Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Comment: Establishing Hours of Operation

There has been a lot of discussion about retail stores, businesses, and hours of operation, especially during peak shopping times such as holidays, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cyber Week.  These are my thoughts:

While it is tempting to increase hours of operation, time is limited naturally. It is important for businesses to be honest about their capabilities. Managers should ask themselves, what is the point of diminishing returns, when increased hours of operation yield little to no returns?  Managers should analyze, weighing costs of increasing store hours -- including overhead costs, production costs, employee morale, fatigue, separation anxiety from family and loved ones -- against revenue gained, and customers' perceptions during these times.

It is important to have time to take care of necessary business activities, activities that occur behind the scenes, that make businesses look as if they run seamlessly.  What would customers' perceptions be if expectations were not met during extended hours?

In some cases, closing doors and taking necessary time off, even if it goes against industry standards and norms, may improve customers' experiences.  Surely, having time off to relax, spend with family and friends, as some pioneering companies allowed during Black Friday for instance, reduces stress, re-energizes and motivates employees.

Establishing proper hours of operation, scheduling, effective management of demand, that work best for your business -- considering customers' needs, company and employees' needs, competition and industry standards -- is important.  Several tools exist today in the 21st century that allow businesses to remain open and available to customers when the office is closed -- such as websites, mobile sites, eCommerce sites, product listings, social media shopping buttons (such as Facebook and Pinterest), communications tools (email, site mail, voicemail, share buttons).

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