I visit a lot of retail stores. Most of the ones struggling financially have many things in common: poor retail store hours, awful customer service, weak sales, poor merchandise choices and selection, no suggestive selling, staff is afraid to sell, no weekly staff meetings to go over features and benefits of products, no newsletter, etc.
The owner usually complains that they are not making any money and that he or she is not taking a salary. The one item I notice across the board is that their retail store hours are usually created to be convenient for them, not their customers.
Many struggling stores close at 5pm or 6pm. This is too early given the fact that many of their customers are just getting off work or driving home during that time. Many of these same stores are usually closed two days a week because the owners want time off.
When I ran my specialty retail store we were open seven days a week for the convenience of our customers. This increased our sales. Our retail store hours were:
M, T, W, F: 10am-7pm
We were open these hours because we wanted to sell and make money. We recognized that many of our customers could not make it in until around 6:45pm on weekdays or shopped on the weekend.
Many times we stayed later than 7:00pm. One evening I stayed with a customer until 11:45pm (he purchased $4,700.00 worth of merchandise)! Again, we wanted to make money. You do that by catering to your customers and making it convenient for them, not you.
I see far too many store hour signs that look like this (I have also seen many customers trying to pull the door open on some of these stores so they could get in and spend money, but the stores were closed!):
T, W, Th, F: 10am-6pm (worst yet is when some stores close at 5pm, or even 4pm!)
If your hours look like the above, it’s time to start thinking about when your customers can make it into your store and adjust your retail store hours accordingly-if you want to make money. Next, you need to sell like a professional and give great customer service.
Follow the lead of Sideways, a gift store in downtown Plymouth, Michigan. I spoke to the owner, Sid. I told her that I was impressed to see that her store hours accommodate strolling dinnertime customers.
She said they get a lot of sales from the dinnertime crowds. Her hours are as follows, and I am copying and pasting this right from their website:
Mon: 10 AM – 9 PM
Tue: 10 AM – 9 PM
Wed: 10 AM – 9 PM
Thu: 10 AM – 9 PM
Fri: 10 AM – 9 PM
Sat: 10 AM – 6 PM
Sun: 12 NOON – 5 PM
You are in retail. This means long retail store hours. Treat your store like a business, not a hobby. Learn how to give great customer service and how to sell, and you have a chance at making money.
Do you have any stories about retail store hours you’d like to share? Please comment.
Kirt Manecke is the author of the award-winning books Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service, and Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World. Learn more about Kirt on his website.