If you’re new here, I need to tell you a little bit about my business before we jump into this. I have a typical massage practice. No big whoop.
I also run a wellness center (which I manage as an entirely separate business from my massage practice). I rent space to 7 other practitioners (massage and acupuncture) and 4 yoga instructors. We share a total of 4 treatment rooms, a waiting area and 2 bathrooms.
Everyone handles the logistic of their own business, website, payments, scheduling, etc. and I make sure the place is clean and organized and the right people are using the right spaces on the right days.
While I am not responsible for marketing anyone else’s business, I keep a central website that lists each renter’s business information and I manage social media to promote all of our businesses and services. Their success translates to my success (more rent money!) so it benefits me to host an event on occasion.
Hence, our Annual Fall Open House
I recently hosted our second open house and I think I nailed it. Really. I say that not to be arrogant, but because I’ve been working really hard to be extra organized, plan larger projects thoroughly and execute those plans in a way that allows all the people in my office to help me. And I did it!
In the past, I’ve taken on these kinds of projects, but haven’t planned very well. So even though my officemates would offer to help (they are saints, people. SAINTS) I would be such a mess that I never knew what kind of help I needed. Until roughly 9pm the evening before an event. Then I would realize my error and end up doing it all myself, in a half-assed last-minute kinda way. Ugh. Seriously, Allissa. Pull it together.
I vowed this year would be different, and it was. Here’s how I planned*
I created a google doc to store all my ideas and thoughts and rough drafts for emails in one place.
I set a date and checked in with all my people a few months ahead of time. I knew it would be the Sunday after Labor Day weekend, so I let everyone know in June that the open house was happening on September 10, and requested everyone make note of that.
In the middle of July, eight weeks prior to the event, I sent an email to everyone in the office.
I am planning an open house event here for Sunday September 10. I’m in the super early stages of planning, but I’m thinking similar to last year.
A few short yoga classes, 1-2 from each instructor in their speciality, throughout the morning
Massage, acupuncture, reflexology, etc either outside under tents or in the office side, or both.
It was a pretty successful event last year, and got us a lot of drive-by visibility. And I’ll do a ton of pre-event promotion. I would like to have the local food pantry be the beneficiaries of donations for classes & mini-treatments.
I’m thinking 9am-12pm ish.
So, if you are interested in participating, please let me know & mark your calendars. Let me know if you have any time constraints/scheduling issues as well so I can plan accordingly and keep the right people in the loop.
I made note in my Google Doc when people responded about their attendance, schedule and any ideas. I may have had to nudge one or two people the next week to get a reply. No biggie. That’s just how it is when you have a team of 12 people and you are sending emails in the height of vacation season.
I sent an email to our favorite local farm stand guy and invited him to sell his produce at the event. I like bringing in another local business for a few reasons. Farmer Sam is just pretty cool, and I’m working hard to build a local network of small business owners who are not just old dudes selling insurance and real estate. Also, the mission of his farm is similar to that our our wellness center: serving the community, empowering people to be healthy, etc. And Sam has a kicking email list and social media that he uses, so a little cross-promotion goes a long way. Win-win-win.
As the responses came in, I crafted a cohesive list of ideas, a rough schedule, and a list of who was coming, what they were doing, and what they would need to do their thing.
I used Google Drawing to map out exactly where tents and tables would go, and I placed that diagram at the top of a the Google Doc to be shared with everyone participating in the event. Here’s what that looked like.
When that was complete, I emailed my people again, to show them the plan and also ask for help with certain parts of prep. This was about 2 weeks before the event.
I have plans laid out here.
Please look at the plan and just check my work, make sure I’m not missing anything major that you need me to supply.
I created a Facebook event here (I included the link) and I’ll also be sharing info in the weekly email to the list, and also to my massage practice list. Please share in all your venues as well.
Everyone was super clear on what I was providing, what they need to bring, and what their area would look like. And I was clear on what I needed to handle.
