For B2B businesses, there’s seldom an official ‘launch day’. B2C is different. If you have a restaurant, retail store or even a franchise, there is a day where you officially open your doors to the public for the first time.
So, how big a deal should launch day be?
I think the launch is often neglected because by the time most entrepreneurs get to this point, they’re so tired from the stresses of making sure that the business opens on schedule, that launch day is almost a non-event.
If you’ve ever built a house, you know that dealing with contractors is difficult at the best of times. You also know that for whatever reason, no one accurately estimates how long things will take; they always give you a date and they always miss that date. So by the time the launch day arrives you’re like a bride at a wedding… too tired to smile on a day that should be one of the best of your life.
Launch days are important for a number of reasons. They give you the opportunity to invite close family and friends to test your product or service. There will always be glitches, but it’s better to find these before you start serving paying customers.
I would suggest that you serve a few paying customers on launch day as well – that way you can test the entire value chain and map the whole experience that a customer has with your business.
You also want to invite media, celebrities and bloggers to your event. A buzz around your business, product or service goes a very long way. And finally, launch day is a great way to say thank you to all the people who have helped you get to that point.
Being an IT geek, I launched my first restaurant on 12/12/12. I thought it would be a good binary omen. To tell the world that we had arrived, at the last minute I sourced four snow machines.
We made it snow in the middle of December while our guests ate potjies and dumplings. It was just too cool for words. It was ‘snowing’ in the middle of an African summer. We got a lot of media exposure. But there were also teething problems. The power kept tripping due to the load pull from the snow machines.
Remember this: A launch day isn’t a proper launch day without something going wrong. Power and the weather tend to be the most common, but there are a host of ways that things can go wrong. Depending on the scale of the launch, make sure you have a generator or some cover if it’s outdoors.
Related: 5 Different Types Of Businesses
Next, use your launch day as an intel-gathering mission. Yes, you’re introducing people and hopefully the media to your brand. Yes, you’re saying so many needed and deserved thank yous. Yes, you’re testing that everything runs smoothly. But you also have your first opportunity for real customer feedback — use it! Have questionnaires on hand to evaluate your customers’ experiences.
When you ask people one on one, they will not tell you the whole truth, especially friends and family — they know how hard you’ve worked, and they certainly don’t want to hurt your feelings. But an anonymous questionnaire is something entirely different. You’re far more likely to get the truth. You want the truth. You can’t fix it if you don’t know about it.
- Your guest list should include family, friends, journalists and celebrities.
- Have a wow moment, like snow.
- Thank everyone who has got you to this point.
- Make sure you test all aspects of your business on the day.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Evaluate and fix all that did not go according to plan.