Friday, April 17th, 2020 .

When coronavirus hit America, some side-eyed the “essential” classification for medical marijuana dispensaries and those that support them, like grow sites and edible producers. Of course, if you own or run a dispensary, you know better.

An estimated 3 million people in the U.S. and its territories depend on medical marijuana. Because a large percentage of dispensary customers already have compromised immune systems, it’s especially important for businesses to protect shoppers.

Waitlist Me is helping do exactly that during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s how some cannabis businesses are using our waitlist and reservation app to keep their doors open and their customers safe.

Enforce occupancy restrictions

If your dispensary is scant on square-space, consider creating a restriction on the number of people allowed inside your business at one time. Station a staff member outside to function as crowd control—and to add customers to your waitlist—and another employee inside, behind the counter. You’ll be able to provide excellent one-on-one service while still protecting those that matter most: your employees and your customers.

Tip: Use Waitlist Me’s text notification feature to encourage guests to wait in their cars. Reassure them that their place in line is secure, and that you’ll send them a text when it’s their turn to go inside.

Encourage social distancing and touchless service

With scores of new customers coming in the door—not to mention the new products on offer—questions abound for cannabis industry pros. And that’s the way it should be! But a queue for customer service isn’t a safe situation during a pandemic.

To avoid a cluster at your counter, add the Waitlist Me widget to your website. Direct customers to add themselves to your waitlist from their phone, so they can start the waiting process while en route to your store or wait in the parking lot from their car.  

Tip: Head off ETA questions right at the start by adding the link to your dispensary’s public waitlist to your website. That way, people can check their place in line with just a single glance. Or use the web widget features to show how many people are currently waiting.

Make pickup as quick and easy as possible

Even though it’s nice to get out of the house during these difficult times, those you serve still want to make their trips in public as speedy as possible. To help them do that, encourage customers to make an appointment to shop or to add themselves to your waitlist before they arrive. Waitlist Me’s web widget lets them do both. When they check in, they can specify what the goal of their shopping trip is (i.e. to refill a prescription, pick up an online order, or shop for a certain type of product) so your employees can expedite their visit.

Waitlist Me Pro users can even use our flexible two-way texting feature to respond to customer questions, clarify details, or let someone know if their prescription isn’t ready yet.

Tip: Upgrade your curbside pick-up with contact-free service, which will be a boon for your immune-compromised customers. Update the custom text notifications to include pick-up directions, like where to park and to roll down a passenger window for no-touch delivery.

Monday, April 13th, 2020 .

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated just how important it is for businesses to manage what we used to consider minor details: the spaces we occupy, the items we touch, and the people we come into contact with.

But for manufacturers, distributors, and logistics professionals, there’s no detail too small to be optimized—and that’s been true for far longer than the modern world has combatted highly contagious illnesses like COVID-19, SARS, or Swine Flu. Since the 1960s, supply chains and production lines around the globe have adopted a leaner operation. It’s called just-in-time manufacturing, or JIT. 

What is JIT?

Just-in-time manufacturing is built on the principles popularized by Toyota’s production processes in Japan. It’s also known as continuous-flow or demand-flow manufacturing.

No matter the name, its goal is the same: JIT seeks to make production more efficient by ensuring that materials and finished products are always in transit rather than sitting around, waiting to be used. This decreases business overhead because goods in this system require less storage space.

It also makes for a smoother production process. Raw materials arrive the moment they are needed. Finished goods are shipped out as soon as they’re completed. There’s no lag time, no costly delays, and no square footage going to waste.

How to use just-in-time principles to fight COVID-19 (and improve your customer’s waiting experience)

Other businesses, from retail stores to restaurants, doctor’s offices to mechanic shops can put the principles that power JIT to work for both their bottom line and the overall safety and satisfaction of their customers. Watilist Me is a simple tool to make some of these concepts easy to implement.

