Don't Make Parents Do This at Church (they hate it)

I hate waiting in line.

Are you like me?  When you're pushing your cart toward the check-out lines at a store, you scan to see which line is the shortest.  I don't know anyone who looks for the longest line to get in.

And how many times have you asked how long the wait is at a restaurant, found out it was 20-30 minutes, and went somewhere else?

A recent study by Columbia University showed that a line of 10 people can have a large impact on purchases and increasing the length from 10 to 15 customers leads to a 10% drop in sales.

We hate waiting in lines...even at church.

Here's some steps you can take to ensure parents aren't "hating the wait" at your church.

See how long parents are having to wait in line.
Get in line with a timer and actually time the wait.  How long is it?  30 seconds?  3 minutes?

Look for ways to cut down the wait time.
What are some small tweaks you can make that will cut down the wait time?  Putting the preschool take home papers on the wall outside the classroom?  Stapling elementary papers together so you're only handing parents one thing instead of three things?  Having coats and jackets ready?

Create more lines.
No wonder we have to wait in line at Wal-Mart or Target.  They normally only have 2 out of 100 check-out lines open.  Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but there is some truth to it.

Not sure why they build all those check-out stations...they only use a small percentage of them. (perhaps they could take the money saved from building unused check-out stations and buy some carts that don't go "clank, clank, clank" while you're pushing them.  Can I get an amen?)

The point is this.  If your lines are getting long, then create more lines.  Have two people checking out kids instead of one.  Have 4 check-in kiosks instead of 2.

Remember that unoccupied time seems longer than occupied time. 
Frustration comes primarily from being "aware" that time is passing.  Parents who have nothing to do but check their watches in line will be more frustrated.

What are some things you can do to help occupy parent's time while they're in line that will help take their mind off the wait?

Put a video monitor with scrolling announcements or trivia that is visible from the lines?  Theaters do this with the pre-roll before the movie starts.  Disney does this in their lines.

Talk to parents while they are waiting in line.  I like to walk up and down the line and spend a few seconds with parents while they are waiting.  It's a great opportunity to connect and build relationships.

Train your team to pull "line stopping" situations to the side. 
There are times when a parent needs to talk, an incident report needs to be signed, an issue needs to be addressed or a parent has questions.

These should not happen in line, but to the side, so the line is not slowed down.

Train your team to smile and be friendly.  Once you get to the door, being greeted by a smiling, caring, friendly volunteer helps soften the wait they just experienced.  Being greeted by a moody, negative volunteer amplifies the frustration they have felt waiting in line. 

Bottom line:  The longer the line, the lower the parent's positive reaction to the experience.  I want to challenge you to take a hard look at your line lengths and then take steps to shorten it.

Remember, the parent standing in line may be giving this "God thing" a try for the first-time.  Make sure a frustrating wait in line isn't a hindrance.