Waitlist Technology Helps Businesses Reopen Successfully

Mobile Waitlist Apps Help Businesses Thrive in a New Economy

Waitlist Technology Helps Businesses Reopen Successfully - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

There is light at the end of the global pandemic now that vaccinations are being rapidly administered worldwide. And this means businesses are chomping at the bit to reopen in a safe and efficient manner. As spring and the ease of COVID-19 restrictions provide a sense of economic rejuvenation, retail shopping and in-person events will be in high demand. Adjusting to a new normal is to be expected, and adaptive technologies that offer innovative appointment, waitlist, and queue management systems are making it safer and easier to do so.

Some challenges businesses and event organizers are facing include: 

  • Long wait times creating overcrowded areas
  • Customers and local residents complaining about long lines
  • Staff feeling overwhelmed with managing the influx of people
  • Issues managing the higher demand in a fair and orderly fashion
  • Challenges communicating with guests before and during events
  • High call volumes about wait times and the customer check-in process 

NextME virtual waitlist app offers customized solutions to help mitigate and manage these challenges. Their schedule, waitlist, and queue management software provides businesses with innovative solutions that either drastically reduce or eliminate physical lines so that customers feel safer on the premises. They also provide the staff with relevant and useful information so they can create a real-time strategy in managing a higher demand. Popfancy, a boutique creamery and catering business that is famous for their “Fan-Cafe” pop-up events, is a prime example of how NextME can help businesses and events thrive.

Pop-Up Event Benefits From Mobile Waitlist App 

Popfancy hosts booths at Houston’s largest city-wide festivals, fundraisers, trade shows, and events. Their “Fan Cafe” pop-up events focus on niche themes, such as gaming and anime. With their offering of all-natural, ice-cold, healthy desserts in a smattering of gourmet flavor combinations, their popularity has been growing exponentially. With explosive popularity growth comes increasing queues and wait times. In fact, Pop Fancy's last event (before implementing NextME) had lines with wait times of up to 5 hours, which is incredible! To assuage the excessive wait time issue, Popfancy started utilizing stand-by admission software that promotes a virtual line and waiting room. Here's how it works...

Stand-By Admissions Helps Mitigate 5 Hour Wait Times

Waitlist Technology Helps Businesses Reopen Successfully - NextME Virtual Waitlist App - Popfancy Pop-up Events

NextMe helped Fan Cafe pop-up events implement a Stand-By Admissions process that drastically reduced their lines. This, in turn, boosted customer morale, built brand loyalty, eliminated neighborhood complaints, and maintained overall sales. The Stand-By Admissions process is simple and guarantees entrance via an advance reservations line on the event site, or the ability to join a free “virtual standy-by line” on event day. 

Here’s how it works:  

Step 1: Virtual Line opens at 12 PM on Event Day. Attendees visit their website to book a reservation for 1-10 people, join the standy-by admission waitlist, or follow the link provided in their Instagram stories for the most current updates on walk-ins.

Step 2: Once guests are within the queue, they have the freedom to mingle, converse with friends, or do whatever they please as they monitor their position in line via the VWR (Virtual Waiting Room) on their phones via any web browser. There’s no need to download a separate mobile app for use. 

Step 3: Guests receive a text alert and have 1 hour to check in at that time. 

Please note the check in time can be altered to suit your particular businesses’ needs.

The results of implementing this technology were outstanding:

  • 95% positive feedback from the customer base, and 
  • Total sales from the event matching their previous event, which had 2x the number of guests!

Popfancy owner, Chris Doan commented, “This was a total 180 from completely chaotic to smooth. Helped us pace everything out perfectly. Very chill compared to the last event. Very user-friendly. Oh, and we definitely kept up with demand.”

Waitlist Technology Helps Businesses Reopen Successfully - NextME Virtual Waitlist App - Popfancy Implements NextME to Reduce Long Lines

How NextMe’s Virtual Waitlist App Can Help Your Business or Event Business

Things have been closed for over a year and people are ready to do just about anything to return to normalcy. Consumers are looking for ways they can re-engage with the businesses they love and trust, whereby businesses are seeking innovative solutions for how to reopen safely and successfully. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, retail businesses and events are benefiting from the addition or modernization of their outdated waitlist system, and Popfancy is a prime example.

At NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than reservation platforms. Our virtual waitlist system is a new category of service that helps organizations stay connected to their customers at all times, thus increasing customer retention and overall satisfaction. Beyond helping eliminate long lines that deter and irritate your clientele, you can improve your customers’ experiences by providing important information as it relates to your establishment. It’s a win-win for everyone.

If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can streamline your business operations in a safe and efficient manner, follow this link to contact us. Together we can tackle the challenges associated with reopening your business or event.


Appointment Booking Apps Give Solutions for COVID Vaccination: NextME Virtual Queue App

Appointment Booking Apps Give Solutions for COVID Vaccination

NextME Appointment Queue Helps the Healthcare Industry in Time of Need

Appointment Queue Helps the Healthcare Industry in Time of Need

To say that COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our local and global economies is an understatement, especially when it comes to the healthcare industry and our desperate need for innovative technologies. Governments, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare sectors of all types have been scrambling for over a year to bring this pandemic to an end. Their focus was first and foremost on the successful creation of a safe and effective vaccination. Now that this has been accomplished, we are turning all of our attention towards how to allocate and distribute limited supplies in a timely and efficient manner to billions of people. 

Providers are currently administering about 1.67 million doses per day according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. At the current pace, authorities are projecting that about half of the U.S. population will be at least partially vaccinated by the end of June, and nearly all by mid-November. To help accelerate these efforts, state and local health departments are turning to online appointment scheduling apps and communication software to help them scale up distribution. 

For instance, New York State’s Am I Eligible site provides an online eligibility form prior to being able to book an appointment. Once pre-approved, the website’s system allows for a limited number of appointments, whereby once they are filled, people go into a virtual “waiting room” that holds their place in line on a first-come, first-served basis. With an increase in traffic, the site has experienced some challenges, however it is dramatically helping healthcare units plan distributions, mitigate crowds, and keep people safe so they can administer COVID vaccinations more efficiently. 

Online Apps & Virtual Waiting Rooms Promote Positive Response 

NextME Virtual Waitlist App: Online Apps & Virtual Waiting Rooms Promote Positive Response 

Scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations has caused a sense of panic for many Americans, especially those within the eligible 65+ age category that are not as tech savvy as younger generations. Senior Living Homes, mobile medical units, hospitals, and pharmacies that are distributing the vaccine are looking for quick and viable solutions to help streamline the process so that more people can gain access to the vaccine. Beyond crowd control and/or managing long term waitlists, they are looking for ways to communicate real-time information in the easiest way possible so that:

  1. Patients are knowledgeable about what they need to do prior to their appointment.
  2. Upon a virtual check-in, they receive and are able to fill out important medical forms online.
  3. There is a virtual “waiting room” that communicates real time status so that patients stay informed as to where they are in line.
  4. In case of a no-show, the time sensitive vaccines are not wasted as the missed appointment can immediately be filled by an applicant within the virtual “waiting room.” 

Socioeconomic status and age, as they relate to access and/or a familiarity with online apps, have added to the fear that many Americans are already experiencing. In response, friends, family members, and volunteers across the U.S. are offering their time and services to provide more equal opportunity. For instance, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker opened call centers to help seniors book vaccine appointments, and in Seattle 17-year-old Arin Jaff began offering help to his immediate community after watching his grandparents struggle. These types of response are both palpable and necessary to achieve timely results that will save lives.  

Today’s Queue Solutions Require a Timely Exchange of Information

Information is incredibly valuable when it comes to booking a vaccination appointment, especially in regards to availability, eligibility, and real time status for long term waitlists. NextME’s appointment booking app is working to make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved, meaning both clients and the public. Their products integrate with other software platforms so that organizations are not required to revamp their entire system in order to receive the benefits of the additional services.  

Below is a high level overview of how NextME can work with other software platforms (without a deep integration) to manage long term waitlists. 

Step 1: Depending on how many vaccines are available, the NextME Administer is able to send out a mass email or text reminder using their preferred appointment software or it informs the contact list to come in on any given day as a walk-in during the hours of operation. 

Step 2: If a patient has an appointment, the administrator can drop NextME's URL into their custom SMS text reminders of their upcoming appointments for patients to check-in once they arrive to their parking lot. 

Step 3: NextME administrator will then see their patients' info populate into their mobile app as they arrive and can swipe and notify each patient to check in. 

NextME’s additional features that make the process even easier include: 

  • Check in QR Codes that walk-in patients can utilize.
  • Leverage our queue filter feature to help administrators triage patients according to their reason for visit
  • A “Geo-Fence” that enables the Client to control the distance a patient has to be from their vaccination site before they can check-in. 
  • The ability to control scheduled hours as to when self check-in forms are available to the public.

How NextMe’s Technology Can Help Mainstream Vaccination Distributions

NextME Virtual Waitlist App: How NextMe’s Technology Can Help Mainstream Vaccination DistributionsAt NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than reservation platforms. Our virtual waitlist software is a new category of service that helps organizations stay connected to their patients at all times, thus enabling more accurate scheduling processes for long-term waitlists. Beyond helping eliminate crowded waiting rooms, you can improve your customers’ experiences and provide them with important information as it relates to their healthcare.

Our SMS-based technology also provides a simpler solution for less-connected and less-tech savvy populations, such as people aged 65+ and those of lower socioeconomic status. According to 2019 Pew studies, more than 85% of people aged 65+ and 70% of households who make less than $30,000 per year own cell phones. This outpaces the number of people within the above demographic ranges that own computers or have broadband internet access. Unlike most vaccine administration sites and technologies, NextME requires only that patients have a cell phone number that can receive SMS messages in order to join and receive notifications about their place in the waitlist. 

The healthcare industry needs high-level solutions that will enable facilities to widely distribute as many vaccines as possible in an organized and fair manner. Online appointment scheduling and virtual waitlists aim to do precisely that. If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can streamline operations in a safe and efficient manner at your senior living home, mobile medical unit, hospital, and/or pharmacy, follow this link to contact us. Together we can make a difference in the well-being of our global communities.


How Queue Management and Virtual Waiting Rooms Helped a Charity Bless 320 Kids With Gifts | NextME Waitlist App

How a Local Charity Teamed up with NextME for Their Annual Toy Drive

How Queue Management and Virtual Waiting Rooms Helped a Charity Bless 320 Kids With Gifts | NextME Online Waitlist

How Queue Management and Virtual Waiting Rooms Helped a Charity Bless 320 Kids with Gifts

1 Village, a non-profit organization located in metro Atlanta, has the fundamental goal of “helping communities better themselves”. Each year on Christmas Eve, they host a much anticipated toy drive for families in need. 1 Village works tirelessly throughout the year gathering donations and building sponsorships. Even the Spyder Squad ATL (motorcycle club) dropped off loads of gifts for the event this year.

The Problem: Health and Safety Measures. Outdated Check-in Processes

They had the gifts and sponsors but organizers were facing tough challenges this year due to restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic. They needed to tackle their intake and check-in process. 1 Village decided to digitize the way they held events to ensure everyone’s safety. The answer? A modern waitlist solution with a Virtual Waiting Room and QR codes. 

The Solution: A Queue Management System with a Virtual Waiting Room

1 Village teamed up with NextME to employ a waitlist management system for the event. They customized their Virtual Waiting Room and Self Check-In features based on their specific needs. And after some quick and friendly onboarding from NextME staff, the organizers we’re ready to take on the event. (we supplied our service for free)

How Queue Management and Virtual Waiting Rooms Helped a Charity Bless 320 Kids With Gifts | NextME Waitlist App

How It Went

“The app was definitely helpful and fairly easy to use... Overall it was a good day. We were able to bless 320 kids with gifts. - Niesha (Nikki) Hicks, Co-Founder

  • The organizers had implemented a pre-registration process ahead of the event (to ensure they had enough supplies for the demand this year)
  • When a guest arrived at the event, they checked in by scanning a QR code on one of their many check-in signs located outside. 
  • The guest filled out their custom form and jumped on the waitlist
  • Organizers filtered each guest coming on to the waitlist into their respective queues, based on their party size and pre-registration status
  • While the guest waited in their car, they were engaged in the Virtual Waiting Room - updating them on their spot in line, highlighting different sponsors, and capturing their emails in order to reach out to them for future events. 
  • When space opened up inside, the organizer simply notified the next guest in line via the NextME App.
  • The guest received the final text to come inside, with instructions on where to enter the building. 
  • Gifts and smiles all around - with an email to attend their next event on the way. 

1 Village plans on using NextME at all of their future events, pandemic or not. From a managerial perspective, NextME increased throughput and efficiency which helped the event run smoothly. And from a guest perspective, the Self Check-In and Virtual Waiting Room features provided them with a better guest experience - and that made their day a little more special. 

If you’d like to donate to 1 Village, contact Nikki at [email protected]

Request a demo or give us a call at (877) 639-8631 for more info!


Too many Delivery Drivers at your restaurant's door? There’s an easy fix.

How Waitlist Management Apps and Virtual Waiting Rooms Help Delivery Run Seamlessly

Overwhelmed with Third Party Delivery Apps?

You’re not alone. Even Restaurant Week is takeout-only this year. The push for delivery was starting to emerge pre-pandemic but this last year has accelerated that pace significantly. This increased demand for delivery has created a third-party delivery company boom. And created a new set of challenges for the restaurant industry.

Without getting into commission fees, the increased demand for delivery apps has made the pickup process increasingly hard for restaurants to manage. There are over 10 (and counting) major delivery apps out there. If a restaurant is accepting orders (willingly or not) from these companies, several delivery drivers from different companies are often coming by at peak hours to pick up orders. 

How can you manage this chaos?  

Restaurants and tech companies (not the delivery app ones) are finding creative solutions to adapt to this new environment. Waitlist management apps have come out with new features like Self Check-In options and Virtual Waiting Rooms . These awesome features, however, are primarily used to manage the customer intake process. Self-Check-In features provide safe and easy options for the guest to check in. And Virtual Waiting Rooms keep guests informed and engaged during their wait. Both reduce negative reviews, build brand image and most importantly, increase efficiency. Can Self Check-Ins and Virtual Waiting Rooms be used with delivery drivers, you ask?

It’s Simple: Use NextME’s waitlist management app for your delivery drivers.

Step 1. Delivery drivers check themselves in when they arrive for the order using either a QR code posted outside or by clicking on a simple link sent to them in the automated message through the third party delivery app.

Step 2. They fill out your custom intake form, including their mobile number, third party delivery company, order number, or anything else you would like to include.

Step 3. Delivery drivers wait in their cars instead of in a cluster around your door. While they wait, they enter your Virtual Waiting Room, learning about your pickup processes and are updated of their spot in line. 

Step 4. Once the order is ready, the driver is simply notified with a second text to come pick up their order. 

And using NextME’s filtering features, you can separate your delivery drivers by company into separate queues for better organization. You can even add “order number” and “customer name” fields into the custom intake form to maximize your pickup process. At last, your staff can breathe a sigh of relief. 

A Solution for Restaurants Big and Small

NextME’s waitlist system is being used to manage delivery drivers at restaurants big and small across North America. A Jet's Pizza Franchise, located in Ohio, recently implemented NextME at their business. Since then, they have effectively organized and streamlined their pickup process. Request a demo or give us a call at (877) 639-8631 for more info!


Small Business Spotlight - Gaslight Diner

Most of the restaurants we love are small businesses. And the Covid pandemic has created a ton of problems for the restaurant industry this year. With some restaurants proving to be less-than ideal for this new culinary landscape, experienced restaurateurs have shifted their focus, rebranded, and incorporated tech to better meet the needs of their customers. In the case of Seth Boone and his team in Louisville, they did just that.  

With a retro diner aesthetic and a savvy online presence, Gaslight Diner opened in mid-November to better meet the breakfast-food cravings of their neighborhood. And they’re serious about engaging with their community. Seth Boone has placed a strong emphasis on customer relations and service throughout Gaslight. For one, he’s made checking-in as easy as possible for his guests. After placing NextMe’s Widget on his site, Seth’s customers don’t have to wait in line or out in the cold Louisville winters. His guests can now check-in and wait for their table in their cars. They can even take a nice, socially-distant walk around town while they wait. It doesn’t really matter where they go. What matters is his guests don’t have to wait in line. And that is something that customers remember. 

 

Always building on their customer base, Gaslight uses NextMe’s Virtual Waiting room to boost and drive engagement. While waiting for a table, guests can now browse their updated menus, promotions and visit their social media. They’re also updated with their spot in line so everyone stays calm and collected. 

If you dine at Gaslight Diner (which we hope you do if you’re ever in the great city of Louisville), you can enjoy a virtual check in experience compliments of NextME (and Seth).


5 Ways to Prep Your Retail Store for the Pandemic Holiday Season - NextME Queue Management App

5 Ways to Prep Your Retail Store for the Pandemic Holiday Season

The ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic is creating numerous conundrums for retailers during the busiest time of the year - the holiday season. As individuals try to cope with the consequences of a Pandemic Holiday - Halloween without trick-or-treaters, Thanksgiving without large gatherings, and December without parties - retailers are struggling to determine how to turn a profit during Black Friday and the holiday season without encouraging large in-person crowds. Fortunately, technology can help. Below is a list of five actions retailers can take to keep shoppers safe and spending money during this crucial time of year.

5 Ways to Prep Your Retail Store for the Pandemic Holiday Season - NextME Virtual Waitlist AppHow to Prepare for the Holiday Shopping Season in the Time of COVID-19

Eliminate crowded waiting rooms and long lines without forcing customers to wait outside in the cold

5 Ways to Prep Your Retail Store for the Pandemic Holiday Season - NextME Online Waitlist AppRetailers are faced with a catch-22 this year. Due to social distancing capacity limitations, you can't allow large crowds in your stores. However, sending people outside to wait in the cold for an indeterminate amount of time is as good as sending them to your competitors that don't have long waits. How do stores eliminate long lines without turning customers away, or losing them? One of the best ways to do this is by utilizing a virtual waitlist platform, such as NextME, that allows customers to join the waitlist either at your store (in-person or by scanning a QR code) or online from your site before they arrive. This system can then text notify patrons where they are in line, thus allowing them to wait wherever and however they want. No need to wait in the snow in a queue, or even arrive at the store before their turn.

Keep track of customers while serving at limited capacity

As stated above, sending a customer outside to wait in the cold is as good as sending them to another store. The key to making limited capacity work is to effectively keep track of and communicate with your customers who are waiting their turn to enter your shop. NextME's SMS-based platform provides a number of ways to communicate with and keep tabs on your guests. Specifically, the platform automatically texts them important updates, and also gives them access to a virtual waiting room (discussed in more detail below) that provides more general updates. You also can easily filter your waitlist by curbside pick-up versus in-person customers and tailor your messaging to each group. Finally, NextME makes it easy for you to export customer data for COVID tracing purposes.

Make use of virtual waiting rooms to engage with customers

NextME's virtual waiting room is a great tool for filling some of the customer service void that's been created by COVID's social distancing protocols. Retailers can customize their virtual waiting rooms however they want. For example, a great use for this feature is to answer common questions guests have, such as: Are your most popular products in stock? Where to find the more popular products in your store? What discounts and specials are you running? By making effective use of the virtual waiting room, you keep guests informed, happy, and safe.

Allow for online shopping and ordering ahead

5 Ways to Prep Your Retail Store for the Pandemic Holiday Season - NextME Waitlist App

The internet is a magical thing. If your online ordering and shopping system is really streamlined and effective, you may be able to make your holiday profits without a single customer entering your store. Creating a stellar online shopping experience goes beyond building a great eCommerce site (although this is a critical first step). You also need to effectively enable curbside pickup and mobile ordering / communication. Again, NextME to the rescue. Our platform seamlessly integrates the entire process of a customer browsing and ordering online for in-store or curbside pick-up, then receiving SMS updates to let them know when to pick up their order. They can even check their position in line in real-time from their phones!

Use technology to improve operational efficiency and throughput

One of the few silver linings of the Coronavirus Pandemic is that it has given businesses an opportunity to streamline their operations and improve efficiency. And the more efficient you are, the easier it is to follow social distancing guidelines. This is where NextME really excels. Our platform is proven to increase guest throughput and help clients retain up to 35% more customers. One key to this is displaying accurate wait times, which reduces the number of calls from customers asking how long the wait is. Another important aspect is our predictive analytics, which help clients staff effectively during the busiest times of the day.

 


5 Marketing Tips for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

5 Marketing Tips for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

5 Marketing Tips for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

The following post is from a guest contributor. 

Are you managing a business that recently reopened or made major changes in operations due to COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns? If so, then a lot about the way you’ve typically done business has been flipped on its head. Still, it’s important that even while you’re working to make sure that your overall operations are still running smoothly, you’re effectively marketing your business and ensuring future growth. Here’s how your business can reach new and existing customers during the pandemic. 

Marketing Tips for Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

Understand Changing Customer Needs 

With unemployment still high, many consumers have shifted their purchase habits. However, it’s important to remember that different customers react to economic downturn differently. While some groups are cutting their spending significantly, others are making purchases as they would in normal times. 

To better focus your marketing efforts, it’s important to recognize which demographic groups your business is serving. To do this, take surveys of your customer base to get a better idea of how their spending habits have shifted in recent months. You can then tailor your messaging to better serve their needs. For example, if you see that a majority of your customers are willing to maintain spending levels on purchases they deem “essential”, you can tailor your marketing messages to emphasize why your services are essential. 

Leverage Text Messaging 

In uncertain times like these, it’s important to connect with your existing customers so they understand everything that’s happening with your business. Right now, the best way to do this is through text messaging. Studies show that text messaging has a stunning open rate of 98% compared to just 31% for email. 

There are several ways that you can leverage text messaging. You can use texting to send relevant deals and offers, update customers about your business operations, or send appointment or delivery reminders. 

Collect Online Reviews 

When customers do a Google search for your business, one of the first things that they’ll see is your online reviews. Because of this, reviews can help boost all of your other marketing efforts. Whether a customer hears about you through print, radio, or a Facebook ad they are likely to