One week before the event I sent a final email
Open house plans are moving along well! You can see the details here (link to google doc)
Here is the prep & recovery schedule and I’ve made note of when I could use some extra hands
Friday afternoon I have help getting the place cleaned thoroughly (thanks Massage 1!)
Saturday around 2pm I’ll be getting tents set up, and all the tables and other gear prepped in the yoga space so it can be quickly moved & set up Sunday morning.
Acupuncture 3 is planning to help, we could use 1 more person.
Sunday morning I’ll be here around 8:30, it would be ideal to have a few people here by 9am, and everyone who needs to set up their own space no later than 9:30am.
Sunday afternoon, 1pm – I’ll need some people to stick around
1. get the massage/acupuncture side back together by 1:30 so the practitioners can see their afternoon clients
2. take down tents, tables, etc
3. do a quick floor cleaning in yoga space
If you are able to help out, please let me know when you can be here for extra support. Thanks!
I was very clear about what preparation needed to happen and when, and my people really stepped up. As people replied I added more notes about who could help me when, etc.
Having one document with all the information and the schedule was crucial here. Everyone was looking at the same information and it was super easy to keep referring to and updating the document whenever questions and ideas came up, and whenever someone asked “How can I help?” I had real answers. It was great.
The whole event went well. We were so well organized that when one of our practitioners had to stay home with a sick dog we seamlessly shifted the set up and everyone was cool. My team showed up to help me clean, set up and take down like a beautifully orchestrated ballet.
A few extra cool things happened, too. The day before and morning of the event, I walked a few of my people though my plans. I showed them how I had staged each tent’s components in the yoga space, so it could be easily brought out and set up in the morning. I told them where all the equipment should go after take down. I made sure to tell each of them the ‘random’ bits of info like “the table cloths should be taped down, it may be windy” and exactly where the general office supplies would be, “In this green bag under the Greeting table”.
It was SO NICE to not be the only person who knew stuff. I printed out a copy of the google doc and ket it out during set up so it was easy to refer to when questions came up.
Let it be known: My team had whole event taken down, the office cleaned, and themselves getting into their cars to go home 30 minutes after the event ended. It was a thing of beauty and I almost cried. For reals.
All of the practitioners were busy with client the whole 3 hours. We had lots of new people come by and lots of current clients who came just to meet other practitioners or try a different yoga class.
We gave out a bunch of brochures and raised a few hundred bucks for the local Food Pantry.
To promote the event, I kept it simple. I create a Facebook event and also announced the event about 3 weeks ahead of time in the weekly email to our full wellness center list.
I asked all of the practitioners to promote in their social media and emails as well.
I spent about $25 on Facebook and Instagram ads in the week prior to the event. And I posted lots of pictures of set up and preparation in the 2 days leading up to the event.
During the event I posted to Instagram and Facebook, and afterwards I posted a big Thank You for helping us raise money for the food bank.
Some things I would change
I failed at promotional signage. I intended to make a big “Open House and Farm Stand Sunday 10am-1pm” sign and put it on the office lawn for the week prior to the event. I procrastinated, then it rained for a few days, then I just didn’t do it. Oops. I’ve already made a note to delegate that out to someone for next year.
I didn’t remind all my renters and give specific instructions and wording on how to promote the event. And I didn’t remind the farm stand guy, either. I think if I had nudged a bit, we could have had better promotion. That said, we had plenty of people come. So that’s cool.
I didn’t encourage my renters to practice their elevator speeches or remind them to check out the bios of all the other renters so it would be easy to refer to eat other and talk to people more about the overall center and all the stuff we offer. With 12 of us coming and going on varying days, I’m the only person who knows everyone. I would like to change that before next year.
And that’s how I ran my Second Annual Open House. Questions? Thoughts? Share in the comments.
*This is not all exactly how I did it. I have changed some wording of my emails and a few little details in order to make a more orderly template for you (and protect the privacy of my renters).