From Chaos to Calm: 4 Tips For Managing Concession Stand Lines

There is an art and science to managing concession stand lines. The more efficient your concession stand, the more money you stand to make. That’s facts. 

Sometimes, a long line is unavoidable. Your stand might be the only purveyor of fried dough. Or it’s the 7th Inning Stretch and the entire stadium decided they are hungry. But, even in those most dire of circumstances, there are some tips you can try that will make your line run much more efficiently, making everyone happier. 

According to an Oracle study, “59% of fans would spend more on concessions if their wait time were cut in half. In fact, 10 minutes was the maximum acceptable wait time to buy food and drinks according to those surveyed which is why 74 percent said they would like to pick up an order from an express line at a concession stand if offered.” Here’s what you can try at your concession stand right now:

1. Shake Up The Status Queue

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” Einstein said that. And it tracks. If you are constantly dealing with long lines and cranky customers, it’s time to assess your process and try doing something different. Take a look at each aspect of your operations. Can you pinpoint what’s the hold-up? Here are some potential pain points that could be slowing down your concessions lines: 

  • Your equipment is not functioning properly. Food is taking longer to prepare. Make sure all equipment is properly maintained, updated if old, and cleaned routinely. 
  • Your order/ cash-out process is inefficient. You may need to open more lines for order taking. 
  • Not enough staff. You may need to hire more people or put more employees on each shift to ensure enough people can prepare food, take orders, and keep everything clean.
  • There is an issue with your physical layout. Reassess where you have people lining up and how you have equipment set up so there is good flow in front and back of house. Can you have separate lines for food and drinks? 

2. Rethink Your Menu

I know, I know. You’ve probably put a lot of time and effort into planning your concessions menu. But is it really, truly working for you and your customers? If some menu items take too long and are contributing to longer wait times and the inability to serve customers in a reasonable amount of time, you may need to strike those items from your menu. If you don’t have it in you to remove those items, balance them out with grab-and-go menu items and a healthy dose of items that your staff can pre-package or grab quickly such as hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos

3. Upgrade Concession Equipment

Is it taking way too long for your nacho cheese to warm up? Does your slushie machine keep breaking down and disappointing thirsty Slush Puppie fans? Are your machines big enough to keep up with demand? If food prep due to faulty equipment is slowing down your lines, reign in the madness with upgrades to your existing equipment. You can also give yourself and your hungry customers the gift of a Gold and Silver Preventive Maintenance Program to help you keep your equipment up and running efficiently all year long.

4. Technology Is Your Friend

You know what people love? Ordering things on their phones. Plus, they might even order more. Adding mobile technology to your ordering process could cut your line (and the number of hangry customers) down significantly. According to that Oracle study, “68% were highly interested in using a mobile application to order food and beverage, and 63% said they would use a self-service kiosk, mobile app or tablet for purchases.” Whether you enlist the help of a mobile ordering app or a kiosk, allowing customers to skip the line and pick up their food from an express pick-up lane when ready will be a total game changer. Be sure to staff your concession stand appropriately to accommodate both mobile and in-person orders and have a pick-up procedure that ensures the right people get the right order. Your customers will appreciate not having to miss any portion of the event they paid good money to see.