Updated: Feb 25
Create A Plan For Your Grand Opening
1. Take The Time To Plan Your Coffee Shop Grand Opening
Making a plan for your grand opening may seem obvious, but you would be amazed at how often this idea gets thrown to the wayside. Actually, it’s not hard to see why. Typically, an owner in the midst of preparing for a grand opening is still dealing with contractors, vendors, staff hiring and training, and all the other logistics that go into making sure operations are good to go. They don’t have time to think about the grand opening!
Planning is the time equivalent of the phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We all know how good it is to have a plan, but often it seems like we never have time. That’s exactly right, though-we don’t.
We may feel like we’re running behind and have a million things to do because we never set a plan in the first place. Creating a plan helps you focus on the important, less urgent things and the things that need a long lead-time, but will pay huge dividends.
Plan Ahead for the Coffee Shop Grand Opening
Ideally, create a full marketing plan for your grand opening with a six month timeline. In these six months you will meet nearby business owners, meet with or talk to local media outlets and influencers, order any merchandise you need for the grand opening, encourage word of mouth through social media, and run paid ad campaigns.
2. Meet Other Business Owners
One of the first things to do is meet the other business owners around your shop’s location. Introduce yourself face-to-face if possible. If not, ask an employee of the business for the owner’s email address or phone number. As long as you tell them you’re a new business owner nearby, it shouldn’t be a problem. Most business owners want to help and support other business owners. When nearby businesses thrive, so does their own.
Don’t be afraid to ask for gift cards or discounts from other business owners to use as incentives at your coffee shop's grand opening.
3. Talk with Local Media
The next thing you’ll want to do is identify and talk with local media and influencers. A simple interview is great. Tell them you have something exciting that their audience will love. Before these interviews, make sure that you nail down the grand opening date so that you can share it with them.
4. Get on Social Media
In the four weeks before your grand opening, start posting on social media consistently. Give them a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on. Simply put, invite people into the details of opening and what the finished shop will be like.
5. Run Paid Ads
Additionally, you can run paid ads like direct mailers and social media ads. This is particularly good if you can get people into the store during a soft opening. Also, let interested parties know about your grand opening. For instance, does your city have a specialty coffee society? Or possibly an eater.com website?
6. Plan Out the Grand Opening Day-Of Events
In your planning, think about what time you want guests to arrive, where they will be entering, ordering, and leaving, and how long you’d like guests to stay. If you want guests to come at the opening time, plan and promote an incentive for the first ten or twenty people who arrive.
Chick-fil-a has seen success with this idea. Every time they open a new restaurant, they give away “free Chick-fil-a for a year” to the first 100 people on opening day. People camp out for days beforehand. Particularly if your storefront is highly visible, having people wait outside creates a buzz that fuels interest.
7. Include a Giveaway
Just make sure that you are promising something worthwhile that people will want to wait around for. Don’t make a “swag bag” full of cheap tchotchkes like pens and socks.
Choose incentives that people will actually want to use, and preferably something that encourages people to become more passionate about your brand or product. Like in the Chick-fil-a example, the incentive is chicken sandwiches doled out every week for a year, this actually helps create a habit that will continue after the gift expires.
If you plan on having the grand opening as a come-and-go anytime event, plan some simple activities or contests throughout the day. This makes the entire day feel special and customers can come and go as their schedule allows.
As I mentioned, don’t just give away random gifts like Amazon gift cards, etc. Put some thought into prizes that will cultivate a love for your product or brand or, as a secondary, a gift from a local business.
8. Work Out All the Kinks in Your Coffee Shop's Soft Opening
This is what soft openings are for. I’m always shocked when business owners of any kind tell me they’re not having a soft opening, and just going straight into a grand opening. There are just some things you’ll never be able to predict. Having a soft opening gives you the opportunity to address those unforeseen things, and customers will typically be more forgiving during those time period as well.
Back in the early days of software development, most companies thought a product had to be perfect before releasing it. And they were right-it did. Until one day, Google released a product with “beta” after the name. Implying that this was the basic idea of the product, but not 100% polished.
This meant that customers gave them a little more grace when the product didn’t work like it was supposed to. I mean, hey, it’s the beta, right? Then when the company feels like they got enough things right, they drop the “beta” and launch the product. This is the same idea of a soft opening and grand opening.
9. Network Like Crazy
It’s no surprise that you’re going to tell your own personal network. The problem is most people stop there and don’t tell anyone else. They think everyone they know will come because they told them about their grand opening once or twice.
But you’re smarter than that. You’ve met the other nearby business owners and local media and influencers. Keep that networking going by identifying target markets and then showing up where they are. Do you think some people will stop into your shop on their way to work at nearby business buildings? Stop in to those buildings beforehand and introduce yourself. Maybe drop off a flyer or some free coffee coupons (yes, coupons).
Identify super-connectors and see if you can introduce yourself to them. Coffee shops are often second offices for entrepreneurs, pastors, and realtors. See if you can identify anyone nearby who think would be a super-connector. Often, these people use coffee shops as meetup spots, so getting these super-connectors into your shop will help bring other people in as well.
10. Bring In Something Cool and Unique
For the coffee shop's grand opening, you NEED to make it special. Offering a BOGO or free deal may get people to show up, but it won’t create a memorable experience.
The point of a grand opening is to create something cool and unique that people will remember and will cause them to return.
I recently went to a grand opening for a coworking space that had a cool balloon setup that faded from pink to white with all different sized balloons. While it looked pretty, it actually didn’t create a very memorable experience. It may be nice for pictures, but your customers won’t feel an emotional attachment to your shop only because of nice aesthetics.
Think about how you could incorporate experiences into your grand opening. Does your coffee shop’s name have a theme? Maybe you could bring in an actor to play a character that aligns with the theme?
It doesn’t have to be branded, though. For example, I had a cold-brew chugging contest at one event. We also hosted a French press class that day. Other possibilities are hiring a face painter, bringing in a photo booth, a food truck, live music, or a behind-the-scenes look at something in your shop.
11. Start Marketing Before You Open Your Coffee Shop
As I mentioned earlier, start marketing as early as you can! When launching my coffee roasting business, I sent emails regularly updating my audience on where we were in the process, what hurdles we encountered, and what we were looking forward to. People love getting a behind-the-scenes look. If you have an audience already, introduce them to your new business through whatever channel you use, and ask them to follow along in the opening process.
People will have much more buy-in when they know the story behind the brand.
Too many people wait too long to get the word out about their event. Posting on social media during the event asking people to come is too late. Sorry, but no one is going to see your event live on social media and then drop everything to attend. It just doesn't happen. You have to tell people about the event much earlier.
Let people know early and let them know often. Post signs in your shop during soft opening and around other businesses as well. Two weeks prior is a good rule of thumb for a come-and-go event. Use all resources possible to get the word out yourself. If people don’t know, they won’t come. It’s as simple as that.
I hope this article has helped you think through grand opening preparation for your coffee shop. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com! If you’re looking for coffee to serve at your coffee shop, I suggest giving supergoodcoffee.co a shot. I hope your grand opening is a huge success!
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