One of the biggest differences between successful and stagnant restaurants lies in their ability to attract and retain new customers. And with little movement in traffic growth over recent years, some restaurateurs find themselves facing new challenges in attracting guests.
However, innovative restaurant brands worked hard to develop a strategic approach to new market development, helping new franchise partners open their doors to fans clamoring to get inside. For example, even in new markets we’re able to consistently generate early buzz while attracting – and retaining – lifelong CAPaddicts and brand newcomers alike.
But, how do you keep things interesting with a 40-year-old brand like Capriotti’s? The answer is in our grand opening process, which we have modified throughout the years to keep things fresh and aligned with changing consumer preferences.
Here are a few ways we’re able to generate excitement surrounding our grand openings, and how this pays off for our franchise partners:
No Second Chances for a First Impression
The main purpose of a grand opening is attracting and retaining regional consumers, so generating enough publicity and attention is paramount for a successful event.
There needs to be a tangible value proposition driving customers to attend a grand opening, besides just the promise of a solid party. By offering incentives – from Buy 1 Get 1 offers to free sandwiches for a year for the first attendees – franchise partners not only able to garner substantial regional publicity and attention, we also see an impressive turnout from locals.
In fact, it’s not at all rare for franchise partners to have 100+ eager fans lining up around the block to be at a new Capriotti’s location the very second it opens.
“During our grand opening, we opened the doors at promptly 10:00 a.m., and there were 160 people in line, which was phenomenal,” said Bill Byrd, a Capriotti’s franchise partner in Atlanta. “We got through the entire line – it took us an hour and 40 minutes to get to the last person. And, the guests walked out of the restaurant absolutely ecstatic about the food – we definitely converted a lot of grand opening attendees into regulars at our restaurant.”
Making a Grand Entrance
Aside from promotions that draw in big crowds, we also use a multi-channel approach to generate attention for the event. Typically, we manifest these efforts in leveraging traditional media and direct marketing campaigns, in addition to our digital and social media marketing efforts.
From radio to direct mail and B2B marketing campaigns to local PR outreach, we help franchise owners efficiently spread the word about their grand openings. In recent years, we’ve been able to coordinate events with local social media influencers and food bloggers to attend exclusive pre- and post-opening events during which they taste the food, take photos and post their feedback on sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – which helps their equally food-crazed followers see how obsessively delicious our sandwiches are.
Once guests are there, we just let the food do all the work – and turn new guests into lifelong fans.
“For our grand opening, we actually had a young man who showed up at 11:30 p.m. the night before a 10 a.m. grand opening the next day,” said Penne Finkley, who runs a Capriotti’s location with partner Jeff Kaczmarcyk. “And then when it was time for the actual grand opening, we had a line that went around the shopping center and down the street – it was really cool. All the hard work you put into your store opening – seeing all the people who show up makes it all worth it.”
But, Capriotti’s grand opening support doesn’t begin and end with marketing your event to the right people. During our nine-month grand opening prep, we regularly check in with all our franchise partners to make sure things are progressing smoothly. Our mid-campaign check ins allow us to regularly touch base with franchise partners and continually offer ongoing guidance and support to get their location up and running seamlessly.
From our grand opening assistance to the ongoing support and guidance we offer franchise partners once they’re in business, we are always looking for ways to make restaurant ownership a simplified and successful endeavor for each of our franchisees.