(This is the first in an ongoing series of small business articles aimed at improving how to maximize sales and profit as a business owner.)
Family Day reminds me of a time not so long ago we called Sundays. Those were the days. Fast forward to today and the battle between family and consumerism is over… consumerism won and as a business owner it’s your job to deliver what your customers want, when they want it.
Whoever created the sign “Sorry, We’re Closed” likely has never been a small business owner. The last thing any business owner should be doing, especially a brick and mortar owner is to turn away customers even before they arrive at your front door with a big “We’re Closed” sign. So the quick answer to the question “When Should You Be Closed for Business?” is NEVER!
As late as the early 1990’s in Ontario, most shops and stores were closed on the Lord’s Day. Tell the average teenage this and they’d think we were living in the stone ages. When the government of the day allowed stores to open, the logical question to ask was why stretch out the week to sell the same amount of products and services? As it turns out, people buy more stuff (technical term) than they normally would. Economic activity increases, money gets exchanged and the government gets their cut in the form of sales taxes. Today, most stores still can’t legally open on holidays but large retailers are slowly changing this policy. As a small business owner with a physical retail presence, including dentist/doctor offices, real estate agents, lawyers, day spas and automotive repair centres, take notice that your business needs to be open whenever customers expect it to be.
Practically, when you cannot afford to stay open, there are three things you should be doing:
- Question everything that you are doing or not doing when your doors are closed. Do you have your neon “Open” sign still flashing? Are you certain customers are coming back when you re-open your doors? Have you asked customers if they would prefer alternate open hours? Do you have a business card or flyer that they can take with them? Have you checked your security cameras for how many people try to open your door when the door is shut? Are you letting existing customers know when your hours are changing from your norm?
- Put up an inviting sign that doesn’t look like you’ve gone bankrupt. Get it custom made so that you can control the message and look professional. If you’re closed on Sundays, put up a sign that says “We’ll Be Back on Monday 8am Sharp”. If possible include a phone number, email, or at minimum your website.
- Get with the 21st Century and provide your customers with a half decent mobile website that you update regularly. There is no excuse not to. If you’re closed for renovations, put up some pictures that shows how its going, when you’ll be done, and when the re-opening party is. Allow your customers to submit information and get back to them right away if possible. The technology is here to do that. If you can’t, then get an employee that gets paid a few bucks to reply back.
While I don’t subscribe to the theory that says customers are always right, I do believe that if they show up to your place of business and you are closed, then you owe it to them to make it right.
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