In the Trenches: Expanding Our Hours

I’ve written about Cranky Concierge’s struggle with business hours before. One reader asked the obvious question that emerged from the discussion: “So, Brett, how far down the line do you see your business being ‘open’ 24/7?”

In other words, when will we just forget about business hours entirely and be a round-the-clock operation? I don’t imagine this is going to happen anytime soon, if ever. That’s because our ability to operate all day and all night depends on the company’s growth. When there’s enough demand, I will hire people to work additional shifts. But we definitely aren’t there yet.

Do we get a fair bit of interest outside our traditional business hours, which are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Pacific), Monday through Friday? Yes, but it’s primarily on weekends. For example, sometimes it’s a current client who just didn’t have time to contact us during the week. Other times, it’s a new client who’s working out travel plans when he or she is at home. Today, we see those types of emails come in and, after making sure they aren’t urgent, we respond on Monday morning. (Sometimes we reply on Sunday night, so we can clear out our in-box.)

Is there enough demand to justify hiring someone to work weekends? No, not yet. I mean, we might have a couple hours of work each day on Saturday and Sunday at this point. If we see that increase, then weekends will be the first time slot to get coverage.

Meanwhile, do we have enough interest between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. to warrant a graveyard shift? Definitely not. And I don’t imagine we ever will — unless we grow internationally. Most of our U.S. clients do not plan trips in the middle of the night, so our hours work for them. If, however, we start doing more business in Europe and Asia, then those overnight times for us are daylight for them. That to me is a much easier decision. If we make a big push in those regions, then we’ll add more staff at those times. Otherwise, we won’t.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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6 comments
cedarglen1
cedarglen1

Yup. For business-in-progress, CC does a fine job, 24/7.  Your concern - I think - was only about expanding the new intake business.  Thirteen hours a day (6A-7P, PDT) is enough -   I think.  The folks that you want to deal with - those that you want as clients, make their arrangements within those hours.  When you need to expand, you'll know it - and not right now.  Thanks.  -C.

Chbot
Chbot

 @cedarglen1 Agree with your statement about a fine job, and as we both seem to know that some operations at CC are around the clock operations.

But we both felt the need to post a comment to clarify that, hence there is a communication "failure" in using generic terms like "business hours" ...

 

And it's not the first time that Brett is speaking about misunderstanding and/or customer's unhapiness about response times when he was thinking that answering the following morning or after the week-end would have been in line with his communication and business set-up !

 

And finally, I agree that 13 hours a day is probably enough (and certainly difficult to staff every day of the week). My only concern would be opening at 6AM PT, which translate into 9AM ET). Depending on where the majority of CC customers are located, you could ask yourself if you shouldn't start at 8 or 8:30 AM ET to follow your customers office hours.

crankyconcierge
crankyconcierge

Yes, if you click on the links in the first paragraph, you'll see I discussed this in more detail previously.  This is more of a follow up.  We are a 24/7 operation when it comes to monitoring flights or for anyone who needs urgent assistance.  This is just for regular planning.

Chbot
Chbot

 @crankyconcierge 

Education is repeating : unless you assume that readers of this blog will be familiar with your history (I am, as a reader of your posts and an occasional customer, but it doesn't mean everyone reading this post is), you have to be careful and cristal clear about how your business is set up !!!

As I've commented, Business hours for you can mean 2 things in your customers or potential customers heads, and you don't wan't them to think you're open when in fact you're closed or vice versa !

Therefore, you have to call those 2 sets of hours differently and refrain from using generic terms like "business hours". You'll save yourself some customer crankiness !...

Chbot
Chbot

Business hours for you means "concierge hours" and "office hours" : I hope you don't stop monitoring your customers flights after 7PM !!! You should differentiate those 2 set of hours clearly in all your communication, including this blog !

cedarglen1
cedarglen1

I must assume that this refers to acquiring NEW clients (or new trips from existing clients) rather than servicing those clients already in-process on a current trip.  (Those already in-process do receive 24/7 care, when necessary - I hope.  For those new trip clients, I don't see any problem with your current hours.  Please, just don't skimp on those who are already flying a trip!  IN the blub that I read, the distinction was not made clear and I sure hope there is a difference.  You will grow over time and you can re-visit this issue anytime it is necessary.  Best wishes, -C.

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