How One Major Coffee Chain Used Indoor Data to Improve Service, Slash Wait Times: An InnerSpace Study
Scene: 10:30 a.m., Tuesday morning, Sarah approaches a popular coffee chain in a small food court under a busy office complex.
She really wants a coffee before her next meeting that starts in 10 minutes. Does she have time? There’s a long line, and it looks like only one cash is open. She doesn’t want to be late for the meeting, and there’s no way to know how long it will take.
She keeps walking.
If you own that coffee franchise, you might not know how often that scenario plays out – or its subsequent business implications.
The long line, coupled with the perceived understaffing marks a major problem among quick-service restaurants where potential customers will “look and leave.” What’s worse is that there is often adequate staffing at the cash even when it doesn’t look like it.
So what’s happening here?
In reality, the second cash isn’t empty but rather temporarily abandoned by a cashier who sees the line growing and decides to help fill orders instead. This seems like the right thing to do to speed things along – but our data proves it causes slower service and longer wait times, In fact, we found it led to an incredible 27% average drop in service speed.
Enter stage right: indoor location technology
InnerSpace outfitted one such multinational coffee franchise with our indoor spatial intelligence platform. By studying customer traffic patterns, we wanted to uncover opportunities to improve operations and boost revenue by making data-driven adjustments.
Equipped with the world’s most accurate indoor location sensors, InnerSpace monitored wait times, speed of service and whether staff performed in their assigned roles (e.g. two work cash, one makes coffee, one preps bagels, etc.).
As it turned out, our analysis spoke volumes. The immediate impact on business would not be possible without the data to back it up.
Main act: what the data showed
Analyzing how staff perform their tasks and how customers respond to those operations presents a unique opportunity to transform operations. So much so, that InnerSpace was able to help this location improve operations by a whopping 35%.
The major change we identified was the need for cashiers to remain on cash even when their natural inclination is to step away and help to fulfill orders. It’s counterintuitive, but it actually slows things down. Instead, staying focused on taking orders, meant:
Improved speed of service: Staff were able to fill 35 additional transactions each hour during peak times. This translates to more than $1,000/day in additional revenue.
Reduced wait times: Faster service meant shorter and faster-moving lineups for customers. Long wait times (those over 12 minutes) dropped 20%, while short wait times (under 3 minutes) rose by 8%.
Reduced look-and-leaves: Lines that move quickly mean potential customers stayed. We observed a 56% decrease in look-and-leaves during the busiest cafe times – a conservative estimate.
Clearly, the “stay in your lane” approach to staffing operations leads to better outcomes for the business and for customers. So how can companies reinforce the importance of each team member’s role? And how can they turn this knowledge into real-world results?
The final scene: putting knowledge to use
Real-time data can inform operations, improve customer experience, and bolster the reputation and performance of a business. For example:
- Real Time Alerts: InnerSpace delivers real-time alerts to supervisors when compliance to assigned roles drops below an ideal threshold. Managers can then step in and help the team to get back on track during a rush.
- Digital Signage: Since customers often overestimate wait times when lines appear long (but in fact are fast-moving), it’s prudent to set expectations. Our platform feeds digital signage to display wait times, thus improving the customer experience and preventing the “look-and-leave.”
- Staffing and Coaching: Strategic adjustments to teams and their roles drove 16% improved service rates and 5% reduced wait times during rushes. By seeing service averages over time, franchises can use data to implement changes that will work – and help their managers identify opportunities for coaching and scheduling that leads to optimal team performance.
Using indoor location to improve daily operations means putting tools into the hands of both customers, employees and managers to make informed decisions. With InnerSpace, our food and beverage retail solutions help improve performance and sales, while keeping customers informed and satisfied by their service. When a business relies on high customer turnover and fast sales, small changes can have dramatic impact.