“What Time Is Closing Time?”

Back in the 1970s things in business were different.

Retail was crazy different.

Saturday trading ended at midday.

And there was no Sunday trading.

Once a week, on a Thursday night, retail outlets stayed open a whole extra three hours for “Late Night Shopping”.

And that was it.

In 1976, while I was still at high school, I secured a job working Saturday mornings at our local Newsagency, which was one of the busiest newsagent stores in the whole of Sydney.

[For those born after 2000, a newsagency was a store that sold newspapers (ask your parents or grandparents what a newspaper was) and magazines (exclusively) as well as gift cards and wrapping and general stationery items. They also sold cigarettes and confectionery. And lottery tickets.]

As I got older, I was employed also on Sunday mornings and Friday afternoons.

Closing up was crazy fun….

On Saturdays we closed the Newsagency doors at midday and on Sunday mornings we closed at 11:00am.

If someone wanted to buy a newspaper after we closed, they could buy one from the mixed business located next door to the newsagency. We used to supply the mixed business with our unsold newspapers [by arrangement]. It was a good relationship.

I can’t believe we used to do this….

When it was time to close, it was time to close.

We used to lock the door, and only allow shoppers already inside the shop to complete their shopping [under pressure] and leave.

If someone came to the door desperate to come in we would turn them away.

If they needed a newspaper, they could get one at the mixed business next door.

And if they needed a card or a magazine, well, it was bad luck.

After all, they’d had all morning to get there, and they could come back tomorrow, because every day we opened up for business at 6:30am, 363 days every year.

I can’t believe we turned people away…

We did.

Never mind the opportunity of offering great customer service, we did TURN PEOPLE AWAY.

There was never any:

“Come on in. Take your time.”

There was only:

“Sorry, we’re closed.”

“Sorry, we’re closed now.”

“Sorry. We’re closed.”

But times were different then.

I do believe there were strong penalties for retailers who traded outside of regulated allowable times.

Never mind the opportunity of being able to provide a convenient service to the public? That was it.

Close up on time, or be closed down.

Do businesses operate this way nowadays?

Times have certainly changed.

In 2021, there are extended trading hours.

In the USA, there are extended trading hours most days of the week.

And with online shopping these days, there’s even less demand to get to a store before closing time. [except maybe the post office?]

What about the business telephone line?

I know in dental practices, at the end of the day, it’s the end of the day.

What time does a dental practice close off it’s incoming phone lines?

As a consumer, or as a loyal long term patient, what time at the end of the day do you expect your phone call to your dental office not to be answered, and to go through to a machine or to a service?

What time would be acceptable to you?

Here’s what I think.

If a dental practice website says that the practice hours are from 9:00am to 5:00pm, as a loyal patient or as a new patient, I’d be expecting that those hours are hours for TREATMENT, and only relate to appointments.

And so, I’d be expecting that if I phoned that dental office at 5:03pm, there’d be someone there still completing end of day clerical duties who could happily help me with my call.

At 5:03pm I’d not expect to go through to a machine.

And at 4:30pm, I’d definitely not be happy if I phoned up and went through to a message.

If you’re in the service business…

If you’re in the service business, then there’s got to be some wiggle room in favour of the customer, when it comes to defining the end of the day.

In 2021, if you’re in any sort of business, there MUST be wiggle room in favour of the customer.

If you think in 2021 that you’re in the dental business, and not in the service business, then you’re respectfully mistaken.

In 2021, it doesn’t matter how good your restorative margins are, it matters more to your customers, clients, and patients how great your service is and how memorable your service is.


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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com