Are you open to opportunities?

I’ve just spent a fabulous 10 days on the Canal du Midi in the South of France, I was not alone! Given that the schools were back after the summer holidays we were surprised at how busy the canal was. We shouldn’t have been! Early September is a great time for those without responsibility for school age children to take their holidays and the canal was full of people from all over the globe doing just that.

The Canal du Midi provides business owners with a captive market should they choose to access it.

The Canal du Midi provides business owners with a captive market should they choose to access it.

There must have been at least 10 boats starting their holidays at the same time and from the same place as us, probably more. We had a crew of 6, many of the boats had more, that’s a lot of people looking for food and drink. Pass any boat from about lunchtime onwards and the beer and wine were much in evidence, however restocking wasn’t easy.

One of the things we commented upon was how the shops and restaurants were closed just when we needed them. What a lost opportunity. Holidaymakers are often willing to spend much more money than locals and their needs are fairly easy to anticipate.

Are you open when your services are most needed?

Now I know that every business owner needs a break and few want, or need, to trade 24/7 but when we are considering our opening hours we should think about when our services will be most needed. In this case the bulk of boats will be hired out from Saturday afternoon until the following Saturday morning, they have few choices about where they go and their speed is controlled by the limits of the canal so their daily destinations are fairly easy to anticipate and the majority of boats will be looking for restaurants and shops at a given time or day. When restaurants, bakers and convenience stores are not open at those times they are losing potential trade.

It is not just traders along the Canal du Midi who may be losing out, I see the same problems locally as retailers open traditional hours from early morning until 5.30p.m. when their commuting prospects are not back home until 6.30 or 7.00p.m. Are they losing out too?

Have you re-visited your trading hours recently? Have you considered the opportunities that other businesses might be creating for you? Are you sure that you’re maximising your selling opportunities?


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