Do you own a business in the Dallas Fort Worth area that is having a Grand Opening? There is a lot of planning requirements you should consider before the actual event. I could write an entire book about Grand Openings because there is a lot to consider. I have provided entertainment for dozens of DFW Grand Opening events, and most of them completely flop. Most Grand Openings are planned by the business owner, who has zero, or very little experience with events. Usually they pick a date, put a few flyers in the window, maybe an ad in the local newspaper, they hire a few party vendors for different services, and that’s it. Result: A total flop!
Want to launch your Metroplex business the right way? Let’s get started:
Have a GOAL! What is the purpose of the grand opening? Before you say something like “To build my business” think about this questions. What I mean is specifically what are you looking for? A good answer might be: “To collect 500 emails from local potential customers, and the permission to send them updates.” In terms of goals, you should be very specific. Each goal you have will require some thought and pre-planning. For example if you want to build your customer base, you might want to do something to collect potential customers phone numbers, email, address etc.
Here are some general recommendations for your Grand Opening:
- Have a definite starting and ending time. Don’t make it an all-day event. I recommend a maximum of 4 hours (2 or 3 would even be better). You don’t want people to just trickle in, you want to develop a crowd in front of your business.
- Make sure your Grand Opening spills out into the parking lot. The more people you get in front, (Not Inside) your business the better. Nothing draw a crowd better than a crowd. If you were driving by, and saw 200 people standing out front of a business, you would have a tendency to stop and see what the heck was going on!
- Have a drawing every 15 minutes. Give something away of value. Get people to register for the drawings and give you their email, phone, address etc. On the register form, say that you are going to send them updates about your products and services. (This gives you an opt-in email list.)
- Make sure you have business accounts setup in Twitter, You-Tube, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Periscope. Have an employee in charge of Social Media Reporting. They should be constantly posting Tweets, Facebook posts, Periscope videos etcetera, as the grand opening progresses. Make this look like a big party so people will want to come out and join in.
- Line up some speakers, such as local celebrities if possible. Have a schedule of events. Try to get the Mayor to show up, or the Local sheriff. Anyone who depends on people’s votes will often volunteer to speak for personal gain. Doing this will often bring in the press. Make sure you notify the press about your event, especially if you have a lineup of local politicians.
- Have something for the kids. It doesn’t matter what service or product you provide, plan on entertaining kids. Face painting, balloon twisting, games etc.
- Have free food, not just cookies, or candy. I recommend having your grand opening during the lunch hour, and serve hamburgers, hot dogs chips, drinks etc. Put up banners that reads “FREE HAMBURGERS!” You need to be able to see this from the street. If you can’t see the sign from the street, then hire someone to stand at the street and hold up a sign. “FREE FOOD” Get people to exchange their business card for a hamburger.
- Take a ton of pictures and post them on Facebook! Make this someone’s job. You want to have photos of everyone, if possible. Have something to make people smile, for example some funny props, or backdrops etc. Have a photo backdrop print your business logo, and/or brands you sell or service. When you take photos of people, try to get them to stand in front of your backdrop.
- Have lots of printed brochures, coupons, business publications to give away. Give away specialty advertising items, such as mugs, pens, t-shirts, caps, calendars etc. Contact your product suppliers or vendors (Who you buy your products and or services from) and tell them about your grand opening plans. Many times they will have special props, and material that you can use to promote your grand opening. They might even want to send their rep to help you with your efforts. (Usually for free)
- Tents, tents and more tents. Try to have tents setup in the parking lot. (Not camping tents) They are big, they give you a wall to put banners on, they allow people to get out of the hot sun, or rain.
- Allow your Grand Opening to benefit other organizations. Such as ASPCA You will be the winner! They can bring out dogs and cats for adoption. Nothing draws in people more than cute kittens and puppies. They would love to use your event for their adoption program, plus this gives you another reason to contact the media and let them know. Also you can contact the Police and Fire Department, and probably get them to show up for community publicity. Having a big red fire truck, or a police helicopter landing at your grand opening will cause a big crowd to develop fast!
Don’t forget the cleanup! After the event, expect the area to be a mess and plan to have people (volunteers to clean the area). Make sure you notify your landlord before doing a grand opening. They might have some restrictions or ideas to consider.
After the Grand Opening, the most important part!
Now that you have completed your grand opening, the real work begins. Collect all of your business cards, or email address and create a list. I recommend using an email distribution service, such as Convert Kit this will allow you to track results and keep your list safe and secure. Try to find everyone on your list by going to Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Ask to be a “friend” so you can follow them. Plan on spending a lot of effort on this project. Want you want to accomplish is to create relationships with your potential customers. Having your customers online will allow you to contact them (Usually for free) and let them know when you have specials. You can build a big customer base online, and save a ton in advertising.
I hope this information helps you plan your grand opening, good luck and success!
This article was written by John Fite, owner of Checkers Entertainment
John has over 30 years of experience in the party and event business. Located in the Dallas Fort Worth area.