Hours for Physical Businesses on Company Websites

I’ve noticed a lot lately that many restaurants and/or brick-and-mortar establishments don’t have their hours on their website. This confuses me to no end.

In order to visit a store in person I really do need to know when it’s open.

With my current lifestyle, if I go out, I often end up at restaurants late in the evening, or going to a store late or very early in the morning. Knowing the opening/closing times of an establishment allows me to set a schedule, and visit physical locations at reasonable times. If I know an office supply store is open until 11pm, going in at 10:30pm to get an ink cartridge isn’t going to be a hassle for anyone.

I’ve found the most success as a consumer finding hours by simply Googling the name of a place, the city of the location I want to visit, and “hours” as in “location name Plano hours”. This method relies on Google’s scrubbers to find the information on the company’s website, “scrape” it off, and display it on the search results page in a no-fluff, marketing-free information dump. Why do I prefer this?

Most websites get in my way. Or simply don’t have the information I want.

I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve visited that don’t even have the hours of the physical location on them. Or if they do, some have the hours on the contact page, but not the location page. Or not on either of those but somewhere else, like in the footer of the site or a sidebar.

The most trouble I’ve had with this was getting the hours for a chain baby goods store. I needed to check out their selection of sunscreen for sensitive skin before I left town for Miami the next day. I had some already, but I wanted backup, and I prefer to buy it in person so I can look over the products’ ingredients lists for specific allergens.

Since I was in the neighborhood early in the morning, I figured I could stop by the store if it was open and browse their stock. I googled their hours: the store hadn’t put their hours in a scrapable text format; Google didn’t have that info.

I drove to their store on the way back from the vet. The hours posted on the door were small, white letters on transparent glass, and too far from my car to read without binoculars.

I went to their website on my iPhone and attempted to find the hours for that location. After several attempts with the “Use Current Location” feature (that, incidentally, must be enabled by the user in their phone settings to work) I searched for the zip code of my mother who lives nearby, and found the location (in whose parking lot I was sitting)…but not its hours.

I called the store, hoping the lengthy talk at the beginning of the inevitable ghastly phone tree would include their hours. It included their address and a list of departments to select, none of which was the “What Freaking Time Do You Open Department”.

I pressed 0 repeatedly until I heard a ring tone. The phone rang 5-6 times before it was answered by an eminently helpful employee who informed me they would open in five minutes.

All of this to learn that they open at 9, not 8, 8:30 or 10, all of which are reasonable weekday times around here for retail establishments to open.

Am I lazy? Maybe. Could I have gotten out of my car to walk up to the front of the store, see the hours, and then wait there like a Black Friday shopper? Yes, of course I could have.

But from a business perspective, why should your customer have to struggle to know when they can spend their money at your store?

There are already so many minute decisions between a customer and their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store that roadblocking any of them should drive the consumer to the nearest competitor who doesn’t make it difficult to know basic information like what time the store is open. I don’t have time to wait around and twiddle my thumbs hoping that a store is open on my way from the vet’s office to the bank.

This simple change tells me your business cares at least enough about having me there to tell me when it’s open.

  • Put your hours (for every day of the week) on the page below the address of the location
  • Don’t use un-scrape-able whiz-bang presentations for this information
  • If you must use an un-scrape-able technology to display your search results, include your hours in the meta data of the page so that can be scraped
  • Check your Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google Maps, and other venues for hours, and include them wherever you can