Recently I was talking to a business owner who was unhappy about a steady decline in his business over the past couple years. I asked him basic questions like, how has his advertising been? And how has his customer service been? His marketing has been fairly effective — no problems there — and his customer service is rated by a third party company and has come back quite high. His prices are reasonable and the service he provides is actually a little better than his competitors. So why is his business declining?

I believe it's because he closes his shops at 6 pm. He works in the aftermarket auto parts industry. As he and I spoke, I asked him when his busiest times were. He said early morning and very late in the day. It's fairly quiet throughout the day and that is when he gets his work done.

That reminded me of another store where I was shopping recently… they didn't accept credit cards or debit cards; cash only. Unfortunately, for those of us who only carry plastic, they didn't offer an ATM. I was forced to leave and haven't been back.

It got me thinking… do we plan our business around our customers or ourselves? Do we close up shop just when our customers are getting off of work and heading to our store? Do we expect them to pay a certain way but make it hard for them to do so?

Ask your customers about your hours, your policies, your payment methods, and the convenience of your locations.