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Selling a franchise is an exciting accomplishment for any franchisor. Yet what is even more exciting is actually seeing your hard work come to fruition when your franchisees open their doors for business. One of the best ways to celebrate this major milestone is by holding a grand opening event. A grand opening represents a chance for your locations to make their debut and introduce their brand to their local communities.
The grand opening usually takes place about six weeks after the franchise has its soft open, which happens when they open for business to the public. The six-week time frame gives franchisees a chance to perfect their operations, figure out customer flow, and otherwise get used to the course of business and effectively meeting customer needs before the grand opening event.
While every industry will have different specific strategies, there are some unifying underlying themes with regard to the grand opening. Grand opening efforts should ideally generate media coverage and public awareness for every new location. The overall goal for any grand opening program is to create an “event” in every community the franchise enters.
To accomplish this, your franchisees must leverage local community attendance and involvement, civic leadership awareness, pre-existing customers, media/blogger participation, and television, print and radio media coverage, as well as heavily engage in digital marketing tactics to promote the grand opening of your franchisee’s new location. Specific grand opening strategies include:
- Make it a party. Everyone loves a good party. Spending even $30 at your local “dollar store” on decorations and balloons can make your location festive in ways you never imagined. If you’re a fitness or sports franchise, hold an open class or make the day open to the public with music and light refreshments. If you’re a restaurant, offer appetizers or small samples of your entrees. If you’re a service-based business, offer shortened examples of your services. A massage franchise, for example, might offer five-minute mini-massages.
- Don’t make it just about you. Yes, it’s your grand opening, but as the saying goes, the more the merrier. Find businesses who are willing to cross-promote with you, and invite them to come and give away swag or coupons. In return for offering them exposure, franchisees should ask them to promote the grand opening on their social media and in their store. Be sure to provide them with graphics, fliers, and other marketing collateral. This is a great way to reach an even wider audience.
- Invite local leaders. Send invitations to local office holders, Chamber of Commerce officials, and leaders of community organizations and neighborhood groups. A robust guest list can boost attendance, give you immediate credibility, and increase your chances of getting media coverage for your event.
- Offer incentives. The only thing people like more than a party is a party where they can get free stuff. Franchisees should hold a raffle for swag, gift cards, or other small prizes donated by the businesses with whom they are cross-promoting.
- Give the press a story worth telling. On any given day, a news editor likely comes across at least a dozen requests to attend a small business’s grand opening. Franchisees should stand out by mentioning how they are benefiting the community, and to highlight any of the cross-promotional efforts mentioned above. Also, be sure to highlight any community and civic leaders who are scheduled to attend. This is a great opportunity to highlight community involvement or charitable giving efforts.
Most importantly, don’t let anyone leave empty-handed. The call to action should be to always get guests to return as customers. Franchisees that have a rewards program should get as many guests signed up as possible, and capture their emails and/or cell phone numbers. Franchisees should also provide all guests with coupons that must be redeemed within the near future, say two weeks or so. Consider programs that would allow grand opening attendees discounts or other incentives for the first full year you are open. This will bring people back into the location, and hopefully they will make the business a part of their routine.
For assistance creating a customized grand opening strategy that is right for your business, contact our expert franchise consultants today, or click here.