Mel Zimmerman’s company - BES Makes an Opening Grand
They say you have one shot to make a first impression. So when it comes to a grand opening, nothing should be left to chance. The timing. The people. The photos. The details are endless. This is true whether it is a marriage of two professional firms, location expansion or a new business altogether. Having someone to plan, coordinate and execute the event is important; having someone with years of experience, that’s invaluable.
At Business Entitlement Service Mel Zimmerman is just that. After 15 years with the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce, it comes as no surprise that businesses both large and small are searching him out. Zimmerman has been at the helm of eight ribbon cuttings since his Chamber retirement last October, including a law practice, accounting firm, restaurant, retail store and financial institution.
When planning any type of business event, a key to the city may not be necessary. However there are a number of considerations a company should keep in mind starting with a goal.
The “who” in planning an invitation list can seem easy but deciding whom to invite (and who not to) can be difficult. Who are the VIPs? Will city, county and/or state dignitaries be invited? Is it the general public? It’s important to recognize the need for networking and making time for people to meet, talk and make introductions.
“Timing is everything”, says Zimmerman, “Deciding the date and time is much more than looking at a calendar. Are the other possible conflicts? Could weather play a role? Everything can impact attendance.” Other considerations include making a decision about a soft opening to allow a company to get the “kinks out” and if it will be a one-time gathering or a two-day affair. “Often times clients find it of value to the latter ~ a dedicated VIP reception with a larger more casual gathering for a broader audience.”
These answers determine the invitation and RSVP requirements. A lavish event dictates a more formal invitation; mass-market programs involve grass roots efforts, social media and word of mouth to create the buzz. Attracting print and on-air media will further the reach so press releases and alerts should be timed effectively.
Even with a professional on hand, internal staff support is needed. “In meeting with clients, I encourage there be an in house team each with clearly defined roles,” Zimmerman suggests. “By assigning responsibilities associates feel a part of the process and take pride in the event’s success.”
Internal points of contact are extremely helpful when it comes to the office or facility set up. This could be as simple as housekeeping, following up on the invitees and printing nametags. They also act as key contacts for caterers, valets and other service professionals. “It may sound silly but small touches really make a difference,” says Zimmerman. “Balloons are a great way to draw in guests. Directional signage guide invitees to the event location, parking and the like.”
Zimmerman also likes to make the day even more memorable officially. “It should go down on record as ‘their’ day,” he says. As part of the event, BES secures proclamations from the county, state and even Washington D.C. at times.
The preeminent part to opening ceremonies is the actual ribbon cutting. What seems like simple task is actually quite strategic. In planning the questions build – “who” will be in the picture, “where” will they stand and “who” will ultimately cut the ribbon. “I always insist on having several photos taken including before the actual cutting, during and after. If kids are present, their youthful smiles are nice to include within the ceremonial shot.”
While a bit less formal, there should always be a staff picture. Says Zimmerman explains, “Since a business is only as good as its people, this is a moment to capture and keep.” The right photographer is critical - one experienced in working with groups, making the most of available space and lighting, reliable and time efficient. After the event, the photos, piece of ribbon and proclamations may be prominently displayed as a reminder of the day.
Why is Zimmerman so free with his tips for event planning? He knows that one of the biggest mistakes a company makes is to take a “do-it-yourself” approach to such an important occasion. Choosing the right way to introduce a business can come in all shapes and sizes – from lavish parties to meet and greets to restaurant tastings. It’s a lot of hard work but the planning is worth it. Just look at the smiles. They tell the story.
Article Provided By Glori Gayster
Pictured: Gambino’s Italian Eatery & Pizzeria, Cherry Hill Ribbon Cutting