Build a Community for a Successful Grand Opening

Sunday May 28, 2023

Many of us think we need a huge advertising budget to have a successful grand opening. Yet, this isn’t always the case!

With over 200 grand openings and pre-sales behind me, I discovered that it all comes down to the camaraderie that is built within the club’s staff and member community. If the staff is motivated and excited about the upcoming grand opening, this spills over into member motivation and excitement. This can inspire members to bring along their friends and family, which can further member sales and build that community.

Inevitably, my success with grand openings and pre-sales came after making a few mistakes. A few times, I exhausted a large portion of the advertising budget for a big grand opening party too soon and right after the soft opening. I went all out with the glamor of famous athletes, red carpets, and even Cirque du Soleil shows.

Unfortunately, the flashiness of it all didn’t translate over into an outstanding turnout. The number of people who showed up was moderate, with guests primarily interested in the event itself rather than signing up for the fitness club.

But with great pitfalls come great lessons. As I said above, building a community is key to increasing member engagement and increasing referrals. So, with that in mind, here are my takeaways for successful grand openings and events.

10 Key Tips for Successful Grand Openings

Let’s first lay the groundwork. Here are my top takeaways that I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Plan your Sneak Peek Party two to three weeks before the Grand Opening Party.
  2. Create a digital plan to promote a sponsor of a new member referral program.
  3. Start a countdown to the Grand Opening Party 10 days out to create awareness and excitement (10 more days, 9 more days, 8 more days, etc.) to use on social media and email/website blasts.
  4. Offer Free Guest Days for the first opening month.
  5. Engage the community with grassroots marketing pieces using various vehicles.
  6. Provide digital offers for first-time guests.
  7. Offer founding member specials right up until the Grand Opening, then raise your prices in phases.
  8. Invite corporate partners and local business owners developed through grassroots efforts.
  9. Provide swag to attendees to continue to establish your brand in the market.
  10. Make it fun! Consider a live DJ (DJ can help to co-promote via their own channels), decorations, a photo booth, a prize drawing, samples, demo classes, and fitness challenges!

Planning Your Grand Opening Week & Day

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it all. What should your grand opening week involve?

  1. Corporate VIP Night
  2. Free Personal Training Day
  3. Free Guest Day
  4. Family Day
  5. Grand Opening Day

Grand Opening Day marks the big event!

Start with a ribbon cutting by your local Mayor, and make sure to include:

  • Prizes
  • Food and drink vendors
  • Demos
  • Sample Small Group Training and Group Fitness Classes
  • Sampler of all amenities such as Hydromassage, Pilates, Recovery apps, and more
  • Introduction of Management and local Community leaders
  • Entertainment such as DJs, theater, or a dance event.

What are you missing from your grand opening? What will you use from the above tips and lessons?