Nothing tastes better than a hot dog at a ballgame, popcorn at the movies, or a cold beverage at a scorching amusement park. But if guests are left idling by waiting fort heir order, they may be unsatisfied. What are some tips for reducing concession stand wait times?

You’ve got the right product at the right price in the right location at the right time. But potential customers could be walking away. Why? Because the line is too long! 

No one wants to waste time in a concessions line, especially if that means missing out on the premier event/attraction they’ve paid big coin to experience. 

Long lines will impact sales and can lead customers to associate purchasing concessions with a negative experience of waiting, according to an Oracle study. It found that 45% of fans have given up waiting in line for food and drink at a sports venue. If wait times were cut in half, 59% of fans said they would spend more on concessions. Ten minutes was the maximum acceptable wait time to buy food and drinks, according to the study. 

So what can you do to keep those lines down and help customers get back to the action faster? We put together some tips for reducing concession stand wait times. Check them out below. 

8 Tips for Reducing Concession Stand Wait Times

1. Have the right equipment. Determine how many servings are sold per hour and the capacity of your current equipment. Upgrade the machine if it’s too small to handle the volume of orders. Or opt for a larger machine at a central location versus smaller equipment at each location.

Also make sure all equipment is up to date and well maintained and that power sources are reliable and functioning. 

2. Staff appropriately. Understaffing can cause major problems, not only with how long people stand in line, but with the stress levels of employees. Having plenty of people on hand makes for faster lines, happier staff, and more satisfied customers. Training staff in the areas that are needed most will reduce congestion. If you need to boost your staffing levels, contact ConcessionStaff, which focuses solely on facility and event staffing.

3. Change the way the line works. Some concession stands have separate lines for food and drink. This way customers who just want a beverage don’t have to wait behind people who are waiting for food that takes longer to prepare. One stadium noticed a 50% reduction in wait times when they implemented this strategy. They also had a “captain” for each stand who directed customers into the appropriate line.

Consider breaking down lines into one with cashiers and one for pick-up, which can improve customers’ perception of the wait time. Customers who have to wait 10 minutes in line before ordering feel more dissatisfied than a customer who waits 10 minutes for their order, even if the total service time for both customers is the same, according to a study by the Journal of Consumer Behaviour.

4. Review and revise menu as needed. Strike a balance between grab-and-go or prepackaged food with items that may take more preparation time. List out how much time it takes to prepare each item and make sure it’s a balanced variety, so staff isn’t overwhelmed at peak times. Adding this level of transparency can help attendees make more informed decisions.

5. Use mobile POS tablets. When lines are getting really lengthy, break out the point-of-sale mobile tablets. Have workers walk the line, taking orders with a mobile unit. Once customers place their orders they can step out of line and move up to the stand for order pick up. This can prevent the appearance of lines, which will help other customers perceive service as faster.

6. Add self-service kiosks. If you want something more permanent than a mobile tablet, use a self-service kiosk. Customers have more control over their order and may spend more. Staff can focus on providing customer service rather than taking accurate orders in a noisy and chaotic environment.

There are several examples where implementing self-service kiosks have boosted sales. For example, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (home of the NFL’s New England Patriots) added a self-service kiosk for beer. Customers can order and pour their own beer with an automated system. Staff can focus on ensuring IDs are properly checked and that the line is moving smoothly. This is a great way to be reducing concession stand wait times.

7. Consider portable vendors. Bring concessions to the crowd by setting up sellers in front of seat sections with a limited section of treats or have them walk around with drinks and prepackaged snacks. Make sure they have brightly colored shirts or signs so they can be easily spotted in a crowd.

8. Add mobile ordering/payment. Several apps and services are available to allow customers to order and pay for their concessions using their phones, skipping the line altogether. They pick up the food and drinks from the stand when they are ready. Some venues also provide mobile ordering with seat delivery. Customers spend 25% more on mobile orders versus walk-up ordering and they tend to order more frequently, according to FanFood, which provides app and web-based ordering solutions.

Follow these suggestions to start reducing concession stand wait times. Our tips will help you keep those lines short and the concessions flowing so your customers leave with a fond memory of their outing and positive feelings about your food and drinks.