How Do You Stage a Successful New Store Grand Opening?

We asked David Buckley, chief marketing officer for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, the following question: "How do you stage a successful new store grand opening, to nuts?" Here's what he had to say.

The first step to a successful franchisee grand opening is disciplined advance planning. Our planning begins with a review of our cadence for chain-wide promotional offers to select a date where we will have the most attractive offers in the marketplace. A successful grand opening is built upon a solid promotional offer. Once we have selected a date for our grand opening, we will execute multiple grand openings on the same date to drive operational efficiencies. This allows us to increase the effectiveness of our budgeted investment for the event. With advance planning we are also able to leverage our existing media, versioning the to support grand opening markets.

With the national support media and promotions finalized, the focus turns to building local awareness and hype. Franchisees are provided with a complete grand opening signing package that includes interior signing, exterior banners, and adversails. To prepare locally for the event, the franchisee plays an important role in engaging with the community. As the grand opening may be the franchisee's first store in our business, their district sales manager plays a significant role in building a local action plan to ensure a successful event. To aid the franchisee in promoting the event, we have developed an online portal allowing the franchisee to customize a wide variety of local marketing assets. The assets to be activated locally are selected by the franchisee and include ROP templates, EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), local flyers, signs, and door hangers.

Digital advertising and social media also play an important role in a successful grand opening. Pre-opening, we ensure data is correct and that the location is properly represented in more than 30 different major websites including Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Superpages, MapQuest, and Yellowbook. As the event approaches, promotional messaging is posted to each of the sites that have that capability. For social exposure, each store launches with a Facebook page, which the franchisee is encouraged to use to engage fans with pictures and stories from their journey of building their store.

The final piece to kicking off a strong grand opening includes a local radio station remote broadcast. Partnering with a radio station builds awareness through the associated radio commercials and promotional mentions, and the radio station also builds some excitement on the day of the event. Great radio partners will help make the event come alive with high-visibility tents and vans, as well as activities and giveaways throughout the day.

For our business, the successful event combines advance planning, strong traditional and digital integration, local excitement, and most important... franchisee engagement.

David Buckley is chief marketing officer for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, where he leads a team that executes large-scale, nationwide marketing strategies while leveraging the hyper-local aspect of retailing for more than 1,100 locations in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico.

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