Whether you’re an aspiring, new, or experienced restaurateur, trade associations exist for one primary purpose—to help you succeed. More often than not, they are formed by industry members with the expertise to support, educate, and inform others within the same field. In fact, there are so many associations that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a food producer, a food equipment manufacturer, a franchisee, or a retailer, you’re sure to find one that’s right for you.
If you’re unfamiliar with everything that trade associations specialize in, here’s a quick list of common practices that can be a huge benefit to members:
Offer Training and Certification Programs
Running a business in the foodservice industry requires a number of safety and training courses for you and your employees. Being a member of an association typically gives you access to training and certification for ServSafe food and alcohol safety, as required in many states.
Discounts and Group Rates on Products and Services
The same way you get a price break when you purchase ingredients in bulk, being part of a trade association makes you part of a larger group with buying power. This buying power can save you the cost of membership through discounts on many of the services associated with your human resources, such as payroll, insurance costs, and healthcare.
Plenty of Useful Publications
It’s important to stay on top of the latest news within the industry, whether it’s health and safety concerns, legislation impacting your business, or trends that you should know about. Publications produced by most trade associations include magazines, newsletters, white papers, buyers guides, and research reports.
Speaking of legislative matters, when you’re part of a trade association, you’ve got people that are there to represent your best interests when it comes to governmental affairs. If there are legal or regulatory issues being addressed that could impact your industry and/or the way you do business, you can rest assured knowing that this team will work tirelessly on your behalf.
Networking, Leadership, and Recognition
The best part about being in a trade association might just be the opportunities to learn and grow from others in the industry. With regular trade shows to attend, there’s plenty of opportunity to network, and once you’ve got some good experience under your belt, you might even see the door open up to leadership roles within the industry, as well as other recognition.
Associations to Consider
National Restaurant Associations
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) supports over 500,000 restaurants, making it the largest foodservice trade association by membership in the world. Last year, the attendance for its annual trade show exceeded 42,000 restaurant professionals with over 2,000 exhibitors.
Regional Restaurant Associations
Regional foodservice associations, such as the NRA’s State Restaurant Associations, have a narrower focus and tend to have news and resources that are more relevant for your area.
Specialty Restaurant Associations
There are also restaurant associations that specialize in particular types of food establishments. These should be the best source of information for a given segment. Here are a few that cater to various verticals within the food industry:
- The International Frozen Yogurt Association*
- National Food Truck Association
- Specialty Coffee Association of America
- National Grocers Association
- American Association of Meat Processors
Whether you’re fresh in the industry or a well-seasoned pro, the benefits to being in a trade association certainly are worth the costs.
Content contributed by Susan Linton, President of the International Frozen Yogurt Association.
*The International Frozen Yogurt Association (IFYA) was created in 2013 to promote the quality and success of the rapidly evolving $2 billion frozen yogurt industry and to build an international frozen yogurt community. The IFYA represents frozen yogurt shops, suppliers, and consumers across the globe. The IFYA believes it can promote the quality and success of frozen yogurt shops by providing access to quality information and resources, by recognizing and promoting frozen yogurt quality, and through building a thriving frozen yogurt community.