How to use Google Maps to boost your business

How to use Google Maps to boost your business

Do your customers want to know how long they’re likely to spend in your shop, or how busy it is right now? A feature from Google Maps is giving your customers information on how long they’ll wait to be served.


How it works

The Google Maps local listing page has a popular times section which now estimates how long people spend, on average, in a shop, café, or take-away. The estimates are either in minutes – such as 10 minutes – or in a time range – such as between 30 and 45 minutes. It also gives a bar chart graphic of popular times in a business, and tells customers what the status is likely to be now. For example, it might say not usually busy, or usually busy. The feature also gives opening hours, the address, phone number, and can even link to a menu. Customers can find shops and other businesses with the help of the map included in the feature, and a photograph of the exterior.

The source of the statistics is crowd-sourced information from the users of mobile devices. Google finds out where users are and uses that to build up a picture of how busy a business is at any time. Google has said that “the information is based on anonymised and aggregated visits to places from Google users who have opted-in to sharing location data.” The service works with browsers like Safari and Chrome, and was initially rolled out on Android devices. Google started giving people information about busy times in shops more than a year ago, but this new feature gives them the estimated time they’ll need to spend there.


How you could benefit

There are several potential benefits for savvy business owners – especially if your customers are pressed for time.

  • If you have a take-away coffee shop business, highlighting how quickly your customers are served is an excellent sales tools for you.
  • If your service time is good, why not highlight it on social media and share it with your followers?
  • Some may well choose your business over others where they will wait longer. Most people are picking up coffee on the way to work, or during a work break, and don’t have much time to spend on it.
  • Some businesses might find it useful to highlight times of the day when they are less busy.
  • Cafés and restaurants will be looking to attract customers at times when they are not already busy or fully booked.
  • Sharing those less busy times will encourage those seeking a quiet meal or drink to visit you.
  • Many shoppers also prefer to buy when stores aren’t packed out – telling them your less busy times will encourage those put off by Saturday or Christmas shopping crowds.
  • Publicising less busy times would also be useful for hairdressers, opticians, and chiropractors.
  • Gaining footfall in less busy times helps justify staffing, lighting, and heating costs – and improves profits.