When do you open? - Ashdale Business Consulting

When do you open?


I don’t know about you but when it comes to the summer any thought of a regular routine seems to go right out of the window.  Although times may vary depending on what I am doing, generally speaking in the colder and darker months of the year I usually conform to the usual stereo-type of when I wake up and when I eat breakfast, lunch etc.

Once it gets to around mid-May however that all seems to change.  The lighter mornings and evenings seem to throw me completely out of sync.  It then usually takes me a few weeks to adjust, at which point I find myself either starting work much earlier in the morning or sometimes starting again half way through the evening.  Work notwithstanding, this pattern of behaviour then transports its self into my social life where I then quite often eat or drink outside of the conventional windows.  The best way to describe it is that I almost go into holiday mode.

It’s during these months more than any other when I offer my thanks to those operators who have chosen to open all day.  It doesn’t mean I am in Wetherspoons first thing in a morning having a pint, but it does mean that I don’t have to force myself to eat when I am clearly not hungry or indeed forgo a meal because nowhere is open.

All well and good from my point of view but what does it mean from an operators perspective?

When does “all day” start

Fine dining restaurants aside there is a growing trend for pubs and those operating in the casual dining part of the market to open for longer than they historically would have done.  High street coffee shops and well know fast food retailers have been expanding their morning food and drinks offer and many operators now want a slice of that growing market.

In the past pubs or restaurants with fairly early opening times could only be found in London or at least bigger towns and cities where passing trade and footfall levels are quite high.  There are also still a few outlets such as The Market Porter, near Borough Market, who specialise in catering for particular early morning customer – the clue is in their name.  The bar there opens between 6.00am and 8.30am Mon – Fri and then again 11.00am to 11.00pm.  This and a few others are clearly exceptions.

That said these days it is not uncommon to find pub chains in even the smallest of towns opening their doors as early as 8.00am in the morning.  These outlets will then more than likely continue trading all day.  Some as late as midnight in the week and even later at the weekend.  There are also some pubs associated with hotels that open at 6.30am.  While this is mainly to serve breakfast to hotel guests they are also usually happy to serve walk-in customers.  Even more mainstream restaurant chains such as Frankie & Benny’s and Bella Italian now open at 9.00am and 10.00am respectively.  As they look to tap into the early and mid-morning food and drink market.

Where are my customers

Of course just because an operator decides to open up first thing in the morning doesn’t mean that they will be busy.  Clearly there needs to be a degree of research or fact finding to determine whether or not it makes commercial sense to open in a particular location before the more usual start times of eleven or twelve o’clock.

As well as doing your homework there is also the option of doing a trial opening.  That way you can test the water without a full blown launch.  The key is not to over staff during the first few hours or at least until you have a better feel of customer numbers and order values.  Something else worth thinking about is to give the on-site team alternative things they can be doing if things are slow.  These tasks shouldn’t take precedent over any customers but will help move things forward as well as stopping the team getting bored.

As or when trade picks up you can always bring more staff in as well as potentially increase what you offer on your menu.

But what are benefits of doing this?  Well according to Barclays Corporate Banking, they are huge.  In their 2018 Hospitality and Leisure report they estimated that restaurants, bars and leisure clubs could make a further £6.75bn per year by adapting their opening hours to changing consumer working patterns..

All day opening vs. all day menu

Regardless of which industry you work in it is very rare that ‘one-size fits all’.  And the same can be said for pubs or restaurants that choose to open all day.  Looking at best practice even those operators who choose to open first thing in the morning tend not to offer their breakfast menu beyond about mid-day.  Similarly no matter how hungry you are, you are unlikely to find a restaurant or pub, outside of an airport, that is willing to serve you a burger and fries at 9.00am in the morning.  Even McDonalds wait until 10.30am!

The key here is to make sure any restrictions regarding menu availability are very clearly communicated both in-outlet and where appropriate online.  Hopefully that will reduce any unwanted conversations at the point of ordering.

Whilst it can sometimes take quite a bit of time I also know some operators that like to remove their breakfast menus from the tables after a certain point in the morning to help limit any customer confusion when it comes to what is or isn’t available.

Looking across a range of different pubs, restaurants and other places which open early and stay open all day there is a common theme.  There opening hours are different Monday through Friday compared to Saturday and Sunday.  That said the same acknowledgement to how people behave differently during the week versus the weekend is less often reflected in opening times during different times of the year.

Looking outside of the world of hospitality it is quite common for operators to have different opening times at different times of the year.  In contrast there are far less restaurants, pubs etc. that have different opening times in the summer compare d to the winter.

This is just something to think about?