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« Hotel robbery | Main | Going to meetings »

Waiting in line

The airport in Las Vegas is at maximum capacity. It's jammed. There is a line for everything, even the men's room.

What amazed me, though, was the line ten or twelve deep at the food concessions. People were waiting ten minutes or longer to buy a bottle of water for $2.59 or a yogurt for a few dollars.

All day, every day. A line.

On the way home from the airport I called an organization that sells $500 training programs to businesses. Even though I was trying to reach someone that worked there, I was calling in on the orders line (the only number I had). I waited 15 minutes to talk to a real person.

Think about that.

In both cases, this is the last step of a very expensive chain. It's expensive to rent that space in the airport. Expensive to outfit it. Expensive to bring in all the supplies. It's expensive to build a training business, expensive to have the outbound marketing, the brochures, the events worth talking about.

The last step, though, that's cheap. The last step, the step where someone actually takes your money--it's not just cheap, it's nothing but incremental profit.

It amazed me that no one had bothered to look a the concessions at the airport. To do simple things, like change the pricing so that with tax, everything came out evenly--no need to make change. Or to change the product line up, eliminating the items that take five times as long to prepare. Never mind the more creative things, like having an employee working the line, taking orders in advance and bringing back change so that the person at the counter could work three or four times faster...

And what about the training company? This is classic business-to-business order taking, and I'm unable to think of one reason that you don't get a human being on the first ring. No auto attendant, no queue. Just a person, ready to answer the phone. Even one non-lost order a day pays for an entire person's salary.

It's difficult to cost-reduce yourself to growth.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Waiting in line:

» Because They Can, and They'll Keep Buying from LandingTheDeal
On this edition of the Seth Godin Post-Game Show: Lines. Big lines. At the airport, specifically...in Las Vegas. I fly in and out of there on connections quite frequently, so I'm familiar with the lines of which Seth speaks... [Read More]

» Bottlenecks in Buying from Lean Blog
Another thought provoking post from Seth Godin. Although he doesn't write about lean, think about the examples he gives: Lack of "order taking" capacity (in two examples), leads to lost revenue (and/or the wasting of customers' time). Also, why don't... [Read More]

» Waiting in Line, Death and Perspective from The Messaging Times
I ATTENDED THE FUNERAL of a young woman from my neighborhood today. She was only in her thirties and had six young children. Without fail, such events cause me to put things into perspective. My small battles with discomfort, injustice, frustration and... [Read More]

» Ambience, Creativity, And Accessibility Enhance The Customer Service Experience from Customer Service Experience
Tim Whelan, at Customer Service, What????? writes about an experience he had at a restaurant and how other businesses could learn from that “total customer experience." It’s important to make the customer relaxed and comfortable which provides the “fir... [Read More]

» Seth Sees Queues from Agile Management Blog
Seth Godin has been seeing queues all over LAX. He's also been describing the capacity constrained resources and the exploitation schemes that would increase the throughput. [Read More]

» USA TODAY Archives Search from USA Search Engine Optimization
Up-to-the-minute business & financial news, current market information, feature stories, personal finance and investment tools to help investors choose and ... [Read More]

» A Few Lines About Lines from How to Save the World
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