Business Hours, Prime Time, Open For Business

As most of you know, Elaine and I cruised on the Enchantment of the Seas to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It was great. I didn’t think about work, business, or selling while I was gone except once on Grand Cayman.

I noticed that almost everything, restaurants, stores, offices, etc. were closed on Sundays. I was talking to a native and they confirmed that most businesses were totally closed all day Sunday………

Except when a cruise ship was in the port.

Then, EVERYTHING IS OPEN! Why? Because that’s when their customers are ready to buy.

How many of us are open at our convenience? How many of us don’t answer our cell phone? How many of us don’t give our cell phone number to our customers? When a customer has a question, complaint, or is ready to buy, shouldn’t you be open?

Grand Cayman knows they should be open when the customers show up. Are you?

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7 thoughts on “Business Hours, Prime Time, Open For Business

  1. Voice mail hell is a great example of not being open when the customer is ready to buy, or, require customer service. How often does it happen when you can’t reach a particular person, can’t reach anyone at all, get placed on hold for 45 minutes, finally reach someone and they can’t or won’t help. We can all learn from Grand Cayman!

  2. I think this blog makes me change my mind set a lot. I have always been trained that your cell phone is the do not disturb area of the business but you’re right. Your customers need to get a hold of you when they need you. If its a customer who ready to buy or a customer who has a question or concern its better customer service if they are able to get a hold of you when they need to! Changing my cell phone rules starting today. Thanks

  3. As readers of my blog will know (I write a funeral home marketing and management blog), there are different types of customers that require varying degrees of accessibility. A price customer is more likely to accept limited hours. An experience shopper, on the other hand, expects much wider availability and is willing to pay more.And while I strongly believe it’s important to be available to your clients, it’s also imperative that you set boundaries for your involvement. Communication is vitally important when “ignoring” a client. Whether you communicate your unavailability by recorded message, email or website, you must clearly state the nature of your absence (emergency, routine, etc.) and an EXACT latest time by which you will respond.Funeral professionals use this method when reporting to a death in the middle of the night. Since the owner seldom goes to these deaths anymore, the person making the removal of the remains will tell the family that “someone will contact you by 9:00 am to set up an appointment for you to make funeral arrangements.” This comforts the family and lets them know a time (9:00 am) after which they should be concerned if no one contacts them.

  4. Tim,Thank you. Your comments are right on. I made the conscious decision that price customers could go elsewhere, so knowing how and when to be accessible to my experienced shoppers became paramount and as you pointed out, when I wasn’t, my clients knew when I’d return. (I can’t tell you how many times a good client called me “off-hours” to leave me a message, and had me answer. The 30 second phone call saved us some phone tag, allowed us to schedule the return contact and made them appreciate “extreme customer service” all at once.)I read a few of your posts. (I’ll read more and suggest others should, too, at http://finalembrace.wordpress.com/.) Although you may be targeting funeral homes, your sense of humor, delivery style, and content can be used in many other industries. As an example, we use paper coffee cups in our training room and our conference room. I think that if you’re important enough to sit in our conference room, you’re important enough to drink your coffee or tea from a real cup with our logo on it. Thanks for the tip. I’m sure that we’ll be in touch.

  5. I also run a manufacturing company (so many pies and so few fingers) that makes mortuary cot covers (Plug Alert!: http://www.cotcovers.com). Specialized, huh? But because we’re small and because I charge a premium for my product, I answer that phone day or night. I’ve had calls at 11:30 pm that turned into orders. Just last night I stepped away from the nephew’s baseball game to talk shop with a mortuary service owner from South Carolina. That 30 minute called turned into an order for several hundred dollars.One of the dangerous effects of the funeral industry is the drain it can have on families. It is not unusual for the “old school” guys to expect their staff to work 80+ (very odd) hours. I wrote about the diet plan that goes along with this here: http://finalembrace.wordpress.com/2007/01/11/the-funeral-director-diet-regimen-sign-up-today/.There’s an interesting tug of war going on in the funeral industry today, as the next generation of mortuary students has begun looking for jobs that fit their concept of “work.” Many expect to walk right into a 40-50k job without paying their “dues” by working late nights in the preproom (where the preparation of remains takes place) or by mowing the lawn, washing the cars and hauling flowers at funeral services.On the other end of that rope is all the previous generations of funeral directors, who not only mowed the lawn at the funeral home, but the lawns of the owner’s friends and family. Often, hiring a new apprentice (most states require and apprenticeship after graduation) meant someone else could get a full night’s sleep because the newbie’s answering the middle-of-the-night phone calls, half of them pranks.I often use my blog to remind funeral professionals that it’s important to have boundaries, because so few of the dedicated ones know how to separate their family life from their business. One of the best ways to prevent a child’s resentment toward the business that keeps mommy or daddy away long hours is to involve them in the business.One funeral director I know has allowed his children free reign of the funeral home when clients aren’t present. He taught them proper respect for the deceased; they often watched as he applied makeup or helped him place floral arrangements around the casket. One of his children even dresses in a suit and wears a nametag labeled “Future Manager” when he’s at the funeral home for a service. Far from being creepy or morbid, the children have each learned why dad’s job is important and understand how the funeral home supports the rest of their life.

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