CASE STUDY: GRAND OPENING
A South Florida Regional Latin Grilled Chicken Chain was expanding into a new west coast market. The brand wanted to demonstrate to investors that the concept could not only survive, but also actually thrive in an Anglo-centric market.
The brand could not justify an ongoing substantial advertising budget for one unit in market. Additionally, due to zoning restrictions, there were no billboards available in the trade area. The company believed an aggressive grand opening plan and ongoing local store marketing initiative was required.
The brand leveraged its greatest asset—its food. We developed a 90-day countdown to open during which we scheduled food drops to area opinion leaders, hosted a VIP night, media challenge and weeklong grand opening celebration.
Get the food in their mouths
Get them to explore the menu
Incent others to talk up the benefits of the brand and its great taste
And encourage guests to come back again and again
Schedule business food drops
Conduct massive product samplings
Host a Chef’s Tasting event
Stage a VIP night
Create a memorable Grand Opening and ribbon cutting event
Develop a quirky “Surfing” Contest
Conduct on-site loyalty club registration
Encourage charity challenges
Secure a media challenge benefitting charities
Plan a door hanging effort
Build and tour mobile billboards
Develop a “Little Miss” Toddler beauty pageant
Barter for radio remotes
Execute a post open calendar of events
The devil is in the details. Many of the tactics above are “common” for a grand opening, but nothing we do is “common.” We do it bigger, better and with attitude. Food drops featured complimentary bottles of signature hot sauce for companies to keep. Limbo contests challenged newscasters to see how low could they go—all in the name of raising money for charity. A robo-surfer allowed landlubbers to “hang ten” while grabbing dinner to go.
But the activities did not end when the grand opening flags came down. We developed a 90- day post opening schedule in which we booked a series of benefit night challenges, where we pitted charities against one another to see which group could raise the most money. The winning group received a donation “kicker” of $1,000. By leveraging these community partners, we ensured the brand’s constant exposure with community activists; media and potential customers and the groups did the pitching for us!
During the ops training phase, when the crew was still perfecting its speed of service delivery, all food that was prepared was used for product sampling. Street teams created detailed food drop grids and delivered samples to area businesses, schools and media. The brand hosted a Chef’s Tasting before the grand opening for area media to tease the new concept’s arrival in the market. A weeklong grand opening, complete with media challenge and street theatrics built awareness and trial of the brand.
Since the grand opening date was fluid, we adopted a door hanger initiative for the grand opening. Street teams fanned out through the three-mile trade area and blanketed the area in the days preceding the opening.
A creative “passport to paradise” frequency campaign was created to encourage customers not familiar with the brand’s menu to explore the product variety and to make multiple trips within the first 60 days of the opening to build brand loyalty.
Additionally, we created a series of local promotions with libraries, community groups and other retailers. We even created a series of professional-themed nights to encourage mingling of like people—hairdressers, teachers and other professionals.
We created discount offers for community groups and trotted our restaurant manager out to these community groups to make that personal connection.
The first full week of operations generated sales in excess of $129,000. Yes, $129,000 in one week! The first three months of sales were in excess of $1 million. Average check was nearly $2 greater than core market performance and guests ordered larger meals with greater product variety.
DO IT AGAIN
Creating elements that could be replicated were key to this opening. Yes, the first opening was expensive. But the assets acquired—robo-surfer, mobile billboard, sampling kits, spin and win and other tools of the trade, were reused for subsequent openings. Additionally, all communication, flyers and communication tools were created as “templates” for customization and rollout for subsequent openings.