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Kick off a new business with a super grand opening
There’s no shortage of items to check off your “to-do” list when you’re in the throes of opening a new business. Particularly for brick-and-mortar establishments, part of this process also includes launching a grand opening event. While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for making your grand opening a success, there are some best practices — steps you can take to ensure you plan an event that will make an impact and provide you with a good turnout, and most important, awareness that you’re ready to do business.

Go into planning your grand opening with the right mindset

You’ve probably had an opportunity to see or even participate in the grand opening of a business in your area. For every business opening, there are hundreds of ideas that can serve as good ideas for a grand opening. To narrow down your options and identify which idea may be the best choice for your business, get your thinking to line up with your needs.

1. Think of y our grand opening as a themed party

A grand opening is a quick way to cement your brand in the minds of your target audience. Use the event as an opportunity to build your image by choosing a theme that complements your brand.  

2. Iron out your budget

Grand openings cost money. Once you decide on a theme, create an exhaustive checklist of the resources needed to launch your grand opening as you envision it. If what you envision goes over budget (and it may), cut back. A grand opening doesn’t have to be a spectacle. It only has to be effective at grabbing the attention of your target audience. In the article “ Grand Opening Ideas, Goals, Budgets, and More”, a budget equal to 20 percent of the first year’s marketing spend is suggested. A popular rule of thumb is 5-8 percent of expected sales for the first two months.  

3. Give yourself plenty of time

Start planning the grand opening months before your business is actually scheduled to open. This way, you have time to get everything you need in order to make the event a success.

4. Pick the right time

Check the calendar. If you can, align your grand opening with a holiday, community celebration or national event that complements your business. If you are opening a quick oil change service center, Easter weekend may not be the best choice for a grand opening. But if you wait a few weeks, your launch can coincide with the start of the summer travel season. Timing.

5. Plan to take advantage of free publicity and paid advertising

Every business owner loves free publicity, but don’t rely on free publicity to spread the word about your business. Pay for targeted advertising and, if need be, find a marketing pro who can help you craft a marketing plan that leverages your financial resources in the best way possible.

6. Delegate responsibilities and assign roles well ahead of time

Your staff is as much responsible for a successful grand opening as you are. Create a dialog with about the grand opening and seriously consider any ideas they offer. Implement the good ones. More often than not, it is the members of your staff who will have the most direct contact with would-be customers. Customers are far more likely to direct questions about products and services to staff members than they are to you. Staff members should not be selling during the grand opening event. They should be on hand to answer customer questions and help facilitate some of the day’s activities, but for just this one day, leave your customers to their own devices and let them approach you when they’re ready to buy. A successfully executed grand opening does one thing very well — it establishes your brand and your business in the minds of members of your target audience. When you think of a target audience, you may think of would-be clientele. But your target audience also includes future suppliers, community partners, business partners, public officials and the local media. These are the people and organizations you are zeroing in on with your launch, with the intention of building valuable new relationships, whether with new customers or the new city mayor. The aim of your grand opening event is to make that all-important positive first impression.

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