Steps to Planning a Successful Grand Opening

  • Happy owner of a cafe showing open sign

The Small Business Association estimates more than 627,000 new businesses open every year, while nearly the same number, 595,000, close each year. With just 51 percent of businesses surviving longer than five years, it’s more important than ever to get your new venture off to a good start.

A grand opening can be the key to building awareness and interest in your local community and even beyond. This is your most powerful opportunity to create a memorable day that can attract customers and entice them to keep coming back.

Set Your Goals

What do you hope your grand opening will accomplish? Do you want to attract media attention, customers or sponsors, show off products or services, or develop contacts? Answering these questions can help determine the type of grand opening to have and what you need to do to get it organized.

For example, if you’re looking for media publicity, consider joining a community organization or group that might allow you to get to know local politicians or other “big wigs” in your town. If you can get a local celebrity to attend, you’ll have a better chance of drawing media attention.

If your goal is to attract lots of customers, consider giving away free samples, or hold a contest in which the grand prize includes your products or services.

Scheduling the Time and Date

It’s important to schedule your grand opening at a time when people can easily attend. Many people have a hard time attending events in the middle of a work day, and their weekends may be reserved for spending time with the family. Hosting a grand opening during the evening on a weekday is generally considered to be the best time, according to Of course, this depends on the people you’re trying to attract. If your customers are stay-at-home moms, a weekday afternoon might work just fine.

Don’t schedule a grand opening party at the same time as a popular event, such as the Super Bowl, or a big celebration in your local community.


Advertising and marketing are essential factors to make people aware of your grand opening. You could buy TV and radio spots. However, there are less expensive alternatives that can be just as effective. Invest in post cards that can be used to advertise and invite the public to the event. Be sure to purchase cards made of high-quality materials, so people are impressed and wanting more. Cheap cards can make your business look unprofessional and set the wrong tone.

Offer a discount on the card potential customers can bring to receive a percentage off or a two-for-one deal. Any type of savings offer can be a profitable incentive. Hand the cards out to everyone you meet, as well as friends, family, neighbors and even other local business owners.

You can also advertise your grand opening ceremony through online ads, newspaper ads, signs and press releases.

Writing a Press Release

For a new company with a limited budget, a press release can be one of the best ways to get the word out about your new business and grand opening. Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Your press release should be no longer than one page
  • Send it out only to editors of publications that directly cover your field
  • Include your contact information in case the editor has questions
  • Create a catchy, attention-getting headline that summarizes the press release

All press releases must have a newsworthy topic. While a grand opening meets that requirement, ideally you should highlight the uniqueness of your business to make it stand out from the rest. For example, you might write an interesting blurb about why and how you started your company.