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Preparing A Grand Opening

Make a spectacular debut on opening day.

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So you're planning a grand opening. Your walls are painted, your shelves are stocked, you've even bought a snazzy new outfit for the big event. One question: How will you get people to walk through your door? Here's how to plan a success:

1. Have a plan. "Read and study everything under the sun on grand openings," says marketing consultant Blaine Greenfield, president of Blaine Greenfield Associates in East Windsor, New Jersey. Also, create specific goals (along with a realistic budget) and build awareness of the event with fliers and outdoor banners.

2. Look sharp. This is key. Unless you have the right equipment and design know-how, leave your signage to an expert. "You won't project a professional image using laser-printed sheets," notes Rich Patterson, vice president and general manager of large-format printing services provider Digital Page Inc. in Englewood, Colorado. Use a professional printing company for your signage. Otherwise, even if the big event draws customers to your door, an unprofessional image may turn them away.

3. Stand out. You want your opening to be memorable so people will return to your store. You could offer a raffle and personal tour of your facility, for a start. Other ideas include inviting the mayor or recruiting the local high school band.

Finally, make sure that when customers do return, they'll still like what they see. "If your customer comes back and the store looks like garbage or an employee is unfriendly or unknowledgeable," warns Borkowski, "then your grand opening was just a one-day event, and it was almost fake."

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