There are a few things to think about when preparing for one. Below is some basic information for how to prepare and what to do to make it a success.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to promote it. The suggestion is 6 to 8 weeks out. This will give you plenty of time to have stuff printed and organized for your event.
2. Scheduling can determine how many people actually show up. Try to schedule your event Monday through Friday and right at the end of the day. That way people can hit it on the way home from work. Also check your local city schedules and the local chamber groups to see if there are any other events scheduled on that day. You don't want to schedule your event in conflict with another event.
3. Happy Hour is always an attractive after work offer. Many people like wine or beer after work and what there is no better way to get people to stay a little longer. Also, it's called "happy" hour for a reason and you want your business to be associated with "happy." There are some exceptions. There are some businesses that would show bad etiquette for serving alcohol, so use your best judgement.
4. Food. Have food, any kind of food. Small bites, sandwiches, a dish or snacks. It doesn't matter. People want to eat with their happy hour.
5. Invite everyone & know who's there. Invite your friends, family, co-workers, competition, all the businesses around you, people you know, people you don't know....invite everyone. This is an event that will be more successful with more participants. Make sure you have a sign in sheet so that you know who attended. After the ribbon cutting you will want to thank everyone for coming.
6. Have giveaways. People want to be entertained. Give them something they can talk about. Give away something you offer. Have other businesses give away stuff so that they also get exposure. Partner with a non-profit and do a 50/50 raffle.
7. Have helpers. Make sure when you are inviting people you have you key spots filled. Who's going to bartend, who's going to handle the 50/50 drawing, who's going to make sure the food in replenished. Your job is to get to know everyone in a one on one environment. Don't waste it by not being available because you have to get more wine.
8. Make your business clear. Make sure you have signage and that people know what the name of your business is. Have samples of what you do or a way of presenting what you do.
9. Take pictures. Have someone take a few pictures. Make notes of who are in the pictures. That way when you send in your press release, you have pictures to accompany it. The articles submitted for publishing with pictures have more of a chance to get published than stories without.
10. Market your event. You can advertise your ribbon cutting in a print ad or on the radio. Also, print invitations and give them to everyone. People will only know to show up if you invite them.