Long lines are one of those things we consider a “good problem to have”. Unfortunately, long lines can be a frustration for your guests and not a good way to start their fun day at the farm. Here are some tips to keep those lines moving.
1. Good Signage
Be sure you have easy-to-read signs at your check-in area. Not just at the cash register but in several places that can be easily seen from the lines so customers can be more prepared when it is their turn to pay.
2. Limited Options
Keep it Simple. Don’t have too many combo packages or options. Studies have shown that limiting options to 3 or less is the sweet spot in situations such as these. Lines get slowed down when the customer has questions about what they are getting for the different options. It is OK to have options, just make them simple to understand and clearly stated on your signs.
3. Greeter with Info Board
One of the things that we implemented at our venues from Day 1 was an information board that was manned with one or more staff members during our peak times. These were located near the lines so that we greet our guests, go over any pricing and activities and maze rules, and then answer any questions they might have. This really helped speed up the check-in process as it eliminated the #1 reason for slow-down – Questions. We did a How-To video on building a portable information board which you will find HERE.
4. Online Ticket Options
If you are a busy maze that struggles with keeping your line queues short and you don’t have an online ticketing system, it’s time to get one. Not only does an online system increase sales by giving your guests the ability to buy tickets immediately through your social media marketing and other electronic marketing efforts but it makes check in extremely fast and efficient for those guests as all the money has already exchanged hands.
5. Specialized Lines
You can have a credit card only line or an online ticket only line.Having these specialized lines during peak times can process your guests quicker.Those that see the online ticket check-in lines going fast will be encouraged to take advantage of that the next time they come.
6. Efficient Staff
Be sure to have the right staff in these key locations. Your staff at these locations need to be: friendly, able to multi-task, good with numbers, trust-worthy, and fast. In my venues, this position usually paid higher than the others due to the specific skill set I wanted at the cash register. If you realize you have someone working the register that doesn’t have the required skills, make a staffing change even at the expense of some hurt feelings.
7. Mobile Units
Mobile units are great for those situations where you don’t have any more room for cash registers or need to open another gate by your remote parking area.These would typically be credit card only but can be a big help in reducing your lines.They are simply a scanning device attached to a phone or tablet and now you have another way to check-in customers from anywhere you have cell reception.We will talk more about this in an upcoming post about using technology in Agritourism.
8. Keep Supplies Handy
This may seem like a “no-brainer” but things like lots of extra working pens, rolls of coins, cash register tape, wrist-bands or tickets, etc.. should all be kept well-stocked.You don’t want your clerks trying to figure out where the extra cash register tape is when you have a line of 40 people waiting.
A fast and efficient check-in process is the key to getting a guest’s visit started off right. It is tempting to get cheap on staffing for critical areas such as this but the payroll savings is not worth the down-side of a lengthy and disorganized check-in process. Keep those lines moving and your customers smiling!