If your business is like most, a significant amount of time and money has been poured into making your office appealing to employees, customers, and visitors.
Maybe you’ve hired an interior designer, invested in new lighting or furniture, or added cool features like an office coffee bar or even an amazing water feature in the lobby.
Why not leverage that energy and investment to attract even more leads and positive attention for your company? Open up your facility or office to the public and show off your hard work in an open house.
Open houses give potential clients, partners, and even prospective hires an opportunity to learn more about your business in a fun and relaxed setting.
With the right planning and tools, open houses can be a great marketing strategy for a wide variety of organizations.
The Unique Benefits of Open Houses
When it comes to impressing visitors, open houses have a few big advantages over more formal office visits or unannounced drop-ins.
First of all, open houses are often casual enough to feel inviting to people who are on the fence about getting more information on your organization.
Those in the early stages of choosing whether to work with your company might not be ready to arrange a personal tour or interview yet. Maybe they’re too busy to get something official on the calendar, or maybe they just don’t want to waste anyone’s time until they’re further along in their decision-making process.
However, if they have the option of showing up to an open house, they won’t have to overthink things or schedule with anyone. They can just plan to show up if it works with their schedule, and then simply join in with the rest of the group. Plus, if the open house has a lively atmosphere, it might make an even better impression than coming in for a one-on-one tour.
Speaking of making better impressions, open houses also give your staff a chance to have a little more control over what visitors see compared to when they stop by unannounced. If your organization is like most, it hosts visitors throughout the week, and not all of them call ahead. It’s pretty tough to put your very best foot forward 24/7, but you can certainly do it when an open house is planned in advance.
Types of Businesses That Can Benefit From Open Houses
Most of us have been to a real estate open house, where the goal is to view a space at your own pace and on your own timing.
But many other professionals and industries can benefit from them too, including the following:
Schools and educational facilities – Schools for any age group tend to require a big commitment of time, energy and sometimes money. Hence, the selection process can go slowly. People like to do plenty of research before they decide. Open houses allow people to see the best of your education facilities informally before they proceed with the rest of their enrollment process. Related post: 5 Online Tools to Improve Office Administration at Your School
Professional offices or firms – Instead of a traditional open house, professional firms can consider hosting open-house-style events such as community discussions over coffee in the morning, or a networking happy hour after office hours end. This kind of event can work especially well if you’ve invested in designing common areas that were built with the intention of encouraging groups to socialize. Related post: For a Fun, Playful Office, Add These Elements
Retirement communities or rehab centers – The people who are considering a retirement home or nursing facility for a family member also have a relatively long decision-making process ahead of them, and they may visit several times before they feel comfortable making a commitment. An open house is a great way to ease them in and make them feel welcome. Related post: The Best Visitor Management Practices for Retirement Homes
Manufacturing or research facilities – These types of facilities tend to have higher security needs that make it more complicated to provide open access for the general public. However, if an open house is well-orchestrated and planned well in advance, it can be a good way to show your community a little more about what you do. Spreading awareness about what your facility does can be good for public relations. You could also host open-house-style industry-specific events to help fill your hiring pipeline. Related post: 4 Strategies for Recruiting Top Tech Talent
What You Need to Get the Most Out of Your Open House
Of course, if you do decide to host an open house, your staff will have to put the necessary time and energy into planning it properly.
Failing to have the right tools and features in place on the day of the event could lead to the entire effort being a waste of time — or, even worse, it could do serious damage to your brand.
Choose someone you trust, and preferably someone with other event planning experience, to take the lead on the project. Their efforts should include the following.
A Promotional Plan
Most people need to be reminded of an event several times before they take action, and they appreciate knowing about events well in advance so they can plan properly.
Start announcing your open house at least a month ahead of time, and make a schedule for how you’ll promote the event (i.e. make plans for when and how you will share posts on social media, send emails to your list of subscribers, put up signs in your office, or even post local ads).
A Plan for Events and Activities
Of course, hosting an open house entails more than simply opening your doors. You’ll want to provide drinks and refreshments, and perhaps set up special signage or decorations. You may need to schedule staffers or volunteers to give tours or presentations. And depending on your organization, you may also consider promoting other perks, such as a giveaway or special activity. (Make sure to mention these in your promotional messages.)
A Plan to Follow Up With Visitors
To get the maximum benefit from your open house, you need to have a solid plan in place for keeping track of who attends so you can follow up with them later. (Keeping track of who is on site at any given time is also a good idea for security and safety reasons.)
This task gets a lot easier when you use visitor management software like The Receptionist. With The Receptionist, your staff can design custom check-in flows for any visit type — including a special event like an open house. Your guests sign in via touch screen on a tablet, and all of their data is automatically timestamped and will be easily accessible when you need it later. It can also print nametags seamlessly as part of the check-in process.
A Plan to Track Success
Open houses may not typically require as much cash as other marketing options, but the time and energy they require can add up, especially if you hire professionals or host large numbers of guests.
You should have a plan that ensures you get a good return on your investment, just as you should for any marketing expense.You should always have a plan to track the ROI on your marketing expenses. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet
It helps to clarify what you want to get out of the open house, whether it’s more leads that could eventually develop into customers, more potential hires or job applications, or just more awareness of your work in the community.
But regardless of whether visitors are coming to your facility for an open house, a routine visit, or some other reason, it’s worth paying attention to the impression you’re making.
For more on best practices for visitor management, check out this daily comprehensive visitor management checklist. And if you want to learn more about The Receptionist, check out our full features list or request a personalized demo.
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