MY TOP 5 LINE MANAGEMENT TIPS - By Jane Harding
We’ve all been there, the super busy events where you have an instant crowd of customers and multiple lines form all at once! You then have to become referee and undoubtedly upset someone by insisting everyone forms ONE LINE! Eek! Line management is probably the most stressful part of our job.
The list of line management challenges really is endless, and I’m sure I could provide lots of examples and suggestions of things I do and have tried, but for now, I thought I’d give you my top 5 tips that help me keep line management as peaceful as possible!
BE PREPARED – The first thing I do when I arrive at a venue is look at the space I have been allocated and plan where the best place is for my kit to go, purely with crowd control and line management in mind. If I can position myself so there is only one direction for the line to go then that’s great, however sometimes it’s not so obvious, so I try to use walls, chairs, my banners and A Board to create a start point and always tell the first few people which direction I want them to line up, so hopefully everyone follows suit!
CLEAR SIGNAGE – I am a huge believer in having minimal but clear signage. A sign to say “Line Starts Here” with an arrow is always helpful. Remember, too many signs become overwhelming and then people won’t read them. But not having enough signs opens you up to difficult and potentially hostile confrontations from people who have been in line for 45 mins, to then find out you don’t paint children under 3 yrs and their child is 2 yrs! Arrgghhhh… I think it’s always better to have that sign in clear view, that way you can easily sympathise with the customer, but they can also easily see the signs and therefore have to take some responsibility for themselves because they hadn’t read the information available to them.
NEXT IN LINE – I often use one of my A Boards to indicate where the line will start with a small arrow shaped sign, however depending on the type of event, I also use my “Next in Line Mat” or simply use one or two chairs. The chair system I find works especially well for birthday parties. I have a chair for the child I am currently painting to sit in, then just to the side of that I line up one or two spare chairs. Because I want the children attending the party to have fun, rather than stand in my line for 2 hours waiting to be painted, I tell them to play and when they see an empty chair they can come and sit in it. This enables me to keep painting without having to search for children, but also keeps the parents happy, as the last thing they want is for 30 children to stand in a line for 2 hours!
REGULAR CHECKS – Honestly this is something I do find hard, mainly because I get so in the zone of painting, I forget to look up! But it really is helpful to put your head up every 10 mins or so, just to check what’s happening with the line. If that means calling out for people to stand further to left, or to make “one line” then that’s what I do. I will also try to scan who’s in my line and if I think there is anyone too young, too ill, too grubby, then I’ll politely point out my rules or just ask if everyone can make sure faces are clean etc. before they get to the chair to help speed things along.
ENDING THE LINE – This is very dependent on the type of event. If it’s a birthday party, then this shouldn’t be an issue because you are generally aware of the numbers beforehand and can then pace yourself so you finish everyone in time. It’s far more challenging for free to the public events or PPF. In these cases I do a couple of things. Firstly, I set an alarm on my phone or watch to go off one hour before I am due to finish, if at that point my line is huge, I will go down the line numbering each child on the back of their hand with a number, up to the number of children I know I can paint in one hour, normally up to 20 children for super-fast designs. Secondly, I move my A Board to the end of the line with a huge “line is closed” sign and ask the last parent in line to bring the sign along with them and direct anybody who questions it to speak to me. Generally I will explain to anyone else that unless they were given a number there will not be time to paint them and I will be finishing promptly at … O’clock. Just to add, that my line is closed sign, also states that only children with a number will be painted. I’ve been using this method for a while now and have never had any problems finishing those in line or having any disgruntled customers.
BONUS TIP – If you have the luxury of having a line manager with you… then do it! It really takes a load off your mind so you can focus on painting. Just make sure they know your rules and are willing to be firm and stick to those rules. Once you or anyone helping you bends the rules for one, it opens you up for complaints from other customers or the ever common “just one more” and “just one more” etc. Then before you know it, you’ll be there for another hour, so it’s not at all mean to refuse “just one more”, because inevitably it won’t be!
NEXT IN LINE MATS