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The QLess Blog

How to Lose Customers as Soon as They Walk In: From Diablo's Cantina

Oct 10 By Tim McCune | Categories: Other Industries
Standing in Line at Diablo's Cantina

 On a recent weekend, I was in Las Vegas, and my wife and I were playing poker at the Monte Carlo. It was about 9:30 pm, and we started talking about getting hungry, and figuring out if we knew any place close by to get some Mexican food and a decent margartia. The dealer overheard us and recommended Diablo's Cantina which was right on the corner of the hotel, with an outside door facing The Strip. So we cashed out and headed to dinner, arriving about 10:00.

Vegas never sleeps, of course, so the restaurant was packed. There was even a line of customers waiting to get on the wait list for a table. As we waited our turn, I overheard the conversation that the woman in front of me had with the hostess:

"It's about a 30 minute wait for a table."

"Ok, no problem."

"I just need your driver's license."

"Umm...why?"

"So I can give you this pager."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, sorry."

"Never mind, we'll find some place else."

That's right. Diablo's had apparently been spending so much money replacing lost coaster pagers, (JTech, by the way), that they decided they would rather lose customers who weren't comfortable turning over their driver's license just to wait for a table, than to keep forking over money to JTech for replacement pagers every time one went missing.

I gave the hostess my license when my turn arrived to get a pager, and asked her how often conversations like I had just listened to happen, with angry customers walking away because of this policy. "It happens all the time, but I don't understand why it's such a big deal." Rather than try to convince her that it was a big deal, I simply handed her my business card and said "I can help. My company sells a system called QLess that lets you use your customers' cell phones to page them when their table's ready. You'll never have to pay for a lost pager again, and you'll stop losing customers." She agreed to pass my card and my story on to the manager, and that was the end of that.

Let's count all of the ways that Diablo's Cantina screwed up in this story, and all of the ways that they are losing money:

  1. Well, the most obvious, losing customers who don't want to hand over their driver's license just to wait for a table. Our check was about $100. Even if only 10% of Diablo's customers walk away when asked for their license, (from what I saw the number was more like 50%), with an average party size of 3, this policy is costing them $15 per party in lost revenue.
  2. The range on their pagers was not even far enough to reach inside of the casino. We had to stand outside the door and people-watch while waiting for our table. Not that there's not some great people watching to be done at 10 pm in the middle of The Strip, but we would have rather been back inside the casino spending money. Diablo's could almost certainly get the Monte Carlo to subsidize a paging system that encourages customers to wait for a table inside the adjacent casino. The average quarter slots player spends $40 per hour. If their average party size is 3, and the average wait for a table is 30 minutes, even if only 10% of their customers choose to wait inside the casino and play slots, that's $6.00 per party in lost revenue.
  3. With QLess, instead of sending us to Diablo's to wait for a table, the dealer could have simply told us "you can call or text to put yourself on the wait list, so that you can keep playing poker while you wait for a table." At our table, the Monte Carlo poker room was making about $12 per hour from the rake from each of us. With our 30 minutes spent standing outside the restaurant waiting for a table, instead of at the poker table (where we would have rather been anyway), chalk up $12 in lost revenue in our case.

These are just the ways that Diablo's is screwing up beyond the typical restaurant that uses coaster pagers. There are plenty of other reasons why they should be using QLess instead, like increasing customers' patience while waiting for a table, better hygiene, fewer hostess hassles, SMS marketing, detailed analytics, more room for tables, the list goes on and on.

Diablo's, and Monte Carlo, if you're listening, we want to help! Give QLess Mobile Queuing a chance to set your customers free from those stupid coaster pagers, and let us prove how we can make you a 400% return on investment.

--Tim

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