Lately some restaurant owners are reporting they’re finding success keeping their restaurants open until midnight or later. But deciding what your operating hours should be depends on several factors:
- Location. Do you have any restrictions imposed by your location? Sometimes the neighborhood you’re located in requires businesses to shut down by a certain time each day. Are you in a business district where most of your clientele leaves when the business day is over? In this scenario, it may not make sense to be open nights or weekends at all.
- Neighboring Businesses. Another consideration is what other types of businesses are in the area. If the adjacent stores or restaurants don’t sell breakfast items, you might want to make sure you open early and add breakfast items to your menu. Or maybe the area is lacking somewhere consumers can go for dessert.
- Work/Life Balance. Many food businesses start out with a limited schedule such as breakfast and lunch or just lunch and dinner items. If you’re going to be open from breakfast through dinner, remember you’ll have to deal with shift changes for employees and you should consider hiring a manager so you don’t have to be there all day and night.
- Flexibility. You could start with limited hours only to discover your customers want more—which would be great news. Plus, adding hours creates great promotional opportunities, such as “Now open for breakfast!”
- Working Capital. Sit down with your accountant to make sure the additional expenses and resulting profits will justify the hours you’re open. Not only will you need to pay additional costs in salaries, but there will be extra costs for utilities and supplies.
Don’t get in the habit of changing your restaurant hours too often or consumers will be confused and never know when you’re open or closed. Finally, be sure you post your hours on all social media, your website, your Facebook page, and local search directories and ratings sites such as Local.com and Yelp.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.