Whether you are an emerging or legacy brand, guiding your franchisees toward successful grand openings can make a huge difference for new owners and their businesses. And it all starts with a plan. Much like franchisors provide design and style guidelines for brand consistency, think about how grand opening success rates could soar with plans, procedures and strategies provided by corporate.
Grand openings should create awareness of your brand, generate local excitement, build strategic relationships and make a great first impression. Grand opening guidelines should include everything from setting a budget, promoting the event and continuing the momentum after the grand opening.
- Set a Schedule – Your new franchisees are ready to begin the preparation for their grand openings. Provide a timeline. Give them every detail of what they need to do as part of a countdown to opening.
- Budget – From signage to traditional and online promotion, recommend a set budget. There should be no surprises here. If you have approved/preferred vendors, be sure franchisees know who they are so they can get prepared within the budget.
- Brand Awareness – If your franchise is new to an area, it is critical that your franchisees use grand openings as a way to communicate your brand and what products/services you provide. Branding should be clear and consistent so customers instantly recognize your business.
- Create Relationships – Your franchisees most important relationships are with their customers, but grand openings are a great time to build relationships with the community and other local businesses. Inviting members of the Chamber of Commerce or partnering up with a local charity or business can elevate a grand opening and create extra buzz around the event.
- PR – Be sure franchisees are using brand-approved language in news releases; provide talking points in case a reporter attends the grand opening; and train owners to assume that everything is “on the record” and to speak in complete sentences when answering questions, as one-word answers do not make good quotes. Work with a PR agency, if needed.
- Social Media – Within your library of approved creative, include images, customizable posts, tweets and other sharable content that represent your brand well. Promote across all platforms.
- Traditional Media – Include traditional media channels like local newspapers and radio stations to help residents feel connected to what is going on in their community. According to Nielsen, radio reaches 92 percent of Americans over the age of 18 every week.
Projecting for the Future
- Lead Generation – Grand openings should always lead to staying in touch with consumers. Offer a plan for ways your franchisees can stay in touch with visitors from the event. Design an activity to get email addresses, cell numbers and social media followers. Offering an incentive like a coupon often makes visitors feel less pressured to share their details.
There are so many details to consider during the exciting grand opening phase, but with careful direction on planning and execution, you can help your franchisees launch their businesses successfully.