Go to work early or after your firm closes to find out what you may be missing. Consider some of these possibilities.
- Show up early. Are there a number of customers that are sitting and waiting for you to open? Is this because they go to work early in your area and your hours do not match their shifts? Do your hours reflect the neighborhood where you operate or the industrial park or commercial area which you serve?
- Do you have a handy 800 or ‘after hours’ telephone number or website on your front door or building sign to call for potential customers when necessary (broken water pipes, pet injuries, ? Is it clear how to get ahold of your company after working hours?
- If your firm pays for a security service in your industrial park, does he or she drive by while you are sitting there in the parking lot? If they spot you, do they stop and ask what you need or why you are there? Call the security service to ask how frequently the guards tour the neighborhood and how many times during an off shift should they drive by and check your firm.
- If your firm does not offer after hours service, do you provide callers an alternative outside source for goods or services? Is that easily obtained from information on your building? (telephone numbers, website addresses)
- Where do customers go when you are closed? Ask them. Why did they come to your store first? Your location must either be handy, useful for an unknown reason, on their way to work, serve something specific they want or else no other stores are open at that hour (an opportunity you may wish to study and pursue). You may discover an unknown competitive advantage you are squandering.
- What other companies or competitors are open when you are not? Drive down the street and see whose lights are on. If you notice cars that show up but leave at your facility, ask some customers what other stores are open and which would they suggest?
- Delivery trucks show up, park and proceed to wait in order to unload scheduled deliveries. Are their freight rates reflective of your inconvenient hours? Is this a problem or delayed wait? Could your goods be delivered somewhere else after hours or scheduled at a later time during operating hours?
- Do truck drivers bring their trucks to your parking lot and leave them? If so, make certain your freight carriers carry adequate insurance for theft that may occur on your property.
- Is your mailbox secure? Can anyone open it and steal your incoming checks? Can mail be deposited but requires a key to open? Look at your neighbors’ receptacles to see if they purchased a better option.
- How is the lighting? Is it adequate to thwart thieves (who normally prefer and select a dark unlit storefront to rob). Are the rear entrances to your building secure? Do overgrown trees, shrubs or plants obscure the front of your building or parking lot making it more inviting to break in? As you are sitting in your car after hours in front of your closed business, look at your building and others nearby and ask yourself which of the choices is easier to rob. It should be clearer to decide after hours with real perspective.