Business hours play an essential role in the success of any business. Most of us would think it is better to keep the business open for as many hours as possible. But the number of hours a business is open may highly depend on the type of business you are in and with what kind of costumes you deal with.
There are certain disadvantages of keeping a business open for longer hours. So any business must identify the ideal times it should be open. Deciding the business hours is generally a strategic decision.
There are several factors the business needs to consider when determining the actual operating hours of the business. One of the most common questions most businesses have today is how many hours a business should be open.
When deciding the number of hours a business should be open, they need to focus on multiple factors. Keeping business open for longer hours will immensely increase operating costs, which is a disadvantage for the business. Firstly the business needs to closely monitor past sales data to understand the ideal operation times. The business can obtain customer feedback to identify when the customers want the business to be open.
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of competitors with regards to opening times will be beneficial for any business. It will help the business to cater to untapped opportunities in the market. The business also has to do self-study to understand its business performance at different times of the day. In the end, the business needs to balance increasing sales and profits while keeping it open during suitable times.
Tips to decide how many hours the business should be open
There are several crucial factors that any business needs to focus on when deciding the business’s operating hours. Below are some important tips that will support your business in choosing the ideal operating hours.
Constantly monitoring sales data to understand the peak times of the business
Monitoring sales data can be one of the most important ways a business can use to identify suitable operating hours. If your business uses a point of sales system, it will give you a set of valuable data that serves this purpose. The point of sales system or any other system that the business uses to monitor sales will be able to provide data on the hourly, daily sale. Also, you can generate reports that determine seasonalities and any other demand that occurs.
One example could be having more sales on weekends than on weekdays. This may be due to families staying at home during weekends and engaging in more shopping. The business can use that metric to keep the business open for longer during weekends. Also, if Mondays consecutively show more sales than other days of the week, the business can change the operating hours on Monday.
Moreover, during special events such as Christmas, the businesses may need to change their standard operating hours to match the demand.
There can be instances where the foot traffic increases closer to the opening or closing time of the business continuously. You can then extend the opening and closing hours of the business to capture the additional sale. On the contrary, there can be times of the week or day with zero or minimal sales.
Identifying these times is essential for businesses to minimize the negative return on investment. These reports will help you identify trends in sales that will ultimately lead you to understand the best operating hours for the business.
Obtaining constant customer feedback to understand how many hours should a business be open
Customers are one of the most important stakeholders in any business. Customer feedback can be a significant piece of information that will help the business determine their experience with products or services. Similarly, you can conduct a survey amongst your customers on their preferred operating hours of the business.
The study can also consist of questions that gather information about the days and times they prefer to go shopping most. Collecting this information will immensely help the business make the correct decision on the operating hours to provide the best experience to customers.
Track and monitor competitor data
Competitor data is vital for any business as they are the most prominent force that can significantly affect your business. Competitor information will help the business understand where your competitors are and their strengths and weaknesses. When you are trying to decide your business’s operating hours, information on competitor business hours will play an important role. This is because customers can switch between substitutes easily.
Related Article: How do nearby businesses with similar products usually compete?
If your product is not available at the right time, then there is a tendency that your customers will purchase it from a competitor store. Any business needs to monitor its competitor moves closely. Imagine you identify a gap in the operating hours in one of your competitors. You can utilize it as an opportunity to make yourself present for your customers.
Google will help you to identify the operating hours of your competitors. First, you can search your competitor name on the search tab. Then there will be a popup box on the right-hand side with some information. Underneath, you will find a tab called ‘popular times.’ Click on it, and you will be able to find your competitors’ busiest times in terms of making sales. You can use that data to make a comparison when deciding the operating hours of your business.
Keep an eye on your operating costs
The operating cost of a business refers to the expense incurred for the administration and maintenance of the business’s daily functions. It is an important metric used by many businesses to identify the company’s expenses and efficiency. Examples of operating costs are payroll, tax, insurance, etc.
One of the most common blunders that businesses do is think only the payroll will increase when they increase the operating hours. However, it is important and crucial to understand that all your expenses will increase when a business operates longer than usual. You can use your past profit and loss statements to calculate your daily and hourly operating cost.
Be aware of seasonalities to understand the most appropriate operating hours
Seasonalities is a crucial factor that most businesses need to focus on. This is mainly because businesses heavily depend on seasons that occur in the year. General seasons for a business could be Christmas, New year, etc.
During seasons, the business might have to either open early or extend their operating hours. But the business needs to analyze the data and carefully decide what strategy they will use to gain the maximum benefit from the seasonality effect. This is because seasonality will bring specific challenges to business. Some of them are an increase in labor supply, working capital, effort, and time.
Focusing on different customers during different times of the day
Customers play a vital role in the success of any business. Types of customers who seek a product or a service from a business may vary based on the day’s different times.
The research findings depict that most of the morning customers for business would have the following characteristics.
- Morning shoppers would be mostly women than men
- Will be middle and older age
- Can be unemployed and would have leisure time in the morning for shopping
- Would focus on variety, hence will spend time choosing before making a purchase
- Will have adequate time for shopping and is less pressured with work.
The afternoon customers will generally have the following characteristics.
- Afternoon shoppers can be people who are young and energetic
- Will have less pressure and time constraints
- Looking for a better experience
The characteristics of evening customers can be depicted as below.
- Will be mostly the employed crowd who are working in a busy schedule
- Lack of time for shopping hence will make a quick purchase
- Time pressured
Any business needs to understand the types of customers during different times of the day. The business’s operating hours need to be in line with the nature of the customers that visit the business during different times of the day.
The business hours will depend on the type of business you are involved in
The operating hours of business may significantly depend on the nature of the business you are in. If you are in the B2B category where you are providing a product or a service to another business, it would be adequate to keep the business open from Monday to Friday. If your business works with multiple countries, then time zone differences need to be considered.
You need to be vigilant about adjusting your business hours to suit your customer and business nature. The traditional way was keeping the business open from 8 am to 5 pm and will most probably be closed during lunchtime. However, in the fast-growing world, businesses will have to be available for transactions at any time your customer wants your service.
Use emerging technologies and tools to monitor customer behaviors and purchase patterns
Consumer behavior analysis plays a vital role in deciding the most appropriate operating hours of the business. There are a large number of new tools and software available for businesses to identify consumer buying patterns.
There are new automated systems using traffic counting sensors to measure retail foot traffic. Some of these systems use GPS and Bluetooth technology. The collected data on foot traffic will help the business understand the marketing success and the ideal business hours it should be open.
When the business identifies the best operating times through foot traffic data, they will plan promotions during those peak times. Moreover, businesses can use tools such as Findmyshift for better planning of operating hours of the business.
Carry out a self-study on the business to understand how many hours should a business be open
To understand the buying behaviors of your customers, you will have to conduct your research study. Gather your point of sales data, sales data, and competitor data. Tabulate the data in a way that will help you to analyze and understand patterns and trends. You can use graphical representations such as charts and graphs for this purpose.
Then you can look through the analysis to spot patterns and trends as discussed above. Try to understand what times of the day the business has made most sales. This in-depth analysis will let you know a lot of valuable information that will help you decide the business’s best operating hours.
Examples of operating hours of various types of businesses
There is no correct answer for the best operating hours of a business. As discussed, the operating hours of a business may change based on the type of business you are in. Also, it may vary depending on what times the customers want you to be open and be available for business. Moreover, it may depend based on the time of the day and year as well. However, any business needs to have a solid time for opening and closing to provide a great customer experience to customers.
As per research findings below are the most appropriate weekend operating hours for the majority of the businesses.
- Saturday 11 am to 1 pm
- Saturday 3 pm to 5 pm
- Sunday 3 pm to 5 pm
- Sunday 11 am to 1 pm
Some of the common examples for operating hours of businesses are mentioned below.
|Type of business||Operating hours||Reason||How to decide|
|Restaurants and Cafes||7.00 am (If you are serving breakfast) – 12.00 am Can close from 2 pm -4 pm||Closing in mid-day will save labor as there will be very little customers between that time||Identify the peak times and avoidance times |
Keep an eye on competitor hours
Analyse past data to understand trends and patterns
|Gift Shops||9.00 am – 8.00 pm on weekdays|
9.00 am to – 9.00 pm on weekends
|To allow customers shop from their way home from work|
To shop anytime of the day for gift requirements
|Identify the peak times and avoidance times |
Keep an eye on competitor hours
Analyse past data to understand trends and patterns
|Clothing store||9.00 am – 8.00 pm on weekdays|
9.00 am to – 10.00 pm on weekends
|Longer hours during weekends to manage the weekend rush||Identify the most frequent shopping hours through customer research |
|Supermarkets||7 am to 10 pm on all days|
Some supermarkets keep their stores open for 24 hours
|As supermarkets play in the essential goods market, there can be both day shoppers and night shoppers |
Noon and day time of supermarkets can be extremely busy as most people shop on the way from work
|Understand consumer buyer behavior and foot traffic data|
A business should be open for customers for several hours, where the business can provide an excellent service to your target customer base. So to achieve this, there are many practices that a business needs to follow.
The business needs to monitor sales data to understand peak times continuously. Customer feedback also plays a vital role in understanding the most appropriate business hours. They will give you a sensible insight as to what times they expect the business to commence operations.
Thirdly, the business needs to monitor competitor data to identify existing gaps and opportunities continually. Also, the business can keep an eye on the business’s operating costs as your business hours can have a direct impact on your operating costs.
Moreover, businesses need to be cautious about various seasonalities. It is important to note that the operating hours of a business need to change with the type of business you are involved in. It is also essential to be aware of the emerging tools and technologies to help the company identify the best business hours. Some of them are Findmyshift, foot-traffic sensors, etc.
In conclusion, it can seem that deciding the best operating hours of a business can be very tricky. The business’s ultimate focus needs to be to give the best customer experience, and your business hours must support it.