About to open a restaurant? Thinking of it? Soft Launch? Not necessary? The answer is yes! Very necessary. One can never understate the importance of a soft launch for your business. In the hospitality industry, a soft launch is KEY to the success of the official launch of the business.
Let's start with the basics.
What is a Soft Launch (also known as a Soft Opening)?
In simple terms, a practice run or dress rehearsal for a new restaurant or business. It is a preview of your restaurant or business to a limited audience. A soft launch is a great way to see how your concept works in the real world.
What is the purpose of a Soft Launch?
A soft launch gives you a chance to PRACTICE. Practice is essential to understanding how to improve your sequence of service and what your customers respond to.
A soft launch helps your staff. Employees benefit from real life training. As an owner, you are able to see what your staff's strengths and weaknesses are. You can then work on these in advance of the official launch of your business.
One of the major benefits of a soft launch is that it allows you to test and tweak your restaurants concept. With a limited menu and a limited audience, a soft launch gives you the flexibility to make major changes based on observations and customer feedback during the soft launch.
What's really cool about a soft launch is that IT IS FREE MARKETING! It allows for people to spread the word about your new restaurant by creating a buzz.
We always recommend that businesses collect data. A soft launch gives your business a jump start. Start building your customer list to use for future marketing campaigns. Go a step further and start your customer loyalty program.
Here's a few tips if you're planning a soft launch:
1. Know your limitations: Have a limited menu. Guests will understand that its not the full menu as the restaurant is not officially open.
2. Limited Seating/Limited Guest List: Keep your guest list limited so that you optimise the customer experience.
3. Be intentional about getting customer feedback: After each service, ask servers to document feedback they received from customers.
4. Shorter Opening Hours: During the soft launch, it is key to have shorter opening hours so you can focus on understanding what needs to be tweaked rather than a focusing on a full day of work.
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