Small Business Retail–More on Store Hours

As a follow up to Tuesday’s post, “Small Business Retail–Setting Store Hours” some readers have commented that it’s just too hard to find qualified employees and that they probably wouldn’t be that good anyway.  In other words, it’s better to be closed than to disappoint the customer with poor service.  While I can appreciate the thought, I have to respectfully disagree.

After all, isn’t the high unemployment rate the top story on nearly every newscast?  As I understand it, millions of quality people are looking for jobs, even part-time ones.  Many of them are middle-aged white collar workers who would be more than willing to make the effort to learn your business.   Their savings, pensions, buy-outs, or other assets may be almost enough to get by, but they’d sure like a few extra dollars each week to pay for their golf habit, to get their hair done,  or for an occasional restaurant dinner.

A case in point.  I have a friend who loves to sew.  She and her husband are retired but she works part-time for a local sewing machine shop.  The extra money is nice, but she’s also very motivated to be around all the newest and best sewing machines and accessories.  Her hours are flexible.  She’s the perfect part-time relief for the owners when they want to spend some time away from the shop.  Besides, it’s not like you don’t have the tools to stay in constant communication with the store, even if you’re lying on the beach.

An hourly worker is never going to replace the store owner, and that’s not what most of you are looking for.  But the idea that you’re indespensible, even in your own business can lead to exhaustion, depression, and who knows what else.

As I said Tuesday, if you’re satisfied with the hours you’re working and the money you’re making, then keep doing what you’re doing.  But if you’d like more time off, or if you’d like to fatten up the bottom line, then you’re not going to be able to do it by yourself.

Hopefully you’re not planning to work in the store until you drop dead of old age.  You’d like to think that the equity in the business will allow you to retire some day.  But if the business can’t be run properly without you’re being there every hour the store is open, then your “equity” is only the building, fixtures, and inventory.

Jesus said that the hired hand doesn’t care for the sheep as well as the shepherd does.  Of couse he was right.  But it doesn’t hurt to have the hired hand fill in once in a while so the shepherd can have a weekend off.

A good reference on this subject is Michael E. Gerber’s excellent book, “The E Myth Revisited.”

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