How to have a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
There is no better way to kick off the Grand Opening of a business than to have an official ribbon cutting ceremony. I say “official” because I’ve been to some that were DIY ribbon cuttings, and it’s just not the same as having the Chamber of Commerce do the real thing for you.
Some businesses join the Chamber of Commerce just to have a ribbon cutting and that’s alright with us. Of course, you’ll get much more out of your Chamber membership if you attend mixers, make a nice profile for your business in our Chamber Directory, and make an effort to get to know fellow Chamber members by joining a Business ConneXions group. You could also apply to go through Leadership Mountain View, but if all you want to do is have a ribbon cutting ceremony, we can do that for you.
Here are some tips to make your ribbon cutting the most talked about event in town:
Invite people that know you and support your business. Yes, the Chamber will invite lots of people, but it’s even better when your friends and family are there too. The Total Wine and More ribbon cutting had hundreds of people in attendance because they invited some private wine clubs; they didn’t leave it all up to the Chamber to figure out who the wine drinkers are in our community. Invite the neighboring businesses, some of your vendors, and people that you would like to do business with in the future.
Have plenty of food and drinks at your ribbon cutting. People expect it, and feel much more welcome and stay longer at events when they have a little something nice to eat. Have wine, coffee, sparkling water, mimosas, beer, whatever your particular crowd likes. Make it easy and comfortable for your guests to wander around. Villa Siena Senior Retirement Community had those plates that hold a wine glass and everyone commented on how convenient they were.
Set up tables for people to gather at; you don’t necessarily have to offer everyone a chair, but table space is a must.
If you want people to notice something specific about your business, point it out to them. Take them into the wine cellar, show them what’s so special about your business. This is your chance to show it off, so make an effort to highlight what’s unique about your organization. If you have a dance studio, have some of your students there to demonstrate what they have learned from you. If you print stamps and help businesses mail things all over the world, show people your stamp on a potato and tell the story. Direct everyone’s attention towards whatever it is that makes your business special. Believe me, this is what’s so exciting about ribbon cuttings and this is what people go home and tell their friends about.
Carefully plan where the ribbon will actually be cut. Sometimes, the whole crowd is outside in front of the business and we literally bring traffic to a stop. That’s the goal in my opinion. All those cars, creeping by, trying to figure out what’s going on, it’s great. That’s what happened when we did the ribbon cutting at Eureka Restaurant on Castro. Gridlock! You know that they definitely remember it and they’ll check out your business next time they have the chance.
Keep in mind that the Chamber will bring elected officials and some of our board of directors, so make an effort to get to know them. Ask someone from your business to post photos to your Facebook business page. Tag the Chamber in your photos. The Chamber will be doing the same thing and more people will connect with your page when they see that you’re active in the community. Take advantage of the opportunity to drive traffic online (on social media), not just getting people in the front door of your company for the event. Even if you have to hire someone to stay for the 2 hour event and take photos and post them to your page, it is well worth the effort. If there aren’t pictures of it on social media, it didn’t happen.
Decorate for the event. Go to the Chamber directory to find a florist who can make table arrangements. You can raffle off the arrangements at the end of the event.
Do you have anything you can give to your guests as they are leaving? A drawing for gift cards, samples of your product, anything that will help them remember you when they get home would be perfect. If you want to have some kind of small promotional item made with your logo on it, you can find someone to do it for you on the Chamber directory.
Do you need entertainment or live music? Total Wine and More had a good-looking sword expert who chopped the top of a bottle of champagne off. Talk about getting everyone’s attention! They also had live music and a talented cheese-carver who created Google, LinkedIn and Intuit’s logos out of cheddar.
Even if you have an iPad playing in the corner, it’s better than nothing. Just be sure that people can talk over the music, and have someone turn it down during the announcements. One personal training gym had a Hawaiian themed ribbon cutting and they had hula dancers. The crowd loved it.
The Chamber will take care of name tags, registration, helping you set the date and time for your ribbon cutting. Katrina, the Events Coordinator at the Chamber, will help you decide who will speak at your ribbon cutting (in addition to the mayor!), and who will hold the giant scissors and cut the ribbon. No two ribbon cuttings are the same, and we can guarantee that your business will be seen by lots of new people. By following these tips, your organization will be putting their best foot forward and your event will be a major success. Remember, this is your chance to show off and tell the world that you have something special, so take advantage of it. Contact Dawn Maher (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule your ribbon cutting or to join the Chamber.