You’ve spent months preparing to open your own practice, and it’s finally time! Your doors are open for business and your staff is ready to treat patients, but does your community even know your practice is open? Working with fellow business owners and residents to put together a grand opening event is a wonderful way to network with your neighbors (and potential customers) with the end result being a fun community event that exposes the public to your staff and your clinic. Here’s how to throw a grand opening event for your new practice in four steps:
First Step: Pick a Date
Allow yourself at least eight weeks to work out the logistics and market to your potential guests. The date you choose to host your event depends entirely on the targeted demographic you want to attend. If your practice is focused on sports training, you may want to host a day event on the weekend so high school athletes, their families, and their coaches can attend. If you specialize in workers’ compensation cases, it might be a better bet to host a lunchtime event during the week and invite local human resources directors and small business owners.
Second Step: Plan a Great Party
You’ve chosen a date and a main demographic to attend. Now, how do you get people to take time out of their everyday lives to come to your event? Well, you throw an amazing party! Channel your inner Martha Stewart/P-Diddy and host a party you would want to attend. Now, I’m not saying you need homemade centerpieces à la Martha or the parade of celebrities that P-Diddy/Puff Daddy/Sean Combs can elicit, but nice decor and a fun vibe goes a long way.
Before you can do anything, though, you’ll need to ask your landlord’s permission and do some research to make sure you get any city permits necessary to host an event at your location. The last thing you need is a city official stopping by and shutting down your event. It’s also common courtesy to let your business neighbors know about the event. Even better, invite them and ask whether they’d be able to donate items for you to raffle off as door prizes. That way, you can give them a shoutout at your event, and who knows—you may end up sharing customers because you’re located in the same general area. Once you know what space is available for you to use, make it festive from the parking lot to the punch table. Balloons and fresh flowers are an easy and affordable way to brighten the inside of your practice.
When it comes to entertainment for the event, you have several options. Here are some ideas:
- Hire a clown to paint faces or create balloon animals for kids
- Offer free physicals for attendees
- Host a basketball skills challenge course
- Offer free pain or injury assessments
- Invite a local radio station to broadcast onsite
- Have a DJ throughout the event
- Perform a ribbon-cutting with the Chamber of Commerce and any other VIPs
- Ask local athletes and cheerleaders to sign autographs for kids
- Host tours of your shiny, new facility
- Have a push-up contest
By having door prize drawings throughout the day, you’ll be able to capture attendees’ contact information for future marketing efforts. Prizes can include baskets made with donations from local businesses or other small items. Try to have one large item—such as an iPad Mini or a FitBit—to encourage more participation.
Offering free lunch or refreshments will go a long way at your event. Work with any neighboring restaurants to see if they will sponsor the food for free or at a discount in exchange for displaying their logo and signage at the event and in your promotions. A trip to Costco can cover any additional food, water bottles, utensils, and paperware.
Third Step: Market and Promote Your Event
You and your staff have put together the event of the year. Now, you need to get people there. Here are a few suggestions to guide your marketing efforts:
- Create an invite postcard to send and hand out to anyone you’d like to invite. Don’t have a graphic designer on hand? No worries. You can make them using canva.com and a local printer. Be sure to include an email for people to RSVP for your event so you can plan food and beverages accordingly.
- Work with your staff to create an invite list. This should include:
- current and past patients
- local VIPs (the mayor and other leaders)
- your and your staffs’ family and friends
- local high school coaches
- senior centers
- recreation centers and gyms
- running stores and clubs
- physicians’ groups
- nearby housing developments
- neighboring businesses.
You can mail out the invites or hand-deliver them about three weeks before the event. If mail isn’t for you (or your budget), create an email invite and send it to everyone listed above. It doesn’t hurt to do both, if you can.
- Promote it on your social media feeds, in your newsletter, and on your website.
- Write a press release and send it to local newspapers.
- If sandwich boards are allowed, have a sign made advertising the date of the grand opening event and hang it a few weeks in advance so everyone that drives by can see it.
Fourth Step: Enjoy It!
This is an exciting time for you and your staff. Enjoy the event. It’s a perfect opportunity to get to know new people in your neighborhood. Who knows what contacts you’ll make and what will come of the conversations!
If you have more questions about the logistics of hosting a grand opening, or if you’ve hosted an epic one and have additional tips, please leave a comment below.