The Chick-fil-A cow mascot looks on as personnel hand out 500 sandwiches to King's College students Monday in Monarch Court. (Photo credit: Aimee Dilger | Times Leader)
Whether you run a retail shop, a restaurant, or a chain of tanning salons, planning for a new store opening will keep you up at night. Now that the dust has settled and the hard work of navigating city regulations, managing contractors, and hiring your team is done, you are all set for your grand opening...right? If you have that anxious feeling in your stomach right now, know that you aren’t alone. It’s common to feel unprepared and terrified about how to officially open and market a new store. You really only get one shot to do it right. Chances are that you might be cutting the ribbon while the final screws are being tightened and the paint is still drying.
So, how do you open a new location near or on a campus in a way that creates buzz and drives foot traffic?
The first step is making sure you have all of your bases covered. Here is a mini-checklist of items that are often overlooked:
- Are you fully stocked on all inventory you sell? What about supplies to run your store? You can’t run out of items.
- Do you have enough staff fully trained and scheduled for a higher volume of people the day of your opening? New customers expect that you will have staffed up for the day.
- Have you done a soft opening a week or two earlier so that your staff knows the routine and flow of business? Don’t practice on a store full of new customers.
- Have you tested all of the equipment your store operates to ensure that it’s fully functioning? Can it handle a crowd?
- Have you picked the right date and time for your store opening? Avoid major holidays or holiday weekends or dates when other major events are happening.
- What is the style of your grand opening event? Have a clear idea of how you want your event to look and feel. Is it elegant and fancy? Is it fun and casual? What do you picture happening?
- Do you have a budget planned for your grand opening? Is it realistic? Remember, you only get one of these, so now is not the time to cut corners. Decide how much you are willing to spend, and then add 15% for unexpected costs.
- Do you have a trusted event planner to organize and keep things on track during your event? You are the owner, so you should be front and center as the face of your business interacting with customers - not putting out fires.
- Do you have the necessary permits? Depending on the size and scope of your event, you may need to secure permits from the city or permission from your building owner.
- What about logistics? Do you have enough parking? What is the capacity of your store? Do you have enough seating? Who will be checking to ensure the safety of your customers? How will people wait to get in if there is a line?
- Do you have quality giveaways? Each customer should walk out of your store with a small promotional item for visiting. Print up promotional items with your store info that can be given away to stay top-of-mind.
- Have you invited the right people? Along with family and friends, extend invites to your local chamber of commerce, departments on campus, local press (including school newspaper), radio stations, local news outlets, local police and fire, and even the mayor!
- Did you hire a photographer/videographer? This is a day to remember, so be sure to document it. Photos and videos (like this) can be reused in your retsail advertising and social media over the next year to extend the excitement.
- Do you have a marketing budget and plan in place? When the party's over, store traffic can drop like a rock. Be sure to keep the momentum going with targeted local and campus promotions to keep customers coming back.
Looking for some fun and different marketing ideas to reach students on campus and promote your brand? Click below to download some campus marketing tactics to use during your store opening and ongoing throughout the school year.