Sunday, September 9, 2007

Public Notice to Hawks Front Office: Get the concessions fixed already!

Todd, Tim, Mike, Paul and whoever else will listen,

Please. PLEASE get the concessions situation straightened out at Qwest Field. I've been a season ticket holder for 10 years and it continues to amaze me how hard it is to get food at Qwest. I am so eager to give you money that I will wait in endless lines and pay $7 for a slice of pizza. Last time I checked, business is all about making it easy and appealing to have people give you money.

My buddy and I went to get some chow 2:30 before the end of the first half. He went to the mexican place (that is no longer Taco Del Mar which is too bad) and I went to get some pizza. I had just finished telling him the story about how crazy it was last year when it would take 5-10 minutes to get your pizza after you ordered. Sure enough, I get halfway through the line, and hear people being told that it will be at least 5 minutes before they get pizza. I say, "forget it," and walk over to my buddy at the mexican place who, you guessed it, is waiting at the front of the line because he's been told they have *no food* available right now. This is like a minute or two before halftime!! We are the early crowd for gosh sakes. I missed Nate Burleson's punt return for this??

I left to watch Shaun score the go-ahead TD and came back down late in the third quarter, at least an hour later. Same thing! Against my better judgement (my stomach has that effect), I went to the teriyaki place. I ordered the $5.25 hot dog after getting assurances from the person behind the counter that they had some available to buy. She came back a few minutes later and said they were out of hot dogs. *deep breath* It's not her fault. She's a volunteer. Since I had already paid for the phantom hot dog I asked, "Do you have anything I can order?" She had some $9.25 steak teriyaki bowls. My stomach won the argument, and I forked over more money.

If my planning was this bad, and having this much impact on the bottom line, I would be fired. There is a hugely successful model to follow across the street. Why can't you just copy it? Bring in local chains, and tell them to expect 67,000 people.

If you won't fix this for the fans, fix it for your business. Just fix it, please!

15 comments :

Vitamin R said...

Concessions are a no win gig at a sporting event, especially football, when every fan tends to go in a predictable pattern. You'd think the concession stands would understand this and load a ton of stuff under the heat lamps...but alas, that would be too simple, right?

I think the only way to overcome this is to eat prior to the game. Get one of the dogs outside the stadium or pack a sandwich.

One good thing about the concessions, is that they undercharged me for beers yesterday. How about that?

Another thing to love is that Tod Leiwicki is trying to improve the fan experience. So, what does the team do? Improve food quality in the luxury levels. For the rest of 'em, let them eat....garbage, or nothing for that matter.

jake said...

Totally agree. I was at the game yesterday and got in line at Kidd Valley with about 2:30 left in the half to try and beat some of the halftime rush. Long story short, I got back to my seat AFTER the 2nd half kickoff, and had to watch Burleson's return and the TD on TV instead of in my seat. Other lines there were moving more quickly - I managed to pick the slowest line - but this is freakin' ridiculous.

I used to work in foodservice at all levels from concessions to fine dining, and stadium concessions are without a doubt the most poorly run operations out there. It's the same at Safeco. Even marginally skilled workers can easily be trained to work efficiently by dividing up the labor - i.e. one person to take orders, one to fill drinks, one to fill food orders, etc. Instead you see the person at the till doing 90% of the work by themselves, in sequence, while their coworkers stand around in the background doing almost nothing. Add in the fact that they never plan for obvious rush times, and it's almost as if they are being trained to operate as inefficiently as possible. Argh.

hawkblogger said...

UPDATE: I've opened conversations with Seahawks representatives and are directing them to this blog entry to see fan stories as they get posted.

I hope to be able to talk about plans the Hawks have to address this going forward.

As I described to them, this can be turned into a win for everyone, and we all want Seahawk wins!

Stay tuned.

Ed said...

It certainly seemed to get worse last year once they changed vendors. I know my wife actually sent emails and wrote to Tod about the problems. Same experiences - out of food, slow service, balky registers, kiosk closes early or opens late. All in all, dramatically worse than two years ago, and far worse than Safeco...

hawkblogger said...

Ed, would you be able to share the result of the conversations with Tod?

I think tying as many of these conversations together as possible could really help drive a resolution. Speaking with a unified voice always helps in these cases.

Thanks for your post!

jedster said...

Yeah, me too.

I was on a line near section 312 (Kidd Valley) when all the sudden the register closed -- we'd been queued for like 5 minutes, and then were told to jump to another spot in the line.

Totally ticked me off. I spend less money at qwest field because concessions are so bad -- and at the same time, i'd say qwest concessions are among the better of any stadium I've ever been too!

My solution? More roaming vendors, like in baseball games.

Pay the vendors $0.50 for every item they sell and they'll be averaging ~$20 bucks an hour (including tips), if not more, to sell stuff while watching football.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the time factor since I quit buying food at Qwest ever since I got this disgusting dish of what was advertized as Nachoes. Tasted like toasted cardboard with orange colored library paste dribbled over the top. We just buy Taco del Mar burritos on 1st Ave and bring them in with us now.

bokonon said...

As a season ticket holder this is far and away the most FRUSTRATING problem at Qwest, and it never gets better. I complain about this every season.

Obviously there are going to be times, (halftime, end of quarters), where the lines will get long, I understand that. However, most of the time that's not the problem.

It's great that the Hawks let community groups earn money by working the concessions. However, they have no urgency in getting you back to your seat, or competence at running the stand. I've been waited on people who don't know how to run the resister; people who aren't old enough to pour a beer; people who don't know what's on the menu; people who told me to go get cash because "I don't like doing the cards." The end result of all of these situations is that, that person gets the person next to them to help. Guess what? Now there's 2 lines not moving.

Here's an idea, monitor how fast service is being delivered, and make the groups earnings based on that! Or, how about a fan guarantee that they'll not pay if they're in line more than 10 minutes.

In my section people now smuggle in booze so they don't have to go to the concession. Not because it's too expensive, but because they can miss a quarter trying to get a beer. This wasn't the case at the beginning.

Have you ever noticed there are a scant number of vendors working in the stands? Here's an idea, hire more walking vendors and not everyone has to go to the concessions.

This problem is not new, people have been complaining for years now, and the team chooses not to deal with it. I think it's conscious, purposeful decision because the fan has no alternative. Until Tod Leiwicki takes the service level at concessions seriously, the whole "fan friendly" mantra is nothing but cheap marketing lies. There's nothing fan centric about the concessions.

Here's an interesting thought for Jones soda...What kind of partnership is it when people who attend every game will never try your product because the concessions are so bad that they avoid them all together.

Forget trying to get the Hawk's ear on this one, they're clearly deaf to it. Go to the partners and show how detrimental the arrangement is to their customer acquisition plans.

Where else do the prices go up every year while the service and quality go down?

Jesse said...

I quit buying concessions altogether because it takes far too much time to wait in line.

I think the simple solution is to get more roaming vendors. It's a piece of cake to move a million hot dogs and a bevy of beers this way.

During last Sunday's game only two guys came into section 323. Gimme a break.

Anonymous said...

The wait in any line is atrocious. I've also stopped getting anything but the occasional beer due to the excessive wait at the stands.

The other issue I have is that it's kinda tough to plunk down $7+ for a bottle of lukewarm budweiser.

hawkblogger said...

UPDATE: I have not yet heard anything back from the Seahawks on this. I will be staying with it until there is a satisfactory response.

I will update this thread as things progress.

Ed said...

The response my wife got was the standard "Thank you for letting us know about your recent experience with our concessions. We continue to strive to ensure that the experience for all of our fans is the best in football, etc." No specifics...

bokonon said...

Guess what, last night there were actually vendors walking the aisles around my section! Unbelievable.

Maybe this is working?

Of course there were hiccups.

Several walking vendors were just sitting next to the concessions stands selling. Kind of misses the point.

I saw one on the Pretzel vendors spent about 5 minutes flirting and giving her phone number to a fan.

A lemonade vendor shorted a guy $5 because he didn't have the change. No explanation, the vendor just didn't send back the right amount and moved on. The yelling match that erupted was annoying and distracting.

hawkblogger said...

I hope so. I have been trading voicemails with Levy Restaurants who run the operations there.

This last week, I went back for my pizza slice well before the game started and after 10 minutes (literally) of them trying to swipe my credit cards, they just gave me my food for free.

Awesome business.

hawkblogger said...

Just a little update here. I still have never received an adequate response. Despite the obvious impact to their business, this does not appear to be a big priority, at least for us Joe's sitting in the 300 section.

Maybe if I was a club seat season ticket holder, they would work with me a little more.

It's a shame. I'm a committed fan who is just trying to get something fixed so we can all enjoy the game better (and make the Hawks more money).

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