If you think about the opening of a new business, you wouldn’t be alone if your head is suddenly filled with images of helium balloons, celebrity guests and a popping champagne bottle.
We have lift off – the benefits of a comprehensive launch plan
As a premises-based franchise, Code Ninjas understands the importance of a detailed and well-managed business launch. With 188 Code Ninjas centres open worldwide, they’ve had considerable experience in introducing their kids coding programme to families across the US and Canada. The UK is no different, as they launch in Pinner & Harrow in the coming weeks. David Graham, CEO and Co-Founder, explains why initiating a comprehensive launch plan is crucial for the success of any franchise.
If you think about the opening of a new business, you wouldn’t be alone if your head is suddenly filled with images of helium balloons, celebrity guests and a popping champagne bottle. But as with most things related to business, this day is just one small part of a much wider and comprehensive launch plan. Take my word for it, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. And, if you want your business to stand out from the crowd, it’s imperative that you’re equipped with the launch package know-how.
I’ve been a part of launching more than enough Code Ninjas centres to understand what makes for a successful and seamless launch. Now, it’s important for me to acknowledge the fact that our tried-and-tested plan isn’t a one size fits all. This process is almost exclusively relevant for premises-based franchises.
First and foremost, preparation is key. At Code Ninjas, we support our new franchisees by providing a straightforward marketing plan that outlines activity 14 weeks prior to grand opening day – or ‘hard launch’, as it is sometimes referred. That’s three and a half months of consistent and methodical tasks that will raise the profile of a franchisee’s business, and get the community talking.
One of the most notable components of this marketing plan is the ‘soft launch’ of the business, which takes place a full four weeks before hard launch. This initial open-day often gets overlooked, as entrepreneurs find themselves preoccupied with the razzle dazzle of a grand opening. I can’t emphasise enough that a soft launch and hard launch are not mutually exclusive – they are two parts of the same process.
For Code Ninjas franchisees, a soft launch is a time for franchisees to show off their new centre to a select group of family, friends and local VIPs working in the tech industry. At this point, the centre isn’t open to the general public, so our franchisees invite a cross section of potential students to test the programme before anyone else in their area. This encourages quality and informed feedback from a relevant focus group. Franchisees also dummy-run all of the tasks involved in running a centre – taking prospective customers for a tour around the location, interacting with students and making sure all operations run smoothly. It’s a franchisee’s opportunity to iron out any minor niggles before the big day.
At soft launch stage – which can last from one to two weeks – parents can also sign their children up as a ‘presale’ student. Our franchisees find this extremely beneficial in the weeks running up to grand opening –it’s a great indication of potential interest once the doors are officially open. For example, we recently launched our first franchise in Canada. The franchisee successfully broke the existing Code Ninjas record for pre-enrolments, with 100 students signing up prior to grand opening.
Promising presale numbers make for an exciting and impressive grand opening – the second half of the launch process. Now, as the name suggests, spare no expense (within reason!) once grand opening day arrives and roll out the red carpet for your guests. It’s a given that all presale students should be welcomed to come along on the day, along with their families, but this is the time to set up the all-important ribbon-cutting photo opportunity. Invite the likes of the Mayor and local celebrities to celebrate with you – and contact the press with news of the opening. Provide refreshments, entertainment and go mad with the branded balloons. This is your opportunity to make an impact. Now’s the time to give the community something to remember.