300 Seconds: Are you open?

If I want to visit your store today, will it be obvious to me if the store is open or closed?

I’ve mentioned before that my dad was a barber. He had a glass front door and a couple of small windows, so if it was dark outside you could tell he was open for business by the small amount of escaped light. But during the daytime, passersby had to take their visual cue from the barber pole. The first thing he did after unlocking the front door every morning was to start it spinning.

Take 300 Seconds today and think about your bookstore and the different ways customers discover your hours:

  • Physical store. Are your hours posted on the door? Can they be seen from the parking lot or the street? Do you have a visible open and closed sign? Or perhaps you have special circumstances, like a coffee shop that opens a few hours before the bookstore. Do you need to add a neon sign or turn on a few lights in the bookstore to catch those early morning commuters?
  • Phone. Before the internet, the primary way to determine a store’s hours was to call them and ask, “Are you open?” Some customers still like to call to find hours, knowing that if they speak to a human, you’re open, and if they get an answering machine, you’re not. Try not to become annoyed if you’re interrupted with a call asking about hours, and instead, be glad they’re thinking about shopping with you and politely tell them your hours of business.
  • Answering machine. If a caller happens to reach you after hours, be sure to provide your hours of business through your answering machine message, and add that you’re always open online if they’d like to browse.
  • Online. Business hours should be listed on your home page. And while page bounces are the internet version of the “Are you open?” phone call, be happy that they’re still coming to your site. If you can entice them to click further down the rabbit hole, then that’s a bonus. Also, if you set up your hours on your Facebook page or Google Place, visitors to those pages will see if you’re open or closed at that time.
  • During events. Sometimes a crowded parking lot can deter shoppers who think you’re closed for a private event. If you promote events on a sandwich board or marquee, an additional “Come on in!” line might encourage event attendance.

If you have time today, take an additional 300 Seconds at different hours to look at your physical store. You might be surprised at the impression your store gives at different times of the day.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay