Spotting Waste at the Stadium: Concessions

Posted on January 19, 2012 | in Baseball, Basketball, Concession Stand, Defects, Employee Knowledge, Football, Inventory, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, Motion, New Ideas, Overprocessing, Overproduction, Sports, Standardized Work, Teamwork, Time Savings, Transportation, Waiting | by

So now we’ve identified the eight lean wastes and dug deeper into what kinds of havoc they can wreak on resources.

Let’s go see if we can find these wastes in a concession stand. These are some (not all) of the questions that should be asked.


  • How often does the customer receive the wrong drink (wrong flavor, ice/no ice)? How much time does it take to do it properly?
  • How often is food overcooked or undercooked? Does the customer have to return to get it replaced?
  • Does any of your perishable inventory (hot dog buns, pretzels) expire and become unconsumable?


  • If you serve coffee but have cream/sugar away from the register, do you put lids on the coffee and the customer takes it right back off to add more stuff?
  • Do you tightly wrap burgers in foil then see customers put condiments on away from the register?
  • How much time is spent working on tasks that are simply undone by the customer?


  • Do you see concessionaires waiting for customers?
  • Do you have customers and concessionaires waiting for drink pours? How long are they waiting?
  • How long are the lines for customers? How long does it take for the last person in line to make it to the register? How often do customers simply abandon the line?
  • Do you measure line wait times?
  • Do you have tasks between busy periods that the operators can complete? Are there tasks that are done on the back end of a shift (such as after the game is over) that can be done earlier?

New Ideas/Employee Knowledge:

  • Do any of your employees perform tasks in different manners? Who does it best? Can that be shared?
  • Are the concession stands laid out in identical manner? Can they be?
  • How often do workers bring up new ideas to make things better? Do you listen? Have you ever implemented them?


  • How far do employees have to walk to get replenished supplies?
  • What is the furthest an employee must travel to supply a customer with one of every item on the menu?
  • How often are items brought from “storage” to the stand, only they have to be returned to storage because too much was brought out?


  • What is the longest an item has been taking up space in the concession stand? What is the turnover rate of packaged/non-perishable items (like chips or peanuts)?
  • How many days worth of supplies are stocked in each stand (cups, condiments, utensils, napkins)? How much footprint is being taken up by supplies greater than one day away from consumption?
  • Do inventory supplies get in the way of moving around the stand?
  • Is there broken or unused equipment in the stand at any time (before, during, or after games)?
  • How much inventory expires or becomes unusable?


  • How many steps does a concession operator take in order to fill a customer order?
  • What is the furthest distance an operator must travel to obtain every item on the menu?
  • Do you keep items in your stand that require a greater reach than the length of an arm?
  • How much reaching or stretching or bending or crouching must operators do?
  • Are there steps the operators perform that are unneeded (opening plastic beer bottles, adding condiments in the stand, opening chip bags)?

Excess Production:

  • How often do you have prepared food set out that goes unconsumed?
  • Any prepared food that is unconsumed – how much of it is thrown away or given away?
  • How often is food set out well in advance for when it might be needed, perhaps to offset high demand periods?
  • Is there any way that production can be performed right as the items are ordered?

This is not an all-encompassing “checklist” of everything that needs to be seen, but a series of questions that demonstrates just how much time and money is being wasted by inefficient processes. That said, if you see any of these issues, it’s not a people issue – it’s a process issue. Fix your processes, train your operators properly, and you will see these wastes in your processes decrease dramatically.

But you have to know what to see and what to ask.

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3 Responses to “Spotting Waste at the Stadium: Concessions”

  1. Pingback: Mobile Beer Vendors Cut Customer Wait Times At Sporting Events | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

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