Your grand opening day is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to your community, so make sure you have a gimmick that will get your neighbors talking. Don’t spend a lot of money on entertainment, tchotchkes, and other unnecessary expenses. Instead, consider offering a huge discount on your products and services on that day.
You have a limited window of time to use this strategy effectively, because once you’ve been in business for some time, people will start to wonder if your store is in financial trouble if you start offering huge deals for no apparent reason.
I made the mistake of wasting a lot of money on useless expenses during our grand opening celebration. I even hired a drag queen and an acrobat to walk the streets of our neighborhood to distribute flyers and draw attention to our store (Don’t forget, my UPS Store was located in San Francisco!).
But the gimmick that proved most effective was offering a huge discount (5o% off) on mailboxes for one day only. We acquired over 30 new mailbox holders in a single day. To give this number some context, during our 3-week soft opening, we were able to sign just 1 or 2 contracts. The best part is that many of these customers remained loyal to the store during my entire 3 year run, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are still using the same mailbox to this very day.
Over the past few years, Denny’s and KFC have offered free meals to the public, generating a lot of national media attention in the process. Small business owners like us cannot afford to give our products and services away for free. But we can certainly afford to sell them at or near cost for a single day if it means generating a lot of buzz and letting people in our neighborhood know that we mean business.
Take advantage of social media (Facebook and Twitter) to spread the word about your grand opening promotion, so that you start your big day with a line outside your store. Once you have a small crowd going, you have a good chance of attracting curious passers-by and hopefully the attention of your neighbors and the local media.