The ShopChamber initiative was unveiled this past year as a way to encourage member-to-member commerce, referral and support for Arlington businesses. I am not going to rehash the specifics of theinitiative; however, I would like to share my experience in implementing the ShopChamber philosophy at my company, Segue Technologies, Inc. When we joined the Chamber in 2008, we really wanted to go all-in and do our best to become actively involved. For me, one of the easiest ways to do this was to use other Chamber Members for products and services that we were already acquiring. We still did our due diligence with vendor selection; however, we would almost always look for Chamber member referrals first before using other sources.
This has proven to not only be a good strategy for finding amazing local vendors and partners, but also in growing our network relationships in the community. And the best part? In most cases, it’s actually easier to “ShopChamber” and have a good result than it is to find qualified vendors with unverified online referrals and web searches. The reason I say this is because Arlington Chamber members are not shy about sharing their exceptional experiences in working with other members, all you have to do is ask. So I did. And I do. All the Time.
ShopChamber in Action
Several years back, we needed some assistance with web copy strategy so we asked a few members if they had any recommendations. They quickly pointed me to Greta Menard of Capital MarCom. I am so glad they did. When we were much smaller, we didn’t have the resources to have a full time staff manage our web copy, content strategy, and communications channels. Capital MarCom helped us implement a marketing and communications strategy that directly led to improved revenue growth without having to hire a full time team to support it. This allowed us to accomplish our goals quickly while keeping our overhead low.
Another example of how Shop Chamber benefited Segue significantly was with our recent office re-location. Our lease was coming to an end and we wanted to ensure that we would get a great deal with our new space. After hearing rave reviews from other Chamber members, I decided to work withDavid DeCamp of NGKF to help us find a new space, negotiate lease terms, and ensure a smooth transition from our current space. Not only were the negotiations a breeze, but we were able to lower our rent substantially while finding a space that better fit our requirements.
During this process, we also hired fellow Chamber member Michael Foster’s team at MTFA Architectureto design our new space. His team not only provided us with a design that our clients and employees love, but was also able to re-imagine many existing features of the space in ways that ultimately saved us money. From there, we hired Washington Workplace (who we had worked with previously) to design, customize, and procure additional office furniture that matched our existing items perfectly. This minimized the amount of furniture we had to purchase, which provided additional savings. Finally, when it came time to plan the upgrade, move, and installation of our office communications equipment, I went directly toMcEnroe Voice & Data. The solution they implemented allowed us to keep a majority of our existing equipment while still providing us with the ability to scale our systems extensively in the future. As you can see, almost every aspect of our move was orchestrated with the help of fellow Chamber members and we couldn’t be happier with the result.
I would like to mention some other examples where we successfully acquired exceptional services from other Chamber members: Bean Kinney & Korman for Software Intellectual Property legal advice,Leadership Arlington for corporate training and leadership development, John Marshall Bank for business banking and financing, Top Golf for corporate events, the Sheraton Pentagon City for meeting facilities,Main Event Catering for private events and parties, and Willow for our annual Holiday Party. I even adopted my dog from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington!
Primary Benefits of ShopChamber
I could go on and on about all of the great Chamber members I have patronized (by my last count I have used over 50 Chamber members over the last several years) but I think you get the point. So what is the take-away from this? I wanted to highlight two reasons that I feel you should consider shopping locally with fellow Arlington Chamber members:
- Chamber members, especially those recommended by other members, are less likely to dial it in and deliver subpar services– I didn’t conduct scientific research on this one but I can speak from experience that I have personally witnessed fellow Chamber Members going above and beyond what I would consider customary to ensure that I had a positive experience. I call this the “Don’t let another Chamber Member down” factor. One example of this was with Weiler’s Lawn & Landscape. They installed some drainage relief in my backyard to alleviate some heavy sogginess. After a wicked storm, one of my down spouts became dislodged from my house. They could have easily made the argument that it was unrelated to the job they were working on, but instead chose to replace it free of charge. This move impressed me and they have gained a happy customer that will refer them often, for life.
- It increases the exposure of your organization as “Chamber-friendly” or “Chamber-focused” – As I have already mentioned, fellow Chamber members like to support each other. In a lot of ways I think providing great referrals that result in a positive outcome is infectious. I know I personally get a lot of satisfaction when connecting people in need of a product or service with those providers that I know can deliver. When other organizations witness the intentional nature of “Shopping Chamber” they are likely to do the same, which can and will ultimately help your organization thrive.
So the next time you need products or services for your business, or even for your household, check out the Chamber’s Business Directory to see if there are organizations that provide what you are looking for. Better yet, reach out to fellow Chamber members or staff to ask for recommendations. You will be glad that you did.
About the Author
As part of Segue’s ownership team, Ron Novak leads the Commercial and Non-Profit customer verticals. Ron is currently focused on leading development of Mobile Technologies to help businesses reach their customers in exciting new ways and supporting Non-Profits in better serving their members.