinary adventure and hot sauce) to see if your claims are true.
  22. Branding and content. Branding is important to a restaurant. It’s how people remember you. The Chamber can help you find an affordable designer or put you in contact with someone who can help you design your menu for amazing results.
  23. Access to the Chamber Guide. We have a member directory but this fall we are also launching the Alameda City Guide, which targets locals and visitors alike. There are many unique opportunities available for members. Ask us about them.
  24. Mentors. Yes, the restaurant industry is competitive but sometimes you just need the insights of someone who has been there before and gone through the challenges you’re going through. You want to know what they did or what they wish they hadn’t. The Chamber can help introduce you to someone willing to help you.
  25. Communicating the importance of reviews. We understand the importance of reviews and often remind the community how small businesses need them. You can share our social media posts on the subject to your audience. Or you can create your own and tag the chamber. We will usually share your content for even greater reach.

Running and marketing a restaurant is challenging but with the right connections through the Chamber you can reach a larger part of the Alameda community. Chamber membership can be a wonderful investment in your business with a great return.

Are you in the restaurant business? Join our

Alameda Restaurant & Bar Coalition

With COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders, restaurants and bars faced unique issues and challenges including capacity limits. Nationally, they estimate that as many as 25% of all restaurants will never reopen.

The purpose of the group is to discuss the issues and challenges, exchange best practices, and focus on solutions in order to help the restaurant and bar industry thrive. All opinions are welcome.

Contact us today for more information.

Author: Diksha