Column: Hours of Operation Do Matter

Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director.
Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director

My husband and I were just discussing the new “relationship manager” at our bank. He’s the person assigned to make us feel special, the guy we can turn to when we have a question about our accounts or about the bank, or whatever.

We agreed he was a nice guy, but then I said (rather dourly, I admit), that he won’t be around very long because none of his predecessors had lasted more than a few months. Why? Our particular branch office, which is located near my home, is no longer open on Saturdays. (I know, right?) So say I wanted to invest a large sum of money in one of the bank’s funds, I’d have to take half a day off from work to partake in this special relationship I have with this bank employee to make the transaction.

To me, that’s as inconvenient as having to click through 10 times on a website to get to the story I want to read. It’s as bad as having to walk up three steep flights of stairs to get to a shop in SoHo. It’s on par with asking me to relinquish my most valuable asset, which is my time, and to give up what I enjoy when making an investment, which is a sense of spontaneity and freedom.

Inconvenient office hours are something consumers no longer want to deal with, unless it’s for a service we cannot get online or do ourselves, like having surgery or getting a broken tooth fixed. And even in those dire situations, if you’re like me, it’s agonizing to concede to someone else’s schedule. We can rarely negotiate office visits with someone who has skills that we don’t have that we really, really need. And I hate that.

Today I read about a new “Uber-style” service for tailors, launched by George Zimmer, that handsome guy on those Men’s Wearhouse TV commercials who would promise, “You’ll like the way you look,” if you shopped in his stores. Well, Zimmer has a new service that sources tailors who come to your residence, take your measurements and collect all those pieces of clothing hanging in the back of your closet, likely with the price tags still attached, waiting for that day when you lose those five pounds. The tailor whisks them away, custom fits them for you and brings them back to your house. And yes, there’s an app for this. Awesome, no?

Is this a business model a travel advisor could adapt? Before you say “no, and please shut up,” consider that the average tailor, according to The New York Times, makes about $38,000 a year, and that those interviewed say they can see this “zTailors” scheme doubling their earnings because they’re now much more accessible to the consumer. Have you ever looked for a good tailor? It’s as difficult for some as finding a good travel advisor. People just don’t know where to look for them and when they do find one, they don’t know how credible the service will be. Sound familiar?

If this is all just too far-fetched, do consider how accessible you are to the public and if there’s a way for you to be front and center when they’re making their travel plans. Imagine when they’re likely to be having that travel conversation with their partner. My guess is that it’s not 9 to 5 during the week. If your e-mail generates an “out-of-office” response on the weekend and in the evening, reconsider why you’re not generating the income you thought you would be when you got into this business.