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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Bruce Morse, WSBDC Region 2 director
“Why can’t retail stores be open when it’s convenient for those working during the day?” Carol, Worland
From the customer perspective, if you work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you probably need to shop either after work or on the weekend.
I’ve heard that about 70 percent of retail buying happens after 6 p.m. and on weekends. I am not sure if that number is correct, but it does illustrate that at least a good share takes place later in the day.
From the store owner’s perspective, many have small businesses with few or no employees. They put in long hours and also feel like they deserve a life outside the store. However, I think some tend to forget that if they do not have customers spending money, they will not be in business for long.
So, what’s the answer? Here are a few suggestions. First, make sure you have consistent hours. Shoppers get frustrated if they never know when a business is open because it is different every day or is closed randomly when something comes up.
Malls have this figured out, requiring businesses to be open certain hours as part of the lease agreement. That is why consistency is so important. On a related note, it is not only good for a small business owner to do this, but even better if all store owners in the area agree to do it. All will benefit in the long run.
Try opening a little later in the morning and staying open later in the evening; this will support the after-6 p.m. shopper idea. You will be open the same number of hours, but just different hours. This may not be as convenient for the owner but, remember, it’s about the customer.
A final thought that I learned many years ago: If you say your hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., be open at 9:50 a.m. and plan to stay open until 7:10 p.m.
Remember, not everyone’s clock is set the same as yours. I’ve seen people come rushing up to a store at closing time, and a clerk has just locked the door and refuses to reopen. This is someone who wants to buy something or that person wouldn’t be rushing to get there. Help him or her spend money in your store.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.