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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Customers miffed - had to wait for box office to open (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Customers miffed - had to wait for box office to open
Mike Croaro
Master Film Handler

Posts: 394
From: Millbrae, CA
Registered: Apr 2005

 - posted 10-07-2012 08:22 PM      Profile for Mike Croaro   Email Mike Croaro   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Went to the single screen Century 21 in San Jose, CA today for the first showing of the day of "Taken 2". Show is at 12:30 PM. They typically open the box office 15 minutes before showtime, unless they are going to get a big crowd, then they open a little earlier. I am in line with a friend. There are a few other older people patiently waiting.

So at 12:05, a young girl (18-20) walks up to the box office and is in dismay that it has not opened. She makes comments out loud, more or less saying how wrong this is. I mentioned to her that the box office would open shortly. She leaves.

A girl (18-22) and a boy (12-14) come up at about 12:08. The boy starts wining to the girl (likley his sister) that the box office isn't open. He seems iriated about this. He suggests they go accross the street and see the same movie at the Cinearts. The sister says no. Then he's complaining about poor quality service and it just isn't right that the box office isn't open.

The first girl returns with her mother (presumably) around 12:10. She starts complaining again that she can't understand why the theatre isn't open when it's supposed to be showing movies. Both leave at the girls insistance.

Three guys(30-35) come up. Two immediatly start complaining that the theatre isn't open yet. The third mentiones to his friends that the box office opens 15 minutes before the first show. One of the men complains that the theatre is cheap and should open an hour before showtime as it would only cost them $8.00 in payroll.

Moments later, the box office person comes out of the office, into the box office, and starts selling tickets.

These people (especially the younger ones) seemed offended that they had to "wait" for the box office to open. They seemed, by their comments, to believe that they had suffered a huge injustice.

What do you make of this. It seems to me, to be a result of the younger generation wanting immediate satisfaction. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

I had no problem waiting. Neither did the other 6-8 people.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-07-2012 08:46 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Did they have a sign or something similar to indicate that the box office opens fifteen minutes before the first show? If not, I could see how some patrons may be confused (not angry, but confused).

I have never been a theatre manager or box office attendant, but it seems to be pretty much standard at most theatres to open for business half an hour before the first screening of the day, even in a single-screen house.

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Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2234
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 10-07-2012 08:54 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I pretty much always open my theatre 30 minutes before the start of the first show. If I'm expecting a huge crowd I'll open earlier, up to one hour before showtime. But that's maybe four or five times a year....

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Jock Blakley
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 218
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Oct 2011

 - posted 10-07-2012 09:42 PM      Profile for Jock Blakley   Email Jock Blakley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We always open the theatre and box office an hour before the first show... but yet every now and again we find people waiting out on the footpath for us to open.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6539
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-07-2012 09:54 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The official opening for the Tom Ridge Center is 10:45 a.m. for the 11:00 a.m. movie but I usually arrive before 10:30 a.m. and have the register open shortly thereafter. I'm usually open by 10:35 a.m.

I occasionally have customers waiting. Sometimes it's a school group with 20 or more kids. I have never had anybody complain, even on the off day when I don't get in until quarter till.

In the time between opening the register and the movie start time, I get the house ready, power up the machine and prep the concession stand. I have never had anybody act impatient. Most of the time they are happy to stand by and wait while I make the popcorn. The kids always love to watch it pop and the adults are always happy to be getting their popcorn hot, right out of the popper. I have fun playing it up to them, as well.

I have to admit that this is a special case. I'm a one-sreener and I run the whole place practically by myself. Most people are amazed and amused that I run the whole kit and kaboodle, single handed. Again, to you and me, this is no big deal but it usually pays to play it up to the customers a little.

I think the key is talking to your customers. If I came in, went straight up to the booth, didn't talk to people and didn't open the house until it was time for the show I'm sure I'd have a lot of pissed off customers.

No matter if you are running a single screen, special venue or a googolplex, communication is what it's all about. It sounds like that's what was lacking at the theater Mike is talking about.

I don't think actual opening time matters that much. It all depends on the business and what kind of traffic the theater gets but six pissed off customers walking away for lack of a sign, a newspaper/website ad or just somebody standing by to greet customers until the box opens is inexcusable.

That theater Mike is talking about just flushed $50-$60 dollars down the toilet because they couldn't communicate with their paying customers. Shame!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-07-2012 09:57 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We ususally open 15 minutes before the first show. If we opened a half-hour early we'd be sitting there listening to crickets until about 10 minutes before showtime.

The 15-minute thing is not posted on the doors, but if we are going to open any earlier due to a block-buster we'll post that information.

If people arrive early (they're waiting on the sidewalk when we get there), we just tell them "We'll be open in about three minutes" and they're always very understanding that we need to get ready.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6539
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-07-2012 09:59 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
If people arrive early (they're waiting on the sidewalk when we get there), we just tell them "We'll be open in about three minutes" and they're always very understanding that we need to get ready.
Communication! [thumbsup]

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8367
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 10-07-2012 11:27 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As you noticed, that the category of age determined this "being miffed" group of people.

Outside of the ones that were in their '20's, the high school kids haven't learned logic, patience and understanding yet.

Or, being so used in the ' massive instant service', of: smartphones (including the maniac purchases of the iFone 5 - like an addiction so massively horrible-more horrible than all of the drug addicts), internet, McDonalds and similar, that they simply are out of touch of knowing the attributes of 'growing up'.

When, I used to open as mgr, I would post a signage on the door of when doors would unlock for business. This kept the impatient at bay real well.

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Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 10-08-2012 09:27 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The waiting environment is also important, if the customers have to wait outside on the pavement without any shelter from the rain etc. they are likely to be a lot less happy than if they are waiting in an enclosed shopping centre.

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: Toledo, OH USA
Registered: Mar 2003

 - posted 10-08-2012 10:36 AM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, all communication. I mean, I'd expect most places to be open 30 minutes prior (we open 1 hour) but as long as it is communicated clearly, no problem.

I find it hilarious that these folks were mad it wasn't open. They must have extraordinarily busy lives.


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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2481
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-08-2012 10:38 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My policy is to open 1/2 hour before the show. Sometimes if I'm ready, I'll open a few minutes early. Usually if people are really early they got the showtimes wrong, though I am surprised by the number of people who do come more than a half an hour early to get tix afraid it is going to sell out. I've been her 27 years and we've sold out six times. Five for Greek Wedding.
I'll let people wait in the lobby while I open.
Surprisingly, the only people who complain about people waiting are my board members, who are usually only there for the special events where we may have a line of as many as ten people! These board members think I should open an hour before the show so no one ever has to wait in line.
There's customer service and then there's overkill [Wink]

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

Posts: 2348
From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002

 - posted 10-08-2012 10:49 AM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the point's been made in one word; "communications:.

That said... we can put 4 lanes of cars down one side of our drive-in and all the way across the front before they spill out onto the highway. My wife gets excited about opening if the line gets halfway down the side. It's not necessarily the wait on the customers' side (though that does come into it), but the buffer it removes from us if we don't have extra people to man a ticket line.

With that flexibility built-in, we publish open times nearly 2 hours before we start the show (good for concessions). In practice, we're usually open 15 to 30 minutes early.

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Barry Floyd
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1079
From: Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 10-08-2012 11:02 AM      Profile for Barry Floyd   Author's Homepage   Email Barry Floyd   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At my drive-in, we open 1 1/2 - 2 hours prior to the first show of the night. Since we are in essence a "fast food restaurant that happens to show movies in the parking lot", it's our goal to get folks in, get them parked, get them fed, and then back out to the lot to get settled in to watch the shows.

Inevitably, 1/3 of the nights crowds typically trickle in during the first hour to hour and 15 minutes. The other 2/3rd's show up 15-30 minutes before showtime, complain about "all the good parking spots are taken", "the lines are long in the concessions area", "we ought to be given our food for free for having to wait in line", "they really need to delay the start time of the movie until we get our food", etc. Totally impatient, usually rude, and typically 18-35 years in age.

The folks who show up early do get the good spots, never have to wait in line for food, and never miss any of the show.

What gets me the most is when folks think they are automatically entitled to something for free because of their lack of forethought and planning.

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1431
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004

 - posted 10-08-2012 12:26 PM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just curious...Since you knew the box office typically opened 15 minutes before showtime, did you share that information with them when they openly complained, or just silently observe?

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 894
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

 - posted 10-08-2012 02:15 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We open 30 minutes before first show, and have a sign posted right below the showtimes on the box office window. I've noticed it's typically middle-aged women who think they own the place who complain the most. Up to and including violently shaking the locked doors, yelling, and stupid gestures such as pointing at their watch or at box office.

I enjoy going over and politely telling them that we don't open for another 10 minutes, watching the look on their face as I point at the sign they say isn't there, right in front of their face. Classic.

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