Some days it might seem that walk-ins – or foot traffic – are keeping you from getting your work done, but if you don’t receive a lot of visitors your chamber is missing out. Here are 40 ways to increase foot traffic to your chamber office.
Foot traffic, visitors and walk-ins serve as an additional source of referrals for members. Chambers with increased foot traffic will be seen as providing a resource for the community (otherwise, out of sight, out of mind), and will have more options for non-dues revenue as they can do things like
Higher foot traffic could also lead to more members and more loyal members as people still build in-person relationships.
However, not all chambers want to increase foot traffic. If you run a small operation, you may not be able to work with the constant distraction of people just stopping by. So before you put a plan in place to improve foot traffic consider whether it’s something you really want. Even if there are some benefits, the costs of not being able to get things done may outweigh the positives.
But let’s assume you’re ready and you want more foot traffic to your chamber office.
- Improve your signage. People won’t come in if they think you’re closed. Jackie Vetter-Boos of the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce ordered a 10 ft “open today” sign for her chamber so there was no mistaking that they encouraged visitors.
- Be open consistent hours. People will get frustrated if they stop by during business hours and you’re always closed. Sure, you can leave a note up about how you’re out working in the community but it won’t do anything to increase your foot traffic. If you can’t be there, consider staffing with volunteers so that the doors are open.
- Offer free coffee. This isn’t something in everyone’s budget but offering free coffee or something similar gives them a reason to stop in when they’re strolling around town. If it’s not in your budget, you could always get a sponsor.
- Sell products or souvenirs. You can sell products or souvenirs for your area. But if you don’t want to compete with members create rotating pop-up retail opportunities for your members, host an artisans’ co-op, or sell local artwork and books. You can either charge members for
the spaceor require them to work it/volunteer to man it for so many hours.
- Offer co-op space. If you create co-op space or rent out conference room areas, people will have to come by.
- Provide a home. If you have a member that doesn’t really have a business home, the chamber office can serve as one. This is slightly different than offering working space for short-term rentals. This is about becoming a meeting spot. For instance, if you have a ghost or culinary tour group in town, they may not have a brick and mortar business at which to meet. Their office may be a kiosk in a heavily trafficked area and they may just use a historical marker to meet up with their group. Offer the chamber instead.
- Be open during First Friday or special community events in your area. Obviously, if it’s a chamber event that’s harder to do but if your community event is near your office and people will be strolling around, have a person or two there to answer questions and welcome people in. The beauty of a First Friday or an art walk is that people are already in the mood to just walk in and out of storefronts. If you’re in the right area, and your chamber is well-lit (as in obviously open) they’ll likely stop by.
- Put out a welcome mat. Red is perfect to get attention. (This one is available on Amazon.com for $20)
- Decorate your outside area like you’re expecting guests. When a place looks inviting people are more interested in coming in.
- Host a Trick or Treat with other businesses in the area. Market it well as a safe alternative. Kids normally come with parents and that could be a great time to talk as the children play games.
- Focus on new arrivals. Melissa McGee Barth of the Spearfish Area Chamber said they provide services to people who are relocating. She said, “We have New Resident Welcome bags for those who have recently moved here… Our members are able to insert a ‘gift’ free of charge. By gift, I mean a coupon, trinket with their logo, etc. The City
referspeople as they hook up their water…so does the visitor center in town. We also advertise it in our membership directory, which is a full relocation magazine for the community.”
- Bring your brochure rack outside on nice days. When you see people looking through them go out and ask if they have any questions.
- Work with local lodging to offer “special day of deals” to fill up empty rooms that you can only receive by stopping in the chamber and asking for.
- Host ribbon cuttings at the chamber for businesses without a storefront like home-based businesses. Jackie Vetter-Boos said they did one for their window-washing company that’s a mobile business.
- Host an open house. One word, cookies.
- Concentrate on your window display. Make it something that others want to check out.
- “Paint” the sidewalk with chalk footprints or arrows leading to your door.
- Fly flags or put flags in your front space.
- Decorate the parking stops in front of your chamber.
- If you own the building, consider adding a mural to it. Fresno, California has a mural district in their downtown.
- Add a colorful awning over your windows or door.
- If you have a solid door, hang a wreath.
- Ask people to visit. We are naturally curious people. When we see a crowd forming or see a lot of people going in and out of a building, we want to figure out why they’re going and we want to be a part of it.
- Add a photo op out front. At the beach, many people add colorful signs or oversized beach chairs to encourage people to stop and take photos. Create one in front of the chamber and then strike up conversations. See if they’ll tag you on social media. Share them if they do.
- Add a social media wall to your window (electronic screen showing the most recent social media postings) or project your upcoming events on a screen for passersby to see.
- Add a decorative planter outside of your door or window.
- Host an event that doesn’t directly have anything to do with you. Choose an event that draws a crowd and is helpful to the community such as a dog and cat adoption or children’s art show. People will come to see it. Invite them back.
- Wrap your car and park it out front. A colorful wrap often draws attention.
- Post historic pictures in the window and show how much the town has changed over the years.
- Wrap your front door like a present or a treasure chest for special occasions. People will find it festive and intriguing.
- Offer quick tip demos one day a month. People can stroll in and learn something quick that will help their business. Host it on the same day each month and market it around town. Encourage people to stop in to learn a basic skill quickly or have their questions answered. Give a member the spotlight by allowing them to run the demonstration. Possible topics include “How to run your first Facebook ad” or “How to excel at Instagram with this one easy activity.”
- Allow a local business with an out-of-the-way location/off-the-beaten-path spot to use your storefront for a tasting.
- Hang a funny sign. Show you have a sense of humor.
- Use a sandwich billboard or sign flipper to get attention in front of the chamber.
- Go live on Facebook and offer to do something zany if you get X amount of visitors. This could include shaving a long beard, cutting your hair, getting a pie in the face, or a number of other very visual activities. Broadcast the challenge and then invite people to show up to watch live.
- Use portable signs (like what real estate agents do) around town inviting people to come to visit.
- Host a visitors contest. Publicize that the “50th” visitor of the day receives a special prize.
- Host a challenge. There’s a local restaurant in my town that has a really spicy chili. If you can finish it within the allotted time, it’s free (and you get a t-shirt). Think of a challenge you can host at your chamber. Enlist the help of a few members.
- Use balloons or streamers. Nothing says “party” more than festive balloons and streamers. If visitors ask what you’re celebrating tell them the growth of their business, which just began when they walked in the door.
- Add a QR code to your door. No one can be all places at all times. If your chamber is closed, don’t have a closed sign be the only thing that greets that person. Add a QR code that they can scan that takes them to your website, gives them a video greeting, or invites them back at another time.
The inspiration for this blog post was based on a question that came up in the Chamber Professionals Group on Facebook. If you have an idea on increasing foot traffic that wasn’t mentioned here or if you have done it at your own chamber and want to share how you did it, please post it to the group.