I recently found myself in front of a major electronics supply store here in town just a few minutes before opening time. It was about four minutes before 10 a.m.
There we were, a small group of eager customers standing there in the freezing rain with our cash and credit cards in our hot little hands, eager to get in and spend a lot of money. (Perhaps I exaggerate a bit.)
Meanwhile, we could clearly see three or four employees loitering around inside near the front door with nothing much to do. Then exactly at 10 a.m. — and I mean exactly — the store manager came to the door with his key and unlocked it to let us in.
Now my question is this. If you have customers waiting outside and employees standing around inside with obviously nothing to do, why don’t you open the damn door a few minutes earlier than the sign on the door says is the opening time? Would some lightning bolt strike you all dead if the store opened a few minutes early?
Oh, sure I can hear some store manager’s reply: “Well, if we opened three minutes early one day, then people would expect us to open seven minutes early the next day, and where would it all end? Before long, we would be opening at — heaven help us — 9:30 a.m.”
My answer is this. If you insist on keeping the doors locked until exactly the stroke of 10 a.m., then at least keep your employees — the ones with nothing to do until we get in there to buy something — away from the doors and busy doing something useful. It is aggravating to see them standing there doing nothing while we stand outside waiting to get in.
Alternately — and here’s a concept — perhaps you should think about changing your store hours to start at 9:30 a.m., because obviously there are customers who want to shop that early. Remember, the object of the game is to sell your stuff to people. It also makes sense to sell it to them when they want to buy, not when it’s convenient for you to sell it to them.
That’s why you are losing business to the Internet, because that’s where your customers can buy stuff when it’s convenient for them to do so.
This subject also reminds me of a person I know who told me that although he works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he will not answer his phone after 4:45 p.m. because it often happens that a customer will take 20 to 25 minutes to process, and that keeps him at work past his regular quitting time.
That person is lucky he doesn’t work for me. If I knew that about him, I would tell him that the next time he comes in five or 10 minutes late, his salary will be docked for that amount — perhaps even for 15 minutes. I would also inform him that his hours have now been changed. His new hours are 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and that he will be paid accordingly from now on. Perhaps he won’t mind losing an hour and a quarter of salary each week, perhaps he will.
If he quits over my unfairness, good luck to him on his next job.