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Planning a Grand Opening

Planning a Grand Opening

Oct 26th 2021 Written by Ragan LaTour

As opening day draws closer, you may find yourself restless, filled with both joy and anxiety, as the time comes to witness your hard work transform from dream to reality. We understand, the grand opening can be a stressful time, but planning accordingly can alleviate some of that worry. It's your shot to leave a lasting impression on the people in the community — people who, if you play your cards right, could become frequent customers.

So, needless to say, you want your grand opening to be a celebration that goes off without a hitch. The best way to achieve this is to start planning early! We recommend beginning this process 2-3 months before the date of the opening, that way, you can ensure that you and your staff are adequately prepared for such an important and exciting day!

We want to help you plan a grand opening that won't soon be forgotten, so we’ve broken down many of the tasks that need to be taken into consideration before the big day. We’ve also created a convenient checklist/form to fill out so you can weigh your options and ensure you don’t forget anything.

People sitting at a table with coffee notebook and laptop

Get to Planning

Setting a goal

Before you dive headfirst into details like entertainment and signature grand opening drinks, you must first determine what it is you’re trying to achieve. Obviously the point is to build lasting relationships with the people around the neighborhood and potential customers, but at the end of the day you want to walk away with clear data illustrating the success of the day. The best way to do this is by determining a measurable goal. To put it simply, at the end of your grand opening, what is it that you hope to have walked away with that can be measured or counted? Are you looking for a set number of people to attend and purchase your drinks? Or perhaps it’s getting a specific number of contacts to add to your email list or loyalty program. Regardless of what you decide your goal is, it's best to determine this first in order to let it work as a roadmap moving forward.

Picking a date

Once your goal is determined, the next step is to pick a date. This date should be chosen very carefully, taking into consideration any holidays that may be happening, as this can deter people from showing up due to prior commitments. Weekends tend to work best, as more people are off from work and school and willing to take their time to enjoy the cafe and drinks rather than rushing in to order coffee on their way to work.

Setting a budget

It’s easy to want to go all out for your grand opening and spend money on the fun extras like extravagant decorations and well-known entertainment. However, it's important to remember that your budget needs to be realistic. The grand opening will be one of the biggest marketing events of the year for your business, so it’s safe to allot 20% of your marketing budget for the year on this event, but you don’t want to spend the remainder of your first year financially recovering from a single party. The budget will look different for every coffee shop, so determine a safe number for you and your business, and most importantly, make sure to stick with it! You’ll thank yourself later. Also, be on the lookout for ways to collaborate — which we’ll talk about later — and utilize the people and resources you already have access to.

Behind the Bar Prep

Grand opening drinks

Prior to opening day, you definitely want to have your menu set. This may include a variety of drinks that will be regularly featured on the menu, but including an exclusive or limited-time drink for your grand opening can be a fun way to draw in customers. Consider a drink that highlights who you are as a business, the community in which you’re located, or perhaps a seasonal twist. This is an opportunity to see what people are most eager to order and even receive feedback.

Inventory

Once your menu's determined, you need to make sure you have adequate inventory for the day of the event, as well as enough for the baristas to practice and perfect the drinks prior to opening day. Beyond coffee and milk, consider things like to-go cup options, filters, sweeteners, and syrups. Taking a moment to brainstorm and develop a list will prevent you forgetting small, yet important, details. Items may need to be ordered at different times due to freshness and shipping, so get with your suppliers prior ordering to get a realistic lead time. Ordering as early as possible leave time to solve any possible hiccups that may arise before they become a last-minute problem.

Check out our Coffee Shop Inventory blog to explore some of your options when planning consumables to stock.

“When there are multiple baristas behind the bar working on numerous orders, you want the process to be as smooth and streamlined as possible.”

Bar flow

You want the drinks to be made quickly and efficiently. The easiest way to achieve this is to make sure you have a functioning bar flow. When there are multiple baristas behind the bar working on numerous orders, you want the process to be as smooth and streamlined as possible. Achieving this is much easier when the equipment is positioned in a way that makes sense — items like filters and milk pitchers in the correct station, and very little foot movement being requiring to get what is needed. This allows the baristas to get from point A to point B as easily as possible. Taking the time to do this will prevent unwanted elbow bumps or collisions that may result in a spilt drink or worse, an injury.

POS

Lastly for behind-the-bar prep, you need a point of sale, or POS system. If you have not already, you need to choose a system works best for the needs of your cafe. There are numerous options available on the market, but it may take some time and research to determine which is best for you and your business. It’s a good idea to order the hardware at least 2 weeks in advance due to shipping and the time needed to set up the system.

Training

The equipment ready and your ingredients delivered, now it’s time to start training the baristas. You want to make sure they can operate all of the equipment with ease, make consistently delicious drinks, navigate the POS, and maybe even have a crash course on how to create beautiful latte art.

two men behind a coffee bar

Storefront

Once you know everything behind the bar is good to go, it’s time to make sure the guests are in awe of the design and aesthetic of your shop. This includes the fun things like signage, flow of the shop, decorations, food and music, and merch.

Design and Layout

When you first got lost in the daydream of opening your very own coffee shop you knew what you wanted it to look like, whether that’s a warm, cozy neighborhood nook, or a sleek and modern hangout, there is an image ingrained in your mind. The grand opening is the time to show everyone what you’re all about. Tables and chairs need to be positioned in a way that allows people to easily maneuver their way around the cafe. Thinking ahead and considering things like where a line may form and whether or not it will interfere with people already seated will, save you from additional stress on opening day.

“This is the perfect time to start utilizing your friendships and connections, or even begin networking more closely with other local vendors. ”

Food and music

Food and music can eat up a good bit of your grand opening budget. This is the perfect time to start utilizing your friendships and connections, or even begin networking more closely with other local vendors.

Think about the food you may want to offer at the grand opening. If you’re already planning on selling food or pastries at your coffee shop, this is a great time to offer up a freebie or discount. People love free things, especially food. If you do not plan to sell food, try collaborating with a local baker and see if there is a way to reach an agreement where you can get their food at a discounted price by giving them free publicity, such as leaving business cards on the table with the pastries.

People love music too! Space permitting, hiring a local musician or DJ is a great way to get the party started! If there is a talented musician in your life, give them a call and see if they’re interested in playing your grand opening for the exposure, or possibly a small payment. If you don’t personally know anyone well enough to ask, look around on social media. Lesser-known local musicians are always looking for gigs to play and a grand opening has the potential to draw in a large crowd. Be polite and courteous of their time, but there is a reasonable chance you’ll find someone more than willing to play without breaking the bank.

An important side note: if you’re serving food and music, ensure you have the correct local permits required well ahead of time.

Marketing

Merch

Merch, such as t-shirts, sunglasses, or hats, are a great addition to your grand opening. If people are impressed with your cafe, they may be interested in purchasing something with your name or logo on it. Design something stays true to your brand and spend time shopping for the best prices and quality of shirts. Every they're worn, it's free advertisement for your coffee shop.

Social media

Social media is your friend. An important first step is to make a social media account for your business. From the moment you know the date of the grand opening, leading up until the day it happens, you can post announcements, reminders, and countdowns that spread the word and encourage them to follow you for more information. Make sure to encourage your friends and family to share them to increase your reach. Oh, not to mention, this form of marketing is 100% free.

In addition to utilizing social media, make sure your page has a website. This is another great place to make announcements on any upcoming events, share what’s on the menu, and even sell merch!

Media

That’s right, there’s no “social” before this media. A really great way to reach people in the community is through the local news. This can seem tricky, and it can be, but with a proper, captivating press release, you may be exactly what a local journalist is looking to cover.

It’s very important to not save this for the last minute, sending out press releases to the local papers should be done at least one month before the date of the grand opening. In order to catch their attention, you need to figure out what makes your shop different — newsworthy. Think back on your shops story, what lead you to this place? Were there hiccups along the way? Check into the history of the location of your cafe, is there a hook there? Once you've figured out what makes your coffee shop unique, check out this article to learn the correct way to format a press release.

Disposable coffee up with logoed sleeve

Print marketing

The most basic way to advertise your grand opening is to simply hang flyers up around town! It’s amazing what a piece of paper and word-of-mouth can accomplish. By hanging up flyers locally, you’ll be reaching your target audience, the locals around your area. Close proximity makes attending your grand opening easy and accessible. Make sure to include your logo, address, time and events that will be taking place, and most importantly, make sure it stands out!

Your grand opening is supposed to be a day of excitement, the day when you witness all of your hard work finally pay off. If you prepare ahead of time, you will be able to enjoy the day, taking in the sights, sounds, and people as a new reality unfolds before you. Let us be the first to congratulate you on making it this far, and if you would like additional help with opening our cafe, feel free to book a call with our commercial services team!

Oct 26th 2021 Ragan LaTour

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