Pulling off a great Open House Palooza
by Rod Sawatsky
Tuesday, July 7, 2015. The aftermath of hosting a great event always seems to include a mix of contrasting emotions. There’s the fatigue and letdown after a hard push of adrenaline, mixed with a sense of satisfaction for having accomplished something meaningful for people you care about.
I can honestly say that this week’s Open House at Pivot’s new office was the most epic company open house I have ever attended. The attention to details to make it appeal to all ages, from children to adults, was impressive. So, what does it take to make an open house a memorable event? Well I’m sure there are dozens of effective ways to tackle this challenge but I’d like to share some things that made this a success in our community.
In short, it took a whole team putting in their time and passion, believing this was a significant event they were participating in. I believe widespread involvement in preparing the space from much of the Pivot staff and their family members contributed to a deep sense of shared accomplishment that brought a palpable energy to people’s conversations as they explored the new space. Mark Fordice, one of Pivot’s principals, highlighted a few things worth repeating:
- We brought in lots of different professionals with different talents: general contractor, interior designer, and of course all the trades/subs. But welcoming our own team into the process was the most rewarding thing to watch, as a good third of our Pivoteers stepped up in both the building project and the open house planning.
- Putting our best into every aspect made it easy to feel proud of the space as we showed family and friends what we’ve been up to the past few months. At our open house I must have heard more than 50 people gush about the new space. It’s worth every hour and every dollar we’ve put into it.
- Expect the unexpected. 12 minutes before the open house started a shelf crashed down in the kitchen and we had 20 porcelain plates smashed into a million pieces on the floor. The noise struck terror in us as we all heard it from afar. Seven people jumped in, cleaned it all up, and we were good to go. Expect something to go wrong, and be ready to have a great response!
- Don’t leave 6 year old boys alone with a fog machine.
It was clear to see in the lead-up that the most critical element to pulling off a successful, large-scale event is to have a dedicated event planner with committed support people. Jenny Green was our event superhero, and seemed so incredibly on top of things. Every single thing people brought to her, she handled immediately. Ameena Bossier also provided great support for countless details all along the way.
Jenny had this to say after Pivot Palooza, “Every detail, from the parking lot balloons directing people to our office, to the entertainment and the food and drinks—it all makes a difference. Guests will notice how much work you put in to making their experience a positive one. No one knew that minutes before the event started, we had a kitchen shelf collapse and we were cleaning up a ton of shattered dishes. No one knew that we ran to get wine and extra ice after the event started. Guests will see what you want them to see.”
Ameena adds, from her experience with organizing for the event, “One thing I learned from planning this event was that you can never have too much communication. It’s so important to make sure big decision makers are involved in the process and well informed about what is going on. And always have a system to get an accurate head count, but know it will probably change on you.”
My own contributions included preparing large posters of recent client ads we’ve produced to hang on the walls, and some hand lettering on the walls to welcome our guests. My favorite was building a welcome message around a deer trophy head on a chalkboard. This piece is truly unique and quirky, reflecting Pivot’s northwest culture well. The other was a wall for all our guests to sign. It was almost filled at this one event, a clear indication of people’s enthusiasm to make their mark and be remembered. These projects were a blast and worth considering as examples of unique expressions of personality.
It is always tough to measure the value of hospitality like this in quantifiable terms in the same way that it is tough to describe the full impact of a key relationship in your life, like a spouse or parent for instance. But we felt it in the sheer volume of meaningful interactions, the joy on youngsters’ faces, the exclamations of delight in the food and environment, and opportunities to meet family members and clients in a relational atmosphere. It left us with a deep gratitude and a sense that we had been privileged to witness a key milestone in the history of Pivot Group. Key accomplishments need to be celebrated with others in order to appreciate what has taken place and to carry a sense of optimism and hope into the future. I believe time will prove that it was worth all the hours, cost and effort that went into this epic Pivotpalooza celebration.