A soft opening is a great tactic that can lead to an infinitely more successful grand opening of your new store.
Quietly opening your new store’s doors a few weeks early, without the pressure or fanfare of a grand opening, is an idea that has seen steady growth in popularity through the years.
Here are five reasons this might be a good idea for your new store’s grand opening.
1. Your employees can benefit from more training.
This is probably the best, common sense reason to hold off having your grand opening be your first business day. Your employees are your first line of contact with your customers, and you want to be sure they are trained and ready to perform the way you envision.
A soft opening gives you the opportunity to observe and continue training within a somewhat controlled, “live” environment.
2. Take the opportunity to invite employee feedback.
A soft opening is a great time to invite feedback from your employees. Your first hires will have the most exposure to your new store and may have some surprising insights, fairly quickly, that you may not have considered.
Always try to be open and encouraging to their feedback and ideas. Listening to your staff also has the byproduct of fostering a team-oriented environment right from the start.
3. More thoroughly test and tweak your new store’s concept.
Hand in hand with generating employee feedback, you may discover when interacting with your first customers, with little prompting, they may be forthcoming with their own thoughts and ideas. Because, for the most part, you haven’t consciously solicited them at this stage, your first customers may not even be coming into your new store for exactly the reasons you intended. Maybe they’ve been really attracted to something you hadn’t even considered.
A soft grand opening allows you the opportunity to receive this totally honest feedback and tweak your new store concept; it’s positioning and/or marketing in ways that will lead to a more successful official grand opening.
4. Allow some time for the word to spread.
Planning your grand opening a few weeks after a soft opening will give the buzz about your new store a chance to percolate. Encourage early customers to spread the word via conversation or through social media.
People love to scoop their friends and be the first ones to check-in or post about hot new stores. It could turn your grand opening into a much-anticipated event.
5. Reward your early supporters.
The day before your grand opening, have a kick-off party. Invite those who’ve been enthusiastic early customers, your most socially vocal supporters, local VIPs and the media to possibly garner some favorable mention.
As well as acting as your final dress rehearsal for your grand opening, it brings together those who have gotten you off the ground, with many who will impact your early success.
The last few steps you take in grand opening your new store can actually be the most crucial. A soft opening could be well worth the extra time and effort, in ensuring the early success of your new store.