A grand opening is an important event for any business, and one of the crucial steps to opening a dance studio. It celebrates your efforts, gets the community involved and markets your dance school in a fun way. However, there’s more that goes into a grand opening than just picking a date and swinging open the doors.
To ensure a successful event, consider the following:
Before planning the event, make sure the building is secure. Many times a small business will have done renovations or other structural updates. For both safety and security reasons, you want to make sure electrical and plumbing is working, no debris is left behind and the space allows for the estimated crowd of your grand opening day.
Before inviting the community in, have all your branding in place. This includes installed and functioning outdoor signage, window decals, interior signs and logos. Clearly post your store hours. If hours will change after the grand opening, make that very clear. Make your main phone number very prominent.
Investing in business cards, brochures and promotional posters can be helpful dance studio advertising ideas to build awareness. Make sure these are ready for your grand opening day. There is nothing more frustrating than being ready to open and knowing your collateral is not ready to hand out.
These days, having a website for your business is essential. While it’s not absolutely necessary to have your website up and running by your grand opening, it is highly recommended. Having a website address that can be accessed after people come to the opening helps keep your information top of mind.
Not only will potential students learn your address, contact information and hours, it’s a great place to post other items to keep the community informed. Include:
- Dates classes begin/end
- Dates of performances
- Calendar of special events
- Photos of dancers
- Videos of classes or performances
- Community events where performances take place or where you will have a booth to promote your school
Planning and Budget
Having a plan is one thing. Being able to afford the event you plan is another.
Make your initial plan and then make cuts. Once you get to this stage, make a pact with yourself not to stray from your idea. Grand openings are often occasion for others to get involved and present (sometimes over-the-top expensive) ideas. You want to have a good event. You don’t want to have a good event that you will financially regret.
Allow at least six months to plan and get your budget in place. Many businesses take a year to plan a grand opening. As you chart out the planning months, set goals and checkpoints. Having one date a month where you dedicate yourself to your grand opening plans assures you are still on track and on budget.
Plan the day’s events and make a schedule that includes an opening time, entertainment, events or tours. Create an agenda so everyone involved is clear about what is happening and when.
As scheduled as the day may be, leave some flexibility. Sometimes crowds limit activities or events go longer than intended. Allowing for some wiggle room helps eliminate the stress when not everything goes off as planned.
Remember that a grand opening date does not have to be the very first day you open for business. In fact, as a dance school, you will want to showcase students and their achievements. Consider having a grand opening at least two or three months after you have begun classes. Not only will you have students, those students will have learned enough to show the success of your work.
Also, by delaying the grand opening a bit, word of mouth about your school will have already begun. When you have the grand opening event, the community can be formally introduced to the school and all you have to offer. You expand on their limited knowledge and promote things they may not know about.
When deciding to schedule the grand opening, check the calendar to make sure you don’t have a conflict with a holiday, local event, public school schedule or even bad weather. Look ahead to possible trouble dates and work around them.
Deciding on what to do at your grand opening depends largely on your target audience. Are you teaching elementary school children? You will want to entertain their parents, grandparents and the parents of prospective students. Is your target audience adults? A tour of your facilities may be as equally important as seeing current students perform.
Remember, you are welcoming people in to take a look at your school. You want to make them comfortable. Additionally, you want to be prepared to answer any and all questions. Know what your target audience might ask before they ask it. The success of most businesses is that they solve a problem for the consumer. If want you are seeking are more students, think about how your services solve a problem for them: To get in better shape? Offer an after-school option for their children? Preparation for formal dances?
At any grand opening, refreshments are typically expected. Depending on the size of your school, you may opt for do-it-yourself treats and drinks. If you’ve already got a good enrollment, students and/or their parents may contribute with baked goods and appetizers.
However, if you are responsible for all parts of the event, consider devoting part of your budget to catering. Doing so will take a lot of hassle out of the day. Caterers can be held responsible for food, set up, utensils and clean up.
You not only want your grand opening to be well attended, you want the right people in attendance. In addition to advertising your grand opening for the community in general, you should send invitations to some select individuals. This may include the mayor (see your city’s website for where to send), city council members, local celebrities and local media. Neighboring businesses should also get a special invitation. Again, consider your target audience and extend invitations to other VIPs. For example, if you are teaching elementary school children, invite the school principal and physical education teachers. Is there a local shoe store that sells ballet or tap shoes? Invite that store owner. Think about those who should know about your business and include them in your big event.
Reap the Benefits
On the day of the event, it may be possible to pull in some revenue by dedicating an area of the school to a shop where visitors can purchase promotional items such as t-shirts, duffle bags and other swag.
However, you want your grand opening to have benefits long after the party is over. This is the time to build a database of prospective customers.
Consider having a sign up sheet where people can provide names and email addresses. You might even invest in an email provider that offers simple SMS (texting) options. This way, people at the event can text their name to a special promotional number. You then capture their information for your database and later communications.
A grand opening is also a great place to run promotional offers such as discounts and giveaways. Consider creating offers that bring in new students or allow people to try different classes. Look at this event as a way to turn the excitement of the day into excitement about your school overall. This is a time to promote yourself shamelessly, network and connect with the community in way that will last over the long term.