- 7 September 2023
- Written by Courtney
Strategise your Trading Hours
Business Talk: Trading Hours Strategy
Careful consideration of opening hours is sometimes overlooked in a business. Obviously, the goal is to be open when most of your customers want to access your goods and services, but businesses cannot cater to every customer, nor have the staff to be open for long hours. So how do you find the balance between the costs incurred through wages and utilities with the return for sales, customer loyalty and productivity?
If you’re opening a new business or thinking of adjusting your existing opening times to better meet demand, here are some considerations to inform your decision.
If a competitor is open when you’re not, that’s where your customers are likely to go while you’ve shut. You’re missing out on that earning potential, which is why some shopping districts and centres have set hours for all their businesses. Have a look at their hours and if businesses surrounding you have a typical ‘late night’.
Another tactic is to fill the gap in the market. If a lot of businesses close on certain days, such as Mondays or Sundays, you may be able to catch those customers while competitors are closed. This is particularly true for nearby competition.
For insights such as the average daily consumer spend in Pukekohe, check out our Pukekohe Spend Trend Report.
Where your business is positioned also impacts when customers will want to shop. If you’re surrounded by offices and workplaces, the lunchtime or after-work rush Monday-Friday may be what fills your café, bar, or retail store.
Many people in Franklin commute to work. Consider the time your customers will take to travel from their work to you. Evening or early morning hours may pull in a different set of customers to your business.
Of course, customers are a priority. Understanding local customers and when and how they want to shop is crucial. If you’re not open, you won’t just lose sales but also customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So why not ask them? Take the time to question regular customers on how you could improve your business hours to what they want and expect. Not only will you learn something new, but you’ll show those customers you appreciate and consider them.
A slow day one week, could be busy the next and vice versa. Don’t give up hope for those quiet times. Continue to test different marketing channels and messaging.
Just because the customers aren’t coming in to your shop, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It may just be a matter of finding a more successful way to reach them.
How to Maximise sales and customer retention
While looking at the numbers could theoretically show ‘optimal’ times to be open, being reliable is most important to your customers. If you’re open at 8:30am Monday-Wednesday, a customer will expect to be able to return at the same time on a Thursday.
Meeting these expectations improves their perception of your business. If they aren’t sure you’ll be open, they won’t risk making the journey to you.
It requires a very good reason and perhaps poor contingency planning on your part to close your doors. A sign on the door explaining you’re closed for lunch when a customer has used their own lunch break to come to you could mean you won’t see that customer return.
Update your hours online
Any changes to your business hours should be shown in all your customer touchpoints, including your website and Google Business Profile. Most people will now Google a business to find its location and hours. If it says you’re open on Google Maps and a customer turns up at a locked-up shop, this will make you appear unreliable.
Integrate online sales
Retail foot traffic has declined over the last few years. Expanding and promoting your online presence and e-commerce capabilities can increase sales on deliverable and click-and-collect products. This boosts sales without increasing wages and allows staff to be packing and organising online orders during your off-peak open hours.
Grow your business
If you’re struggling to be inside your business as much as you need, it may be time to get financial advice. An accountant can talk you through the costs and return involved in expanding your staff to cover or extend your open hours. Not only can this increase your sales but allows you to focus on other areas of business.
Open for the holidays
Holidays increase activities and spending. In Pukekohe, we consistently see spending peaks leading into and during holidays, from public and school holidays to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Adjusting your hours to match this increased demand could be very beneficial.
Utilise the quiet times
You may be tempted to mitigate costs by closing shop during off-peak hours – but this is a great time to get busy in your business, like cleaning, filling online orders, merchandising and restocking or improving the store experience. This preparation means your staff will be able to give their undivided attention to the customer when they do come. If you do end up making a sale too, this is another win.
- Matching your competitors' hours ensures you don’t miss earning potential
- If nearby competitors are closed on certain hours or days, fill the gap in the market
- Catch the commuters when they leave for and return from work
- Consider nearby buildings and when they could utilise your offering
- Ask customers when they need and expect to shop
- Keep your hours updated on Google and your website
- Maximise online sales potential
- Open for the holidays
- Consult your financial plan
- Utilise the quiet times
To strengthen our local economy, Pukekohe must remain a vibrant and bustling district that is accessible to customers.