So you just opened up a franchise or a small business? Congratulations! Now it is time to start your grand opening event. A successful grand opening event can increase the bottom line for your first year. Planning a grand opening ceremony is very crucial to your company and it is very likely for an owner to hire the services of a corporate event planner, but sometimes they want to plan it themselves. In order to plan a successful event you should give yourself around a two month period for preparation time to plan your grand opening.
No matter who is planning your event, it can be very stressful especially the days leading up to your event. There is no time for unavoidable pitfalls, so for this reason I have created a how-to-article based upon my own knowledge and experience in order to make your business grand opening go as smooth as possible.
I find it is easier to follow these steps in order to have your planning go smoothly.
1) Location: Grand openings typically take place at the source, where your business is located. However, in some instances owners opt to throw a dinner or a lunch party rather than a traditional ceremony. In such a scenario, choosing a location for your event is necessary and must be done ahead of time. You will want to make sure the date is available and if your requirements can be met at this venue. Booking ahead of time will allow you a chance to negotiate with price, where as if you book at last minute your price may be higher. Plus, invitations need to be sent out early and your guests want to know exactly where your event is being held.
2) Date and Time: After finding your venue, choose a suitable date and time that will be easy for your target market to attend. In this part you need to really think about your target market, who are you trying to attract? What time of the day do they normally attend events? What do they do for a living? Are you trying to attract people who work a typical 9-5 job or someone who works part-time in the evenings? Whatever the case maybe, make sure to acknowledge this when setting aside the right time frame for your guests. As a general rule, it is recommended that you do not hold your grand opening on a holiday, as people tend to go away on vacation at this time.
3) Weather: If you are planning to have your event take place outside, pay close attention to the weather forecast and research the past years weather on that date. You want to make sure that it does not rain, however, if the chance of rain is the case, plan a back-up plan where you can use a room in doors at your venue, or rent a tent to protect your guests from the rain.
4) Ribbon Cutting- Traditionally at a grand opening event, speeches are made by prominent figures in the company followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. If you are a new business, you will have the city’s mayor present with you for the ribbon cutting ceremony. This part of your event should not run longer than 30 minutes. 15 Minutes is typically ideal. Owners should limit the number of speakers at the grand opening, as sometimes too many speakers or to long of speeches tend to bore people. Hiring an MC to introduce the event and speakers is a good idea, and this MC is a professional so they know how to work a crowd so your guests will be entertained. If possible, a highly accomplished guest speaker (not associated to your company) is someone who you can get to speak at your event; this person will help build credibility in your potential customer’s eyes. You could even have this person host your event and be the MC.
5) Door Prizes and Samples- these are great add-ons you can give to your guests, as they will feel more appreciated and want to attend your event more. People like receiving free samples and they love winning prizes. Speak to other owners and businesses who can offer coupons, or packages to be given away at your event. Make sure to think about your target market when you are thinking about the prizes you want to make sure that these are the type of products or services your target market will utilize.
6) Equipment Rentals- Make sure to take in to consideration all the equipment you will need to rent (i.e.: Projectors, Sound System, Carpets, Tables, Chairs…etc) You want to make sure that everything is rented a few weeks before your event and make sure you coordinate an appropriate time and date for pick-up and drop-off.
7) Food- Are you serving food? If you are a restaurant considering serving free food to introduce your menu to the public. People love free food. If you are a company that is not in the food industry serve some food at your event, light snacks are a great hit. If you are going to have your food catered in, please make sure you take into consideration dietary needs, try to serve some lactose-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free items on the menu. Also, check with your caterer to see if they can supply you with utensils, if need be. Remember to have a food tasting before your event; you want to make sure that the food you are going to serve tastes good.
8) Drink- Are you serving alcohol? Soft Drinks? Water? Coffee and Tea? Whatever the case may be you need to make sure that you take into consideration what you serve. If alcohol is what you want to serve make sure you hire a smart-served bartender and cocktail waitress at your event, you want to make sure that they are certified to serve alcohol. You also want to take into consideration the amount of drinks you will need per guest and if they will be free or charged. Be sure to check with your venue on permits for serving alcohol.
9) Bathrooms- If you are serving alcohol, you will need to allow your guests access to a washroom so make sure your venue has this. If you are planning something outside, renting bathrooms will be a necessity.
10) Parking- Make sure that your venue has access to parking. Your guests may leave if they cannot find parking for your event. If you can afford it, having valet parking is a great way to avoid the frustrations of finding a parking spot.
11) Attendees- After planning everything and taking a close and detailed look at your target market you can start to create a list of the people you plan to invite. People you will want to include are: potential customers, the press, neighbouring businesses, your city mayor, other government officials, vendors, employees and guests, friends, family, former colleagues, people who helped you get your new business for example.
12) Creating Invitations- Creating, printing, and mailing invitations can be quite pricey. If you want to lower your costs send out an e-invite via your company email. Before you send out any invitations make sure that the information you have on file is correct. Remember to keep track of all the RSVP’s you receive for your event, it is better to put one person in charge of this and create a separate e-mail for RSVP’s to be sent to. As a general rule, expect about 50% of your invites to show up. The actual number will be close to 30%, but you should always plan for more. Make sure to send invitations to all local news directors, editors, and journalists. Inviting the press is a great way to have your business written about, and it doesn’t cost anything. Included with your invitation to the media create a personalized signed letter that states what your company is, the services or products you offer, and who you are. You want to make sure they have enough information if they chose to write a piece about your company later. Make sure to personally sign each letter, this is very important and it lets the person who is reading this know that it is a formal invitation and it is not spam. Make sure to do research on each attendee and create a different letter for each person, include their name and something about them that you have learned to make it more personal.
There are some tips for you on planning your grand opening event, as you can see there is a lot of work that needs to get done in order to have your event be a successful one. If you have any other questions or require any help or assistance please give us a call for a free consultation.
Until Next Time!
Events by Natasha