Store/Restaurant Owners – How Do You Decide On Your Operating Hours?


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Store/Restaurant Owners – How Do You Decide On Your Operating Hours?

I’ve gotten some great advice from this community so I wanted to throw this question out there – how do you decide what your store/restaurant hours should be?

A bit of background on why I’m asking – I co-own a cafe/food market in a seasonal town on the Jersey Shore. Our development is right on the beach and the shops are not visible from the road, but we do have apartments with year round tenants above us and in the area. Point being, our shop is not super high traffic unless its a beach day, but its not a complete ghost town either (most days!). Per our lease we are not allowed to close in the off season and technically must be open 7 days a week, but due to COVID I think they are being a bit more lenient.

Current hours are 9-7 and my husband works those hours 7 days a week with one very part time employee and I am there Fri-Sun to help out. Since we have the coffee bar, it feels late to open much later than 9, but during the week we really don’t see much traffic that early. We’d love to close earlier than 7, but some days we do the majority of our sales from 5-7 and we cant afford to miss out on those. It feels too confusing to have different hours on different days of the week, but my husband really needs a break!

Curious to hear what other businesses are doing and how you came to that decision!

Store/Restaurant Owners – How Do You Decide On Your Operating Hours?

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2 Replies to “Store/Restaurant Owners – How Do You Decide On Your Operating Hours?”

  1. I’m not a store or restaurant owner, but around here there are restaurants that are open in shifts and have weekend hours and no one bats an eye. They handle their morning breakfast rushes from 6am – 10am and then close until 4pm for dinner service. It’s also really popular to be closed on Monday or Tuesday entirely, and you could take one of those days as a “breakfast only” day or a “dinner only” day or something like that.

    You should review your sales data and adjust hours and staffing based on peak performance times, and really evaluate them on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. Just make a giant spreadsheet and see where your sales land, hour by hour and day by day, and then try to capture 80% of your sales with your operating hours. Customers will adjust, and it might make it easier to get your husband some time off if a part-time employee can take a morning shift completely.

  2. Hi! I managed a store for a large coffee chain for years and have since started my own business. One thing that always blew my mind was the consistency of customer behavior year over year and month over month.

    Point: If you had five years of historical data on sales you would see a trend that is remarkably consistent. Obviously, Covid changes everything. But patterns are patterns.

    Our criteria was simply transactional – less than double digits In a half hour at the end of the night means we close a half hour earlier. Some stores ended up with wildly different operating hours day to day. This is okay as long as you are extremely clear and your hours are easy to find.

    In a perfect world, your hours would be the same every day, but that is not your best option considering the value of your time. If you need to have different operating hours every day of the week, do it.

    Just make sure you:
    1. Post hours on every door.
    2. Make sure your listing is updated on google.
    3. Make sure you’re updated on all the big apps, like Yelp.
    4. Consider extending into the evening on days when you are seeing an unusual amount of activity right before close. You’ll never know how sales would have been if you close your doors.

    Finally, look out for events (like festivals or youth sports tournaments) that may affect business and consider extending hours on these days.

    Hope this helps!

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