Have you ever gone to a store and found out they were closed when they were not supposed to be? Isn’t it frustrating? It leaves an unsavory taste in your mouth and definitely leaves you reconsidering a return trip. Especially, if there is no guarantee that it won’t happen again. Often times this frustration is documented on social media or spread by word of mouth. This can permanently damage your reputation as a business owner and rebuilding customer bases can be difficult if this is a recurring issue.
As a business owner, you have invested your time, energy, and money into developing a successful business. I am pretty sure you didn’t make the choice to open a business to lose money, so make sure that you don’t lose money and customers by consistently deviating from your regular operating hours.
Sure, emergencies happen, as a business owner you need to establish a plan for how to notify your customers that you will not be open. The goal is to ensure that the customers (or potential customers) understand that this is not a frequent occurrence and that you did not have the intent to inconvenience them. You have a few options. You can post a sign on the door- make sure that the sign is straight to the point and apologizes for any issues this may cause. Show customers that this was unexpected, hopefully short-lived, and you plan on returning soon (provided a date and time, if possible). Another option is to put the information on your website or to post on social media. Social media is a great vehicle for spreading news to the masses- especially those who are regular patrons of your establishment. A quick post may save on some frustration or a wasted trip.
Slow day? Exhausted? Think that it might be better to just go home and catch up on some rest? I caution you to not do it! Work schedules, children’s’ extracurricular activities, commutes, and life impact when a customer can come in. They may not be able to stop in until just before closing time. It is much easier to talk to a customer about the products and services you offer, rather than have to explain why you were not open when your door, website, or social media said you would be.
Annual Review of Store Hours:
I suggest that you review your hours annually (at least). Depending on the point of sale system you use- you may be able to find data that supports what hours are most profitable and what hours are not. This may cause you to decide to change hours semi-annually or seasonally- especially depending on what you offer. If you are open until 9pm and you have no sales after 7pm, it might be time to adjust. I don’t recommend changing more often than seasonally because it may be difficult for customers to keep track of. Communicate with other business owners. Why did they choose their hours? Is it working for them? Are they closed on Sunday’s because it is family time or business was slow? If everyone else is closed should you be closed? Remember that slow hours can increase productivity and allow you to catch up, so plan on a little downtime to make sure you are running efficiently.