Who Are Your Hours For?

Headed to the library this weekend with my daughter. She was ready to go at 9 and chomping at the bit. I told her we’d get breakfast and take our time, since the library doesn’t open on Saturdays until 10 am.

Why aren’t they open now?” she asks. I said they probably thought the folks who work there deserve a little break on the weekend. “Why aren’t they open when the people who use them want to go?”

I pointed out that to accommodate everybody, their hours would probably have to be much later at night and earlier in the morning, more like a college library, since people have all different hours at which they are wishing for that one book or video, or a quiet, well-lit place to get some work done.

We went at 10, stayed a while, then came back at 5:30 pm when my daughter developed a desperate need for a Pokémon video to watch for movie night. Guess what? Closed again. Unbeknownst to me, they close early on Saturday.

The funny thing is, the very next day I’m sitting outside the library writing this post at 12:30 pm, having mistakenly thought they opened at noon (don’t weep for me, they’ll be open in another half hour).

I’m going to leave aside issues of public funding and possible declining interest in libraries, which are very real but not the subject of this post. In fact library hours are not what all this has got me thinking of, since I’ve rarely found myself here when they were not open.

Guess the Crazy Schedule and Win a Prize

This happens a lot at smaller shops and restaurants I try to purchase from. Days they aren’t open, hours when I can’t get to them—one shop near me has different hours for every day of the week!

Do you think anyone will memorize those hours, or will folks find the one hour that’s covered on all the days, and either go at 2:30 pm or skip the visit for fear of wasting the gas? Skip it.

Will some customers stop coming? Yes.

Customers will not do the work of figuring out your crazy schedule. Boom, the dollars go elsewhere.

Who are your hours for? Me (the customer). Not you (the owner). Sorry.

Why aren’t they open when the people who use them want to go?”

For people living in small towns, the headache is even more familiar. This is no small town, but I don’t think (town) size matters anyway. Growing your business matters, to you and to me, so here’s any easy change with long-term impact:

Find out when your customers need you to be open.

Be open then.

Big P.S.: Get a website now. It’s like hiring your own 24-hour, 365-day employee.

Earlier, later, or both? When do you need your favorite small business to be open?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson