Waiting in line

The airport in Las Vegas is at maximum capacity. It’s jammed. There is a line for everything, even the men’s room.

What amazed me, though, was the line ten or twelve deep at the food concessions. People were waiting ten minutes or longer to buy a bottle of water for $2.59 or a yogurt for a few dollars.

All day, every day. A line.

On the way home from the airport I called an organization that sells $500 training programs to businesses. Even though I was trying to reach someone that worked there, I was calling in on the orders line (the only number I had). I waited 15 minutes to talk to a real person.

Think about that.

In both cases, this is the last step of a very expensive chain. It’s expensive to rent that space in the airport. Expensive to outfit it. Expensive to bring in all the supplies. It’s expensive to build a training business, expensive to have the outbound marketing, the brochures, the events worth talking about.

The last step, though, that’s cheap. The last step, the step where someone actually takes your money–it’s not just cheap, it’s nothing but incremental profit.

It amazed me that no one had bothered to look a the concessions at the airport. To do simple things, like change the pricing so that with tax, everything came out evenly–no need to make change. Or to change the product line up, eliminating the items that take five times as long to prepare. Never mind the more creative things, like having an employee working the line, taking orders in advance and bringing back change so that the person at the counter could work three or four times faster…

And what about the training company? This is classic business-to-business order taking, and I’m unable to think of one reason that you don’t get a human being on the first ring. No auto attendant, no queue. Just a person, ready to answer the phone. Even one non-lost order a day pays for an entire person’s salary.

It’s difficult to cost-reduce yourself to growth.