Here are five ways your business can use Waitlist Me today to smooth out the kinks in your waiting process:

  1. Let customers wait elsewhere. Waitlist Me makes it simple to text customers when ready for them and see their replies. That means you customers don’t need to be crowded in a waiting area. They can wait in their car or somewhere nearby. 
  2. Keep queuers in the know. Our public waitlist feature lets your customers check their spot in line from their smartphone. With just a few taps, they can see their ETA and plan their arrival at your business just in time to be served.
  3. Add guests on the go. With the add-yourself web widget, individuals can hop on your waitlist from wherever they are, whether that’s home, in transit, or in the car in your parking lot.
  4. Educate customers on pick-up policies. When you add someone to your queue, Waitlist Me can send an automatic text confirmation. You can customize the information in this text to include coronavirus-specific instructions, like how to facilitate your no-contact pick-up service.
  5. Confirm details using two-way texting. Waitlist Me Pro and Platinum allow businesses to send custom text responses to their customers. You can use this feature to clarify orders, pick-up instructions, or any other questions guests may have.

Friday, April 10th, 2020 .

Nobody knows better than our pandemic first responders how important it is these days to safeguard patients and healthcare workers. Doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and medical centers are also taking new steps to ensure the safety of their patients and staff. 

Waitlist Me makes it easy to improve waiting experiences and cut down on crowds and lines.  Here are some ways doctor’s offices and medical facilities are using our waitlist and reservation app during the coronavirus crisis.

#1. Make waiting safer for everyone

The fewer people you have in your waiting room, the better, whether social distancing policies are in place or not. From restaurants offering take-out to retailers promoting curbside pick-up, there’s been a tremendous uptick in businesses encouraging customers to spend as little time as possible inside their brick-and-mortar locations.

Healthcare facilities can do the same. When patients arrive for their appointments, they can be added to your waitlist and asked to wait in their cars until they can be seen by a medical professional. When a doctor, nurse, or P.A. is ready for them, simply send them a text alert to let them know to come inside.  Some places are even doing simpler screenings or check ups in the cars to avoid patients having to come inside at all.  

#2. Decrease the amount of contact required

With highly contagious illnesses like coronavirus spreading through cities like wildfire, office staff must be cautious about all the little things that were standard just a month ago, like sharing pens, passing clipboards, and opening doors.

Limiting contact between individuals, whether they’re patients, caregivers, or administrators, is key. Automating doors is one way to upgrade your office with an eye toward the future. Going digital with your paperwork is another. It also has the added benefits of decreasing in-office wait times and freeing up staff from data entry tasks.

With our add-yourself web widget, you can add Waitlist Me to this list of helpful no-contact improvements. Patients can check themselves in using their smartphones from anywhere and receive a confirmation message.  Text them when you are ready and you can even view their replies if they are running a few minutes late or letting you know when they have arrived. With Waitlist Me Pro there are also options to send custom responses to the texts patients send, like to reply with an update on the estimated wait remaining.

#3. Improve the overall waiting experience

We’re pretty sure no one really enjoys sitting in waiting rooms for their turn to see a physician. Flipping through months-old magazines amid who-knows-what illnesses? That’s not anyone’s idea of a good time.

Many offices are using Waitlist Me’s online features that can be viewed in phone browsers to give patients more control over how long—and where—they wait. With the widget, individuals can check in for their appointments (or for open clinic hours) from the comfort of their homes. Then, they can check the public waitlist feature to ensure a timely arrival when a healthcare provider is ready to see them. The public waitlist lets them know how many people are ahead of them in line and how long the estimated queue time is.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 .

With stay-at-home orders the law of the land in most cities and states across America, dining out is quickly becoming a distant memory. But delivery and take-out? Restaurants from Tacoma to Charleston are figuring out how to keep their kitchens open, and Waitlist Me is helping with this process. 

Waitlist Me is the waitlist and reservation app that’s intuitive to get started and start using within a few minutes. It’s built for people, not techies, so you can learn it in minutes. We made sure that Waitlist Me isn’t just easy to use; our entire service is user-friendly, from usage (unlimited on multiple device) to customer service (prompt and friendly) to billing (simple and transparent, guaranteed). And it’s flexible enough to use on different devices in different business environments. You can install the Waitlist Me business app on Android and iOS devices, and use it in a browser on computers. 

Here are a few tips on how restaurants can use Waitlist Me’s features to keep their kitchens open, their employees working, and their customers well-fed during the coronavirus crisis.

#1. Manage a smoother pick up process 

Under normal circumstances, you would use Waitlist Me’s text notifications to alert guests once they’re added to your restaurant’s waitlist and again when their table is ready. During the COVID-19 pandemic, though, you can customize them in another way: Use the first notification to confirm an order. Send the second notification to let customers know when their order is ready and waiting for them.

