Grand Openings and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies
Grand openings and ribbon-cutting ceremonies are great opportunities for a new business to get started. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is one of several activities, but when resources are limited, it is often used alone to announce "to the world" that doors are open for business.
The MAHCC conducts Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies as a free service to Chamber Members. A ceremony may be performed by itself or as a part of an open house or grand opening.
To qualify for Chamber participation:
- You must be a MAHCC member;
- The event will be held within the first year (12 months) of opening the business and preferably 30 to 60 days after opening; or
- It is an existing business under new ownership.
Regardles of whether it is a more formal and elaborate event or a simpler one, the goal remains the same: To promote the new business within its service area. For that reason alone, grand openings should be an integral part of a marketing plan.
Considering all the planning and work that's involved in getting a business off the ground, it may be tempting to treat an opening as a minor affair, but an effective opening campaign may be the best marketing plan in the early stages, and one that could help decide the business' rapid success or early demise.
Planning for a business opening is 80% of its success and should start the moment the space is leased. Even when renovations are uderway, prominent signs on the outside walls announcing the name of the business and the general date when it will be opened help create suttle expectations in the community that something interesting is about to happen in their neighborhood.
Ideas for grand openings abound and range from thrifty to extravagant; so, it is important to prepare a budget for it. Most small businesses, however, have small marketing budgets and, therefore, they need to be resourceful. Announcing the opening of a business may be as simple as passing flyers in the community, placing ads in local radio stations, cable TV or newspapers, or just personally inviting neighbors and other prospective customers.
What Does the MAHCC Do?
- Costs are covered through your Chamber Membership;
- Sends a press release out at the same time you send yours;
- Brings the camera, official giant scissors, and ribbon;
- Sends out a broadcast e-mail to either Chamber Board Members or members to notify them of your opening;
- E-mails to you upon request photos of the ceremony.
What Does Your Company Do?
- Sets the date and time of the event, typically Monday thru Friday between 8:00am and 4:00 pm;
- Coordinates with the Chamber well in advance to avoid date and time conflicts;
- Invites public officials if desired;
- Invites the news media (newspapers, TV and radio stations)
- Provides any refreshments for those in attendance
- Prepares an agenda as things run much more smoothly with an agenda, even if it is just sketched out. (See below.)
- Provides background information on your company ahead of time to those who are speaking so they can prepare remarks
Your program could be something like this...
- Welcome Guests - Introductions done by a Chamber representative;
- Introduction of Company President or Manager;
- Congratulatory Remarks from Chamber and/or other dignitaries these are very brief (1-3 minutes total);
- Cut the ribbon usually done by head of company or representative, some choose to have all employees do the cutting;
- "Thank you for attending" - by a company rep;
- Intro on the company done by a company rep. Explain what your business is and does, your hours; introduce your staff;
- Then invite everyone to take a look at your facility, stay for refreshments, and if large enough, you might want to offer tours
Please keep in mind:
- Stay in touch with the Chamber as your plans progress; and,
- If you've asked for RSVP's, people will typically wait until the last minute or will show up without RSVP-ing
Because most businesses serve local communities, it is best and more economical to use local talent to draw attention to to it. Here are a few ideas for a grand opening:
- Local talent may include costumed characters inside the business entertaining guests, and oversized ones outside to help draw attention to the grand opening;
- High school bands and cheerleaders add a festive mood to the event;
- Start early sending press releases to newspapers, chambers of commerce, civic organizations, etc.;
- Asking adults to bring children and other relatives and local friends to expand the size of the crowd;
- Recruit young people to help at the opening: They are fun to have and would be glad to help distribute programs and serve refreshments and finger food;
- Invite a local minister, rabbi or priest to offer a brief blessing for the new business;
- Identify a volunteer or professional photographer to take pictures that can be emailed later to those who left an email address or dropped a business card (that's how a customer's email list gets started;
- Ask local dignataries such as Mayors, club and chamber presidents, etc., to help welcome the business to the community in the form of a county or city proclamation as well as speaking at the grand opening. Their participation lends the business more credibility;
- Lay a red carpet leading into the front door of the business to highlight the event's importance; and,
- Cutting the ribbon with extra-large ceremonial scissors and/or releasing helium-filled, colored balloons creates a great photo opportunity for the local news media .
The Chamber has experience in planning for grand openings. Whether it is a new business or rebranding an existing one, we would be happy to be part of it because helping you start and grow your businesses is what we do everyday.
Please contact the Chamber as early as possible because planning for a grand opening takes time and it is 80% of what it takes to get your business started on the right foot.
Recent Grand Openings:
- August 15, 2011 - Wachovia Bank - Wormans Mill Branch, Frederick, MD.
- April 13, 2011 - AT&T Mobile Phone Store, Wireless Outlet, Inc., Arlington, VA.