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A Guide to Setting and Managing Your Business Hours

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If you own a brick-and-mortar shop, store or any related business establishment, one of the things that you or your staff do before the start of the working day is to put up the “come in, we’re open” sign on your front door. This shows that you’re open for business and ready to accommodate or take orders from customers. 

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you call the shots on what your business hours should be. After all, the hours you set can determine how long you and your staff will work, as well as how many customers you can entertain on a given business day.

What are the ideal working hours for your business? 

Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the formal definition of business hours.

What are Normal Business Hours?

The term “business hours” describes the “open” and “closed” schedules that a business establishment sets for its operations. These are hours during the day when establishments conduct business with the general public.

Business Hours in the United States

Normal business hours in the US are generally from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon. This is traditional “nine-to-five.”

The actual business hours in the country, however, vary due to the different time zones. The working hours in New York, for instance, are from 9 am to 6 pm. The working day, as you can see, tends to finish a little later. When you look at Chicago, many people in this city work from 8 am to 4:30 pm. The people in the US vary their working times. This way, more hours can coincide with those in the other time zones. 

Business Hours in Other Countries

Mexico

The business hours in Mexico usually begin at 7 am and conclude at 6 pm. There is, however, a long lunch break, which starts from 2 pm until 4 pm. Many tropical countries have a long break during the day. Some employees even take a siesta (an afternoon nap) during their lunch break. 

Germany

The business hours in this country begin earlier than in many English-speaking countries across the globe. German employees, however, finish earlier than their American or British counterparts.

Many German workers start their business day at 8:30 am. Some, in fact, begin at 7:30 am. The business day ends at 4:30 pm. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find anybody at work after 4:30 in the afternoon.

If you need to do a business transaction, you’ll need to get in touch with the German office before 4:30 pm.

Japan

The typical business hours in Japan are also from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. Many Japanese office workers, however, do a lot of overtime. This country, in fact, has one of the longest working hours in the world. Those extra rendered hours are often unpaid.

Almost all Japanese office workers go on a lunch break promptly from 12 pm to 1 pm. 

Factors that Influence Business Hours

Entrepreneurs look at several factors to determine what time their business establishment should open and close. 

Some of these determinants are the following:

Non-Traditional Lifestyles

Some do overtime. Others are working only on a part-time basis. Some employees juggle two or three jobs in a day to support their families. These can affect a store’s opening and closing.

What’s more, some potential customers prefer to do their shopping late at night. This allows them to avoid long hassles associated with busy aisles and long checkout lines.

Seasonal Considerations

Some businesses offer seasonal products and services. Retail establishments that heavily rely on the influx of tourists, for instance, often scale back their business hours (or even close completely) during the off-season. During peak season, however, you can expect the same businesses to have longer hours. 

Technology

The emergency of mobile phones, e-mail, cloud storage and other trappings of the modern business world has hastened the pace of the commercial environment in the United States, as well as in other countries around the world. This is partly because technology has made communicating easy for people and businesses regardless of the time of day.

What Should Be My Business Hours?

Determining your regular business hours takes a bit of planning and information gathering on your end. Here are a few suggestions to help you figure out the best time to open and close your business on a given working day: 

Keep Your Business Hours Simple

Customers don’t too much variance in your normal business hours. This means that your store shouldn’t open at 8 am on Monday, 10 am on Tuesday, 7 am on Wednesday and so on. Make sure that your regular business hours have a predictable pattern. 

Also, make sure that you round up your business hours. Don’t start and end at odd hours, such as opening at 8:42 in the morning and ending at 5:24 in the afternoon. 

Check Your Operating Costs

A mistake retailers make is that they only look at payroll when extending business hours. The truth, however, is that keeping your store open for longer impacts your other expenses. 

So get your profit and loss statement from the previous quarter and determine your operating cost per hour. You can calculate this by dividing the total expenses by the total number of hours open. 

Review Your POS Data

Generate a “sales and transactions by hour” report. This document will show your total number of transactions and sales by the hour for your business. 

Study the data carefully and look for patterns. Look at the hours with a high number of customers, as well as the hours with the least amount of people. 

How Do I Make the Most of My Business Hours?

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Extending your business hours doesn’t automatically mean that your business will grow. If you have to stretch the hours, you’ll want to make sure that you and your staff use them wisely. Here are a few productivity tips to help you achieve this goal:

Develop a Routine

Most of your time will slip off your fist like sand if you don’t have a routine. As much as possible, create a routine and stick to it. Begin working around the same time each day and conclude it at the same time every day.

Break Down Your Business Day into Segments

Divide your business day into parts and categorize them accordingly. You could, for instance, break your day into chunks of one hour or 30 minutes. Then, assign tasks to these periods.

Tackle Critical Tasks First

Zero in on doing the tasks that move the needle of your company. Determine the crucial tasks that you need to do every day. Then, do them daily at the start of the business day.

You need to wise in setting and managing your business hours. Every second you’re working should contribute to the growth of your bottom line. 

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