After months, maybe even years of hard work, you’ve finally opened the doors to your brand new business. The stress of the development process is replaced by the stress of being a new business owner, and you’re looking for the perfect way to introduce your concept to a new community.
A grand opening celebration is a wonderful way to not only invite residents in to check out your offerings, but also to thank those who have already bought in to your vision, supported you and helped you realize this dream.
Planning an event may seem like an added hassle, but by creating and sticking to a plan as well as getting the community involved, a grand opening can be the perfect way to kick off your businesses path to success. Here are a few key tips to make your grand opening the most successful one yet.
Over the summer, rapidly growing fitness franchise WORKOUT ANYTIME opened their 100th club thanks to industry veteran and WORKOUT ANYTIME and Zoë’s Kitchen franchisee Trey Hornsby. When planning a grand opening event, he says, communication is key.
“You’re managing a lot of moving parts, so it’s important to communicate regularly and make sure everyone is on the same page,” he shares.
Make sure you know everyone who is involved and communicate regularly any updates or changes to your event.
Hornsby echoes the emphasis on communicating when formulating a grand opening plan. He suggests business owners rarely leave themselves enough time to plan things out, adding, “Have an advertising and promotion plan in place as well that you can roll out as soon as details and the date are confirmed.”
Make it about fun, not business
“When we are new to a community or neighborhood, we want to make a great first impression. Grand opening events allow us to introduce ourselves to more locals than we might otherwise get to meet and show them what MOOYAH is all about,” MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes vice president of marketing Natalie Anderson Liu said.
The “Seriously Fun” brand invites residents in to enjoy key branding elements like their colorful aesthetic and kids’ area.
Get the community leaders involved
Opening a business in a new community requires the support of that community, which extends much farther than the local newspaper or other area business owners. Inviting local community leaders, whether that be the Chamber of Commerce to host a ribbon cutting, elected officials or public figures, and doing some outreach to important tastemakers can go a long way in the eyes of residents that you’ll need to support your business.
Go big or go home
For MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, opening its 100th location was a nationwide celebration. To mark the occasion, the corporate team decided to extend the revelry past Tuscaloosa, Alabama where the landmark restaurant opened doors. All MOOYAH locations in the U.S. hosted events, giving the first 100 Guests in line at each location free fries for a year. They gave out t-shirts, did giveaways through their mobile app for 100 days and even incentivized franchisees who signed on in the 100 days following the big opening.
Don’t be afraid to wait
“Don’t rush the Grand Opening,” shares Hornsby. “I thought, we’ve been open six weeks. What kind of grand opening is that? But it gave us time to get things up and running, get the community involved and make sure the logistics worked for everyone.”
Get other businesses involved
For Hornsby’s WORKOUT ANYTIME grand opening, he was opening a new concept in a new community, so it was important to get other established area businesses involved in the celebration. They reached out to businesses in town that complemented his fitness facility, like a local chiropractor and a protein shake company, to offer samples and promote their businesses in conjunction with his opening. Not only did they make important connections with other local businesses and entrepreneurs, but they were able to offer guests a more experiential event.
Invite the media
You’re investing money in advertising and promotion, and you’ve certainly invested money in your business—but not every invitee will be able to make your event. That’s why it’s important to invite the media. Your local newspaper, radio stations and TV reporters are tasked everyday with letting the community know what’s going on, and inviting them out to your own celebration allows them to let the area know that there’s a new business and business owner in town.
Make your vision match your mission
Be strategic in your event planning. Think about your target client when choosing where and how to advertise your event, and what to offer at your grand opening. While Trey Hornsby hit it out of the park inviting relevant local businesses to be a part of the celebration, he made a miscalculation when offering food. He hosted a grill out offering hamburgers and hot dogs, but found that many celebrators had come to work out first and were hesitant to chow down on a cheeseburger post-weightlifting.
A grand opening event is your introduction to the community, but it’s also an opportunity to reward those who are already supporters of your business and brand. When MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes opened their 100th location, they didn’t just celebrate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where the unit opened, they gave back to Guests nationwide who helped them reach this milestone.
“We were overjoyed to be opening our 100th restaurant in Tuscaloosa, but we didn’t think it would be right to only reward the Guests in Tuscaloosa on such a milestone moment. It’s really our Guests at the other 99 locations that helped get us where we are today, so we wanted to thank them in a big way for growing the brand across the country and around the world,” said MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes vice president of marketing Natalie Anderson Liu.
The value added of a grand opening event may not be able to be quantified, but it can be felt in the community’s response to your business. It’s important to welcome and support residents that you want to ultimately welcome and support you and your business. With a little planning and a lot of communication, you can host a successful grand opening in 2017.