Bonus: Thanks to our public waitlist feature, guests can also check on their order and see their estimated wait time. That way, they can plan their arrival based on where they are on the list. 

#2. Communicate simple no-contact pick-up instructions

Head off panicked phone calls and take-out containers that go cold before their ride arrives. How? By using Waitlist Me’s customization features to share your pick-up policies with your guests. These could include asking your customers to pop their trunks to facilitate no-contact pick-up, or to direct them to a particular area to gather their order.

We recommend adding these instructions to your…

– Website order form or Waitlist Me’s add-yourself web widget, which customers will see when they submit their orders

– First notification text, which you’ll send to confirm the order

– Second notification text, which will let guests know when their order is ready for pick-up

Bonus: Because Waitlist Me’s interface is a cinch to navigate on any internet-enabled device, you can update your instructions in seconds.

#3. Improve communications with two-way texting

Waitlist Me makes it easy to keep track of how long people have been waiting and when you have sent them notifications. You can also see when people reply with text responses and what they say.  There are a couple built in behaviors triggered in the app that are usually used to cause different parts of the app to flash if a customer is coming soon or cancelling. These can be repurposed in other ways, like for knowing when customers arrive, by changing the instructions in the text notifications. 

Waitlist Me Pro has a two-way texting feature that allows you to send open text responses to customer texts. You can answer questions, specify details on their order, and keep them updated on when their food is expected to leave the kitchen.

Tip: To ensure prompt pick-ups, ask your guests to text you their car model and color. That way, you can run their food out to them without second-guessing whose take-out bag belongs with which vehicle.

Those are several things we have seen helping with take-out and pickups, and not just for restaurants. Similar strategies are being applied for picking up products and waiting for services at other businesses.

Saturday, March 21st, 2020 .

These are challenging times with the spreading of the coronavirus. Many businesses are being forced to close their doors or to change the ways they do business to continue serving people.

Asking customers and patients to wait in their cars is gaining popularity as a better alternative than waiting inside businesses. Curbside service has taken on a whole new significance across multiple industries.

Waitlist Me makes it easy to track who is next in line to be served and then press a button to send a text notification when you are ready for them, so people can wait in their cars until it is their turn. There are also options for people to add themselves to the waitlist without even having to leave their car.

Here are some of the industries using Waitlist Me to provide better wait experiences in new ways:

Healthcare Facilities – Medical offices, urgent care centers, dental offices, eyecare centers, and hospitals are some examples where patients often wait in confined areas and may be afraid of getting sick from others. Allowing them to wait outside or in their cars helps to limit cross-infections for patients and healthcare workers.

Dispensaries – As this Forbes article aptly points out, “It should go without saying that medical cannabis patients are the most vulnerable cannabis consumers, and the most at risk of serious complications from Covid-19.” Social distancing strategies like curbside pickup can help reduce the risk to these patients. Even for non-patients, waiting in the car can be better for limiting the number of people in the store at a time or avoiding the need to go into the store at all.

Veterinary and Animal Services – With people spending more time at home and the elevated stress-levels caused by the crisis, pets are going to be an even bigger focus than ever. Vet clinics, animal shelters, and humane centers can keep visitors and staff safer by not having too many customers waiting inside their businesses.

Restaurants – For those restaurants that don’t have to close altogether, shifting to delivery and curbside pick-ups so customers don’t have to leave their cars can be a way to continue serving their clients.

Blood Donation – With people more reluctant to leave their houses, blood supplies have declined. Making it easier to schedule an appointment and wait outside can help encourage more people it is safe to donate blood.

Supply Stores – While many retail stores are closing, some types of supply stores will be important for builders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and others that perform important home and automotive services. These stores can reduce crowds and offer more touchless systems for picking up supplies.

Grocery Stores – People will continue to need groceries and safe ways to shop. Some grocery stores are already moving towards limiting the number of people in the store at any given time to keep aisles clearer. When a customers finish shopping, the next customers are texted to invite them inside.

People don’t like crowded wait areas, even in the best of times. These days social distancing requires an even higher standard of avoiding crowds, and letting customers and patients wait in their cars can be a valuable option for businesses to provide.