OSHKOSH, Wis. — Bring on the publicity for your new laundry by hosting a stellar grand opening event. Show people and businesses, first hand, how your store and services benefit them. The idea is to capture and retain customers for every service your laundry delivers.

The key to a successful grand opening? Plan it in advance and utilize proven advertising and marketing tactics to capture new customers and keep them coming back. Check out the following timeline of tips:

6 MONTHS BEFORE

Website — Work with a qualified web developer to launch your laundry’s website. Include content on equipment, services, specials, contact information, news and more. Use it as an ever-changing marketing platform that brings your business credibility and shows customers you’re engaged with the community.

Social Media — Develop your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts and use them to build hype before, during and after the grand opening.

3 MONTHS BEFORE

Solidify the Plan — Establish your budget and nail down your invitation list, food, entertainment, giveaways, activities, and timeframe.

Invite City Officials, Key Businesses and Local Press — This will increase your chance for free media coverage. Contact your mayor, companies with whom you’d like to do business, and community reporters. Invite them to attend the event and experience your laundry and its services.

Plan for Food and Entertainment — People love free food. Have it on hand with music and activities. Ideas? Ask local librarians to read children’s books; set up face-painting areas; organize bag toss competitions. Consider hiring a local radio station to broadcast live from the parking lot of your laundry.

Determine Ways to Motivate Their Visit — You may need to implement several incentives to lure customers to the grand opening. A free raffle with giveaways is ideal. To participate, guests must register with their name and contact info. That way, you can utilize their contact information for future emails and mailers — keeping them engaged long after the grand opening is over. Popular giveaways include laundry bags with your logo, children’s bikes, TVs, gift cards and iPads. Oftentimes, laundries also offer discounted laundry services. This entices them to come back!

2 MONTHS BEFORE

Interior and Exterior Signage — Work with a graphic designer to design both interior and exterior signage for the store. This includes any instructional signs for equipment that will be helpful to your customers, as well as eye-catching window graphics that will make your laundry get noticed. Keep in mind it takes time to design, produce and ship the signage. Then you’ve got to install it.

Hire and Train Staff — Get staff familiar with equipment, duties and expectations in the weeks leading up to the grand opening. The day of the grand opening, ask them to educate and assist customers on equipment operation, services and alternative payment systems.

Hang a Banner — Order a giant vinyl banner announcing the grand opening, making clear the public is invited to attend. Hang it outside the front of your store for a month or two preceding the grand opening.

1 MONTH BEFORE

Write and Send a Press Release — Announce the grand opening by writing a press release and distributing it to media outlets in your community. Don’t forget to include a picture of the exterior of your laundry, information on equipment and services, and hours of operation as well as giveaways and attractions during the grand opening.

Mailers and Door Hangers — Be sure to start communicating your event as well as planned incentives and specials via direct mailers and door hangers to your surrounding area and potential customers.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE

Tie Up Loose Ends — Reconfirm with caterers, city officials, reporters, helpers and entertainment. Be sure everything is in line and ready to roll.

GRAND OPENING DAY

Celebrate! — Enjoy a well-planned, successful event that attracts and educates customers — enticing them to return again and again. Then, pat yourself on the back for a job nicely done and reap the rewards for years to come!