The food service industry can be a challenging place to succeed. As such, restaurants and other food service operations can take advantage of discounted services, resources and networking opportunities by becoming members of restaurant associations. Restaurant associations are coalitions of eating and drinking establishments at local, state and national levels. They advocate and protect restaurants by offering greater representation, superior buying power and affordable resources, helping new restaurants to establish profitability and helping veteran restaurants maintain their success. Restaurant associations encourage careers in the industry, offer affordable member benefits and provide resources to keep operations successful.
Restaurant associations are open to just about any food service establishment. All food service establishments are eligible to join both their local or state restaurant association as well as the National Restaurant Association for the price of one membership.
According to the National Restaurant Association, membership is available to the following types of operations:
- Suppliers, distributors, consultants, and any company supplying goods and/or services
- Educational facilities
- Students in restaurant or hospitality programs
- State hospitals, state prisons, military operations and any other non-profit food service facility
- International food service operations
The 2-for-1 membership deal is a great way for food service operations to get involved on both the local and national level, as well as gain benefits and networking opportunities from a variety of sources.
For local membership, membership fees can run as low as $25-$200 a year, depending on the membership benefits desired. For larger companies or for a national membership for restaurants with more than one location, the yearly dues can escalate into the thousands.
Members of restaurant associations are entitled to receive special benefits for their operation. These benefits vary from state to state but generally involve discounts on good and services, such as the following:
- Payroll processing. Local restaurant associations may work with payroll companies in order to offer their members lower rates for payroll services.
- Credit processing. Credit card processing fees can be detrimental to restaurants, so restaurant associations will often partner with credit card processing companies and offer low rates to members.
- Music services. Many restaurants need music playing in the background to help create the desired dining experience. Restaurant associations will often provide discounts on music-licensing services so you can get music CDs or XM radio capabilities in your restaurant for a lower price.
- Insurance. This includes discounts for owners or operators paying for common restaurant insurances, such as liability and workers' compensation insurance.
Restaurant associations provide numerous educational resources perfect for those just starting out in the industry, or those who are veterans and want to gain a fresh approach. Training resources often include access to industry training programs such as ServSafe® and Foodservice Management Professional® (FMP®) Programs. Some associations even offer scholarships for professional development to further food service careers.
As a restaurant association member, you can make contact with other restaurant managers and owners across the state and country for insight into different aspects of the industry, career growth and franchise opportunities, to name a few. With a membership to a restaurant association, you can gain access to online directories and businesses in your area. A membership also affords you free admission to the National Restaurant Show, which attracts 2,000 suppliers and over 70,000 attendees for networking, exhibition and educational opportunities.
Since restaurant information is listed on restaurant association-sponsored directories, you can gain popularity with a listing on your association's site describing your property and business. Your involvement in your local restaurant association can increase your online exposure to the public, adding a valuable marketing benefit.
Restaurant associations bring restauranteurs together, supporting an industry with almost 100,000 operations nationwide. The tools, information, programs, career opportunities, discounts and overall advocacy food service operators receive from restaurant associations provide a solid foundation for success and growth. Visit http://www.restaurant.org/aboutus/states/ to learn more about what associations are available near you, as well as how you can join.