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March 27, 2018

Essential Checklist How to Plan a Successful Restaurant Grand Opening

People smiling posing for a picture for their grand opening

Opening a new restaurant is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. All the anticipations and visions of your new restaurant are on the verge of becoming a reality. It's taken time, effort and ingenuity to get your restaurant off the ground and you wouldn't want to set your self back right out the gate with a poor launch. That's why we created a list of 10 essential strategies you could employ to help your next restaurant grand opening go off without out a hitch.  Let's get to it!

1. Have Your Business Plan in Order 

There are many elements that go on behind the scenes of a business that customers never see but drastically affect the daily function of your restaurant. Having a sound business plan before opening doors will give a restaurant its direction and purpose. This could be held as top priority for any business because if their is no business plan that offers direction, than why is the restaurant here? Creating a business plan that covers such areas of finance, marketing, management, and customer service will help to alleviate growing pains instead of playing a game of trial and error that could ultimately cripple a new restaurant within its first few years of service. A solid foundation must be set up to build off of so that everything else can fall into place much easier without having to make chaotic rearrangements. 

2. Start Early and Plan Accordingly

Procrastination kills, and we aren't talking about finishing up a school paper at the last minute. When it comes to a successful grand opening, pieces have to be in the right position and those positions must be set up from the very beginning. Rushing the organization of your grand opening will leave the event feeling like an unpolished celebration. It may seem overly simple but creating a detailed list of all the goals you want to accomplish on opening day will help to prioritize which tasks need to be completed promptly. Many can attest that strong preparation leads to a strong performance and that philosophy couldn't be any more important when it comes to the preparation and launch of your new restaurant.

Not sure how to stretch your marketing dollars?

Here are 10 things to cut from you restaurant marketing that will help free some of those dollars up. 

10 things to cut from your restaurant marketing

3. Budget 

Overextending is common pitfall that many businesses can fall victim to when launching their new business and this is no different for restaurants. Managing your restaurant's finances should already be a priority but even more so on opening day. Knowing how much money your restaurant is spending for marketing, advertising and operation will create a budget for the restaurant to follow when having a grand opening. This goes back to having business plan, having a set budget keeps the restaurant from overextending and taking on considerable debt that sets the business back before its even left the ground. 

4. Media Press Release  

Having a media press release is a great way to share your up and coming restaurant with the world. Media press releases are a form of advertising that are created to promote and bring awareness to a new business or service and in this case your new restaurant. These articles can be easily created by local ad agencies and then posted to subsequent websites that have local audiences who would be interested in a new restaurant in their area. This press release doesn't have to be overly extravagant or just for your opening day, but more so to inform the local area of a new restaurant in town. Press releases are sound ways to reach new customers and create buzz leading up to your grand opening. 

5. Alert Your Chamber of Commerce  

Do not forget about your local community as a new restaurant. Being apart of city offers the opportunity to stay in contact and work with your local Chamber of Commerce. A city's Chamber of Commerce usually plays a prominent roll with the grassroots foundation of it's city and often times works in tandem with local businesses to promote growth of both the community and the businesses in it. Alerting and working with your local Chamber of Commerce leading up to the grand opening of your restaurant is a major plus to establishing a long lasting relationship with your community. Customers will appreciate and feel good about eating at a restaurant that is active and cares about its local community.

6. Throw Multiple Events  

Being involved in local events teeters the same line as working with your local Chamber of Commerce. Looking for local events, fundraisers, fairs and sporting events that your restaurant can become involved with, sponsor or support is a great way to promote the grand opening of your new restaurant. These don't have to be huge events but being involved with local groups and associations shows a level of involvement that is more than simply paying to be a sponsor just for advertising sake. It can be a fairly inexpensive and genuine way to let the public know your opening a new and intriguing restaurant in their area.

7. Have a Soft Opening 

Soft openings are great because they offer multiple avenues for new restaurants have small opening events that aren't too overwhelming but still good for getting experience. Just how no two restaurants are exactly the same, the multiple types of soft openings can also vary greatly. Some restaurants can decide to simply open their doors quietly to avoid the chaos and build up of a "Grand Opening Day," while others may decide to have small select openings for maybe friends and family or for other local media sites and businesses to help build a buzz before the official opening. Soft openings are great for new restaurants because they offer the flexibility to let others try out your new cuisine and dinning environment without the pressure of all or nothing on opening day. 

8. Hire the Right People  

So you have the business plan developed, set a budget and are sticking to it, decided on the level of advertising you want leading up to the grand opening and even reached out to local associations and businesses in your community to help build a foothold. But when the the doors officially open you can't do all the work, so who is going to help you? Employees! But not just any old person who simply wants a job. Hiring the right people you feel fit the vibe and culture of your restaurant is paramount to forming a team that is all for one and one for all. Musketeer jokes aside, it is very important to screen and hire employees that fit your ideals so that you can give them clear job instructions and feel sound that they are carrying them out to the letter. 

9. Train Your Staff Ahead of Time 

Piggy backing on the topic above, giving your staff clear and concise instructions and job duties with ample time to employ best practices is key to hit the ground running on opening day. This goes back to planning accordingly so that on opening day no one is in a panic. Are there things out of your control and situations you can't account for? Yes, but those situations can be greatly limited when everybody from servers to chefs to managers knows exactly what their tasks are and how to diagnose and resolve possible problems effectively. Many of these points listed in this article circle back to having a strong plan in advance and preparing beforehand to avoid set backs. By stepping back and assessing your future launch schedule, you can assess possible pain points and create effective strategies that will help your restaurant have a successful launch and subsequent growth.

10. Invite Bloggers and Influencers 

This is really the icing on the cake and actually ties very well back into soft openings. Restaurants can reach out to local bloggers and foodies that are in neighboring cities to come and visit your new restaurant. Working with bloggers and influencers is great way to help word of mouth spread and create buzz about this awesome new restaurant on the rise. Don't be shy to invite multiple influencers or food bloggers out to either opening day or a private soft opening where they can try the cuisine themselves. As long as you stay genuine to who your restaurant is, the possibilities for growth will always flourish. 

Opening a new restaurant? We can help with your restaurant marketing. Contact us today (951) 479-5411.

Not sure how to stretch your marketing dollars?

Here are 10 things to cut from you restaurant marketing that will help free some of those dollars up.

10 things to cut from your restaurant marketing

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