Any restaurateur will tell you how important a successful new store opening is. But, it’s easy to put new store opening event planning on the back burner when you’re focused on getting a restaurant up and running – especially if you’re on a strict timeline.
Fortunately, Smoothie King offers new store opening support for our franchisees. This lets them focus on launching their businesses, while still executing a memorable new store opening. Joey Schulz, Smoothie King director of field marketing, explains what goes into a Smoothie King new store opening:
60 – 90 Days before New Store Opening
“When we prep the franchisees for their new store openings, it starts pretty early. You want to start working on it at least 90 days in advance,” Joey said. “Our advice depends on the location, so you can’t really get started until you know exactly where your location will be.”
For example, if a franchisee opens a downtown Smoothie King in a new market, Joey and his team of field marketing managers employ different tactics than they would in a retail area where most people know the brand.
“In the areas where there’s less brand awareness, you want to focus a lot more on education – teaching people what Smoothies With A Purpose® is all about,” Joey said. “In the more densely populated markets, it’s more about location awareness. People already know what Smoothie King is, they just need to know there’s a new, convenient location opening.”
During the three months prior to opening, the marketing team also does a trade area analysis, identifying competition within the market. The team then helps franchisees set up social media pages for their local markets, along with user-friendly tools to organize and monitor their social media analytics. Owners are also given promotional materials, public relations training and press releases, as well as a new store opening kit with marketing resources.
30 Days before New Store Opening
The Smoothie King marketing team assists in the initial phase of new store opening planning. One month before the event, however, the franchisee becomes more involved.
“Our job is to help franchisees get the most out of their marketing and new store opening budgets, and assist with certain responsibilities so the owner can focus on other things,” Joey said. “Thirty days before the opening, though, it’s really important that the owner get out into the community, start passing out samples and let people know a new location is coming.”
At the one-month mark, franchisees can start using the marketing materials from the new store opening kit and posting more frequently on social media. It’s also a good time to put “coming soon” and “now hiring” banners on the building.
VIP Party and New Store Opening Day
“Everyone wants to know the latest and greatest marketing tactic for new store openings,” Joey said. “And we have come up with some strong methods over the years. But it’s still amazing what a simple yard sign with a few balloons will do for awareness on opening day.”
Joey and his team are there every step of the way before a franchisee’s new store opening, helping to guide them through the process and show them best practices.
“It’s really up to the owners when they want to do their new store opening events,” Joey said. “We recommend doing it about three to four weeks after a soft opening. That way, owners are confident and their team members are prepared to provide guests with a good experience that keeps them coming back.”
Joey also recommends throwing a VIP party a few weeks prior to the new store opening event.
“It’s really kind of a stress test,” Joey said. “You can invite all your friends and family to come, and it’s a more controlled environment, but the event itself will mimic the new store opening. It’s a good trial run, and it shows appreciation for family, vendors and team members.”
Smoothie King works hard to help position our franchisees for successful launches. In fact, it’s so important to us that we’re hiring a new store marketing manager who will focus specifically on openings. This position will work with Joey and his team to help Smoothie King owners start strong.