Planning and executing a great event like a restaurant grand opening is part of our core service offerings at Franco. We’ve planned grand opening events for a variety of clients, including Buddy’s Pizza, Jolly Pumpkin and many more.

From building a successful plan to getting the right media, influencers and community leaders to the ribbon cutting, here’s a step-by-step checklist I like to follow:

Set Goals & Develop a Plan

Every successful grand opening starts with a strong plan. As with any communications plan, you first need to establish goals. It’s important to come together as a team and ask the right questions to agree on the goals for your grand opening. This creates a foundation moving forward. Here are a few of my favorite questions to discuss:

  • Who are the key internal players (make sure there is a representative from the various departments that will play a part in the grand opening)?
  • What date are we targeting for the opening, and what else is happening in the area/community around that time?
  • What does the market landscape look like (geographic and demographic elements)?
  • What’s most important to us for the grand opening: drive store visits and sales, create brand awareness or a combination?
  • How big of an event are we aiming for (anticipated number of attendees)?
  • Do we need to hire other vendors (food, music, stages, etc.)?
  • Who do we want to speak on behalf of our company and on behalf of the community?
  • What’s the budget?

Once these questions (and likely others) are answered, you can start to develop a detailed grand opening plan. Start high level and order everything chronologically. Then you can break down the detailed tasks of what you need to do to get your desired result in the end.

Make sure you assign an owner to each task so everyone on the team knows who is responsible for each of the to-do items.

Join the Community

It’s important to do your research before opening a new location. Ask yourself, what does our company pride itself on? Which organizations align with our mission and core values? Adding a community giving component to your grand opening shows from the get-go that you’re invested in this community.

The local Chamber of Commerce, mayor’s office or other local dignitaries are great influencers to connect with when opening a new location. As noted in the section about questions to ask, consider giving one (or more) local dignitaries a speaking role at your grand opening event.

One core value Franco client Buddy’s Pizza prides itself on is being community focused. When Buddy’s opens a new restaurant, they don’t just enter the community – they immerse themselves in it. Buddy’s gives back to each community by finding an organization that aligns with its mission and brings that organization on as a charity partner for its grand opening.

Create a Robust Media and Influencer Coverage Pan

Timing and creativity of your media plan can make or break the quantity and quality of coverage.

With a brand like Buddy’s and their strong group of followers, news breaks (and spreads!) fast. Timing is of the essence when sharing news with media/influencers to ensure maximum results.

Over the past year, our team has found releasing information on social media first to Buddy’s loyal fan base has helped gain more coverage. We start to tease information like, “We are getting ready to announce our next location, where do you think it will be?” to generate excitement among our followers, many of which include media and influencers.

Once the news breaks, we distribute the press release with all other information, including the grand opening date, what the new opening will entail, who Buddy’s will partner with in the community and what specials the restaurant will offer on opening day.

The last earned media push our team likes to do before the official grand opening are pizza drops. TV stations, especially in Detroit, love their Buddy’s Pizza! We send out an advisory with the pizza to stations in the area inviting them to attend the grand opening ceremony. As media professionals often get their days upended by breaking news, we know there’s no guarantee they’ll attend the event. But we know they will enjoy the pizza and likely give us a brief mention on-air or on their social media channels. Who knows, we may even get a surprise helicopter to come and do a fly over!Celebrate Another Grand Opening

By now everything should be set in place. You’ve completed all the steps in your plan, connected with community members, shared your news with media and your social media followers and finished up any last-minute day-of operations.

Enjoy the day and let the fun begin! The opening ceremony is where you show off all your hard work and commitment to this new community. Spend the day further developing those relationships with community officials and assisting media professionals to capture the right footage and interviews with your spokesperson.

Need help planning a grand opening or another big event? Contact us to learn more.

Samantha Meyer is an Assistant Account Executive at Franco. She can be reached at meyer@franco.com.