When opening a new business, it is natural to want to work Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., just like the majority of the corporate world. However, working offset hours, whether that means starting work early, staying open late, coming in on weekends, or a combination of all three, may help your business gain a competitive advantage. For one thing, depending on your industry, you might have an easier time reaching prospective customers during hours when they’re less likely to be at work themselves. Moreover, if you’re open during times when your competitors are not, customers who need your services right away have no choice but to come to you. In the following industries, it makes sense to keep nonregular working hours to build your business.
If you run a small credit union or lending institution that provides financial services to consumers, then your customers have to carve time out of their busy work days to meet with you. Since most office employees work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., if you’re only open during those hours, your customers have to take time off work to do business with you. However, if your business is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., that leaves three hours at the end of the day when your customers can see you after work. You can spend the earlier part of the day doing paperwork or courting customers who also keep irregular hours.
Medical professionals, such as dentists and chiropractors, are notorious for keeping limited office hours. Consequently, patients with regular jobs who need their teeth cleaned or spine adjusted must inconvenience themselves or do without these services. Imagine how many extra customers you could pick up if you work in one of these professions and keep your office open until 7 or 8 p.m. some evenings. Many customers would give you a chance just so they wouldn’t have to take off work.
Even professionals, such as solicitors and accountants, have something to gain by working offset hours. Chances are, if you’re a solicitor or tax preparer, most of your customers are working people with full-time jobs. This means they’re less likely to be available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. In the case of solicitors, clients often need one on weekends, but unfortunately for them, few are open for business. Opening your office on weekends, and taking off Monday and Tuesday instead, helps you scoop up clients who have nowhere else to turn.
If you work as a consultant, your customers may encompass everything from people working freelance jobs to large corporations. Many business-to-business consultants keep regular working hours, erroneously thinking their work day should match that of their ideal customer. However, many customers, particularly those who are freelancing and busy trying to keep their own customers happy, simply don’t have enough time in the day to pencil in a consultant. Therefore, offering availability on evenings and weekends is a huge selling point to these customers.