Customers at Closing Time

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about a follow-up to yesterday’s post, Don’t Do This.  You may remember that our dealer, Successful Sewing and Vacuum Center, made a $1,000 sale because his competitor, Foolish Sewing and Vacuum, had blown off the customer because it was five minutes until closing time.  Overnight, reader Jen had commented on the post, asking how Foolish might have better handled the customer.  You can read my answer under "comments" on the original post.

I think there are really two issues for Foolish Sew and Vac.  One is the lack of training/poor attitude of their salesperson.  But more important, at least in my humble opinion, is the fact that the consumer was able to leave Foolish S/V at 6:00 pm, their closing time, drive fifteen miles in heavy rush-hour traffic, and reach Successful Sewing and Vacuum Center while they were still open.

No one expects an independent retailer to match the big boxes twenty-four hours a day operating schedule, but they do expect you to be open when they need to shop. 

My first job, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, was in a neighborhood department store.  We were open from 9:00 until 6:00 every day except Monday and Friday when we stayed open until 9:00.  From Thanksgiving until Christmas we were open every night until 9:00.  That was great.  All of our competitors kept similar hours.  Most women didn’t work in those days and when men had to shop, which wasn’t all that often, they came in on Monday and Friday evening, or on Saturday.

Times have changed.  Most women work outside the home and people in general work longer hours. If your customer can’t buy what you sell at a twenty-four hour Wal*Mart, they can order it over the Internet.  There’s a simple formula for deciding whether you need to be open longer hours.  You can read it  in my response to Jen.  Simply put, if you can stay open longer hours and sell enough to cover the additional expense, you should do it.   Some customers will  see your "closed" sign and come back, many won’t.

Bob Negin has a good post on this subject on his web site.

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