5 Strategies for Reducing Customer Wait Times
How to Respond to Long Wait Times
All foodservice venues know that the more customers you can serve in the quickest amount of time without sacrificing quality, the better. Yet, the truth is that longer-than-desired wait times are a reality. When properly addressed, there are ways to not only reduce customer wait times but also keep waiting customers happy. Whether you run a concession stand, restaurant, grocery, or another foodservice location, these five strategies can help improve your customer experience.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Going to the movie theater concession stand is one place you may encounter lines. It can be a time-consuming process and sometimes deters guests from making a purchase. Seeking a solution to get popcorn into more hands in a timely fashion, enter the commercial popcorn dispenser, ReadyServe®. The staff saves time by no longer having to scoop popcorn into bags or buckets. Meanwhile, guests get to enjoy the novelty experience of a self-serve station, serving up popcorn with just the push of a button. Not to mention, it is more convenient and sanitary than other options.
This same concept can apply to smaller locations, such as bars or concession stands that serve popcorn. A commercial popper and self-serve station in one is available in two sizes: the 16-oz ReadyPop® or 8-oz ReadyPop® Jr.
Investing in technology means optimizing your equipment. One example of this is with fryers. A ribbon element has a faster recovery time between cooking loads when compared to a tubular element. This means if you are making funnel cakes, you can make more in a faster amount of time. (Learn more about commercial fryers in our Buyers Guide.) Keep this principle in mind no matter what type of equipment you are considering. Sometimes the technology may cost more up front, but it yields a better return in the long term.
Samples Will Sell
Free samples can improve your business! This is a lesson that grocery stores are known for implementing successfully. Samples occupy your customers while waiting. Plus, it gives them a chance to try a new product. Grocery stores use this philosophy at the deli and/or bakery counters. Just a taste can be all it takes to lure an individual and encourage them to make a purchase. (Find out more about free samples and grocery marketing here.)
In an article from the New York Post, retail consultant Burt Flickinger says, “Stores like sampling because it makes people hungry and they buy more as a result.” This works in settings outside the grocery store too, like stadiums, concession stands, or popcorn shops.
Sampling can be used in a variety of different ways. Test out a new flavor, promote an underperforming item, or publicize a seasonal product. Not only that, but psychologically, giving something for free can improve a customer’s mood. So, to help with longer wait times, have samples available.
Your Menu Matters
A well-thought-out menu can engage customers and add to sales. When waiting in line, customers don’t need the added frustration of a cumbersome menu. A poorly executed menu can ultimately lead to a loss of business. So, how can you create a menu that works for you?
A menu is more than just a list. Think of it strategically. Which items are key to promote? Top sellers, new items, and combos or specials should be highlighted. Be creative and make it visually appealing. Yet remember to keep it organized with categories that are intuitive. Evaluate your menu selections periodically to determine which items are performing best and adjust your strategy accordingly. (Get additional menu insights in our blog.)
Beyond your actual menu board, put up signage for specific items to drive more sales. Handing out coupons is another way you can help ease the burden of extended wait times. It gives the customer an incentive to wait, while also may encourage additional purchases. Lastly, digital menu boards can offer the ability to integrate video or graphics, so your messaging can be more extensive. Plus, it offers a distraction to waiting customers.
While freshly made products offer distinct advantages like higher profit margins, increased audience engagement, and the ability to make signature offerings, it also can mean more labor. But you don’t have to give up on offering fun food favorites like cotton candy or caramel corn. Expanding your concession food offerings to serve customers’ needs can still be done with the help of prepackaged solutions.
Prepackaged foods provide operators and customers convenience. Wait times decrease significantly when there is little to no prep involved. Another added benefit is waste reduction. As you can store prepacked and sell at a later date.
Gold Medal offers a line of gourmet popcorn flavors, as well as nachos and cheese, soft pretzels, and cotton candy. Plus, there is also the option that you can make your own product and prepackage it yourself. (Explore why venues choose prepackaged.)
Mobile Serving Stations
For locations that are large in size, such as amusement parks and stadiums, it makes sense to offer mobile serving stations in addition to your traditional concession stand. Strategically place them where crowds naturally gather. As an example, a Sno-Kone® setup would work great near water attractions. Or imagine a popcorn station at a baseball stadium. These stands do not offer all the menu items but instead focus on top-sellers that are in high demand. This reduces wait times plus gives guests more exposure to your location’s most popular menu items.
Shop Gold Medal’s mobile serving stations for popcorn, cotton candy, and shave ice.
The fact is nobody likes to wait. So, countering long wait times is something to be proactive about no matter what type of business you are in. Take time to plan now how you can make your customer experience even better. Our concession specialists are here to help! Contact your nearest Gold Medal distributor by accessing our Find A Dealer page.