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13 Steps to Prepare for Your Business Grand Opening

Having lots of grand opening ideas is great, but it’s even more important to have a plan in place to ensure your events go smoothly. Your grand opening sets the stage for your company, and it can make a big impression on the community. Putting the pieces together before the big day helps ensure the event makes a positive impression and launches your business toward success.

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Benefits of having a grand opening

Why should you bother with the time and expense of planning a grand opening? The event can kick off your business in a positive way. Some benefits of having a grand opening include:

  • Awareness: A big event grabs attention and lets people know about a new business option in the area.
  • Branding: Your grand opening lets you convey what your company represents. You can use it to show that you’re dedicated to being a green business or serving charitable causes in the local community, for example.
  • Build relationships: Even if you don’t get a huge number of sales during the open house, you get to meet community members and start building relationships. This can help you develop partnerships with other businesses and start to earn loyal customers for your company.

A step-by-step template for your business’ grand opening

A grand opening should be treated like any other event. This means planning it out effectively. Remember, this event will be the first exposure many people have to your brand, so it’s important to make a good first impression. Decide what the focus of the event will be (giveaways, celebrations, or a grand unveiling), and make sure your budget, staffing and marketing are all worked out well in advance to help things go smoothly.

Follow this step-by-step template to planning an opening event, and ensure your new business launch goes without a hitch.

1. Set the budget for your grand opening ideas

As a new business owner, budget management is essential to keeping your business in a good place financially. Since you’re just starting your business, you don’t likely have a lot of extra cash, so keep your grand opening events and expenses realistic. Start by creating a budget for your grand opening. Some things you might need to budget for include:

  • Decorations for the grand opening event
  • Gift bags for guests
  • Giveaway prizes
  • Extra samples for products
  • Entertainers
  • Advertising costs to promote the event
  • Signs outside your building to direct people

If your budget doesn’t allow for everything you want, prioritize the items or think of alternatives. While you might not be able to afford to hire a band to perform at your opening, a local DJ could be within your budget. If traditional print advertising is too expensive, look for cheaper digital options or free promotional methods.

2. Decide on the grand opening events

The main focus of the event is letting guests experience your products or services, but grand openings also typically have special events that draw people in and make it more memorable. Consider what type of events make sense for your business and your budget. Some grand opening ideas include:

  • Special sales or discounts
  • Live entertainment
  • Local celebrity appearance
  • Samples of products
  • Facility tours
  • Special desserts, treats or gifts for guests
  • Demonstrations using your products
  • Ribbon cutting
  • Block party type event
  • Partner with another local business, such as a local art gallery that can display artwork at the opening

3. Schedule the events

It’s exciting to open a new business, so you want it to happen as soon as possible. But don’t rush the grand opening if you’re not ready. Be realistic about what you have left to do to prepare your business for opening day.

When you narrow down the general time, look for conflicts that might affect the success of your event. This includes local events that might pull people away from your grand opening, as well as broader events, such as the Super Bowl. If you’re hiring outside entertainment or vendors, verify that they’re available on the day in question before you publish the information.

4. Prepare your staff

Hire your key employees well in advance of the grand opening, so you have plenty of time to train and prepare them. A structured employee training program gives your employees the skills and knowledge they need to pull off a successful open house. Give them plenty of time to learn your products or services, understand your expectations and learn how to use your POS software and other equipment.

5. Make sure you’re legal

Long before your grand opening, verify that you have all the licenses and permits you need to operate your business legally. If you need an inspection before opening, schedule it well in advance. Take care of all those legal issues that could force you to cancel your event and toss your great grand opening ideas out the window.

6. Organize your physical space

Your physical space might need some slight changes for your open house. Consider the walkways and how much space you’ll need to accommodate a large number of people at the event. Think about where you’ll set up special displays, demonstrations and activities to ensure your guests still have enough room to walk around the store.

You might also need to set up extra checkout stations for the grand opening to get people through faster. If you plan to have outdoor activities, consider how you’ll set up those spaces.

7. Verify your inventory and supplies

The last thing you want to do is run out of ingredients for your signature dish at your restaurant opening or sell out of your products within the first hour of opening your store. Anticipate how many people will attend your grand opening and stock products, ingredients and supplies accordingly. Don’t forget essentials, such as shopping bags, receipt rolls, napkins and silverware, depending on the type of business you’re opening.

Organize your supplies and inventory for quick restocks and easy access. For example, if you anticipate a certain product to be a big seller at your retail store grand opening, have extra stock easily accessible in the back room. When the inventory on the shelves gets low, your employees can quickly restock, so guests don’t have to wait.

8. Anticipate issues

It’s common for things to go wrong, or at least not go as planned, during an open house. Even though you can’t prevent everything, anticipating the issues that might happen can help you avoid some problems. For example, if you’re planning outdoor activities as part of your grand opening, have a backup plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

If you’re planning for a certain number of people, think about how you’ll handle it if you get twice as many. Run through possible scenarios that could derail your plans, and decide how to deal with those issues if they happen.

9. Build anticipation

Start teasing the grand opening early on your social media platforms and website. You might give behind-the-scenes looks at your preparations or give a teaser about the entertainment you’ll have at the grand opening.

If you’re opening a restaurant, you might showcase one menu item you’ll serve at the grand opening each day. Engage with your social media followers to get them excited about your grand opening event.

10. Promote your grand opening

A mix of paid and free promotional methods can help you reach more people. Include the important details, including the date, time and location, for the grand opening in all your promotional materials. Some options include:

  • Press release to local media outlets
  • Ribbon-cutting ceremony with the local chamber of commerce
  • Paid online ads
  • Traditional paid print ads
  • Flyers and brochures
  • Guest posts on local blogs
  • Prize giveaway
  • Kids’ activities, such as a bounce house or craft table
  • Fundraiser for local charity
  • Speakers
  • Themed costume party

11. Invite people personally

Spreading the news about the grand opening to as many people as possible helps you attract more people, but personal invitations can also be effective. You might invite people with a strong local following, such as news anchors, radio personalities or bloggers.

If you’ve already started an email list where people can sign up to receive updates, invite those people directly. A personal invitation makes recipients feel special and might increase the chances of them attending.

12. Plan for participant promotion

Get your participants in on promoting your business to those who missed the grand opening. Inviting local influencers to the grand opening is one easy way to spread the word. The influencers will likely post from the event or promote your business later by posting a recap of the opening night.

Creating a hashtag related to your event and encouraging everyone to post about it is another option. Encourage guests to check in at your business while they’re at the event. You can even turn it into a giveaway with an extra entry into your drawing for checking in. Encourage more people to talk about it by sharing posts on social media made by guests from your grand opening.

13. Consider a soft opening

A soft opening gives you and your staff a trial run to prepare for the grand opening. You can practice with your staff all you want, but having real customers in front of them is more effective. Your employees get a chance to implement what you’ve taught them in training.

You can see the crew in action, and identify things that need to change. You can also gather feedback from the people who attend. You might invite friends, family, fellow business owners and other contacts to the soft opening. Be prepared to put what you learn into action quickly before the grand opening.

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