Have you ever driven to a favorite store or restaurant only to discover that the open sign is not lit up? Have you driven away, frustrated, wondering why?

For our latest installment of Carolina Curious, listener Susan Rochette asks, “Why are so many small businesses closed on Sunday and Monday?”

WFDD's Eddie Garcia spoke with Roger Beahm to find some answers. He's professor of marketing at the Wake Forest University School of Business, and also serves as the executive director of the Center for Retail Innovation.

“Small businesses obviously have to look at the needs of their customer base first and foremost,” Beahm says.

“The ultimate objective for these small business owners is to meet customer need profitably. And to balance what the expense is of keeping the lights on and the doors open relative to how much revenue comes in during those days.”

Beahm also says there's a consideration beyond the shopper - the needs of employees. “You like to have an environment where people enjoy working,” he explains. “Employers are looking forward to giving their employees time off to keep them motivated.”

For many businesses that means giving two days off a week. If sales are good enough on Saturday, they may want to close Sunday and Monday.  

Something that might shape this kind of decision could come down to what Beahm calls a business's ‘personal values.'

“We know there's a lot of business, for personal reasons, that like to keep their doors closed on Sunday, give their employees a day off for family, to go to church, and those kinds of things.”

So, according to Beahm, it looks like it all comes down to costs, customer traffic, and employee needs. But what about competition?

“If you're in a business that's highly competitive where every day means revenue that's coming in the door and you need that to be able to maintain the kind of growth and volume that you're looking for, you'll stay open to achieve that. But in a small business situation where you maybe don't have the national competition, then maybe you'll choose to go ahead and be closed one or two days a week.”

But doesn't this go against the grain of traditional retail wisdom? In this highly competitive market where some stores are open 24 hours a day, and people can shop anytime online, is money being left on the table? Or are these shops doing their cost-benefit analysis and realizing it's just not worth it?

“Well, you have to remember something - that in a small business situation, usually that's a privately held business,” Beahm explains. “And therefore you don't have a stockholder group, outside of maybe family members that you're accountable to.”

The financials work a little differently for a small business. They likely don't have the same pressures to generate massive amounts of revenue as a national chain does. The focus then comes back to employee happiness, which according to Beahm, can translate into efficiency, a high-quality product, and “a loyal customer who keeps coming back.”

Beahm's view is that work/life balance will inevitably lead to profit.

“While they may be leaving money on the table in the short run, it's probably assured that in the long run, they're continuing to generate revenue because of the satisfaction level of both their employees and their customers.”

So while you may not be able to get your favorite sandwich on Monday, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that the restaurant is closed for the right reasons. And remember - the sandwich will still be waiting for you on Tuesday.


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