Are you looking for ways to eliminate long lines as guests queue up to collect their auction winnings?
Do you want to provide a stream-lined, more pleasant experience for your guests? Here are some tips on how to optimize the check-out process and speed your guests on their way.
Set the Time and Place
Whenever you have a large crowd, it’s important to make sure everyone knows what is happening and when. Be firm and clear and state the time and place for check-out in several ways:
- Have your emcee announce when it’s time to proceed to the checkout area.
- If you’re using Online Bidding, send the final text to your guests, letting them know when it’s time to check out.
- Clearly state on your printed program the end time for the event and where the check-out area is.
- Once or twice throughout the evening, announce when and where to check-out and pick-up items.
Separate Check-Out and Pick-Up
You can minimize congestion by creating two separate areas for check-out and pick-up, perhaps at opposite ends of the room. That way, guests who are just checking out can do so quickly and won’t clog up the lines for those who are also picking up items. Tell your guests to have their name and bid number ready so they can get pick up their items quickly.
Separate the Space
Consider setting up the Item Pick Up area behind a curtain, out of sight. This allows you to do all the prep work without disturbing your guests. You and your volunteers can get everything in order without interruptions. A curtain also helps eliminate looky-loos or people trying to leave early, which tends to cause others to do the same.
Mind Your Traffic Flow
You’ll need a well-designed flow, both in and out of the check-out and pick-up areas. If it’s structured well, the space will discourage people from huddling in groups and blocking the flow. Proper traffic management will also help ensure that people don’t leave without paying.
Line Up Enough Volunteers
Check-out is just as important as check-in, in terms of how many volunteers you’ll need. There’ll be fewer people working face-to-face with your guests, but you’ll need more people to handle package pick up. Not every guest will win something, and if they prepaid they’ll be able to check out quickly. For those who did win something, you’ll need enough volunteers to make sure everyone gets their packages efficiently.
Also, by the end of the evening, your volunteers will be tired. It’s often a good idea to create two shifts—one for the main part of the evening and another for check-out. That way your guests leave on a happy note, served by rested, helpful people.
Get Your Equipment Ready
Make sure you’ve got all the necessary equipment (in working order) for taking payments and providing receipts:
- Credit card swipers
- Printer, ink/toner and paper for printed receipts
- Computer for emailed receipts
- Cash box and change
Organize Your Packages
Make sure all items and packages are clearly marked for easy pick up. You can either mark them by package number or, if you have time, by bidder number:
- Package Number: Arrange all the packages in package number order. When a guest shows up with his package numbers, the volunteers go shopping and find the corresponding packages. This method is faster, depending on how many volunteers you have.
- Bidder Number: Mark packages by winning bid number throughout the evening, using sticky notes or pre-printed bid numbers. At the end of the evening arrange all packages by bid number. This allows you to group each person’s winnings together, which is more convenient for the guest.
Sell Additional Items
Check-out is a good opportunity for last-minute transactions:
- Thank your guests and give them a swag bag.
- Sell the centerpieces and “left over” last-chance items.
- Sell your merchandise, especially any memento items specific to the event.
Share Your Ideas
What is your experience with the check-out process? What works and what doesn’t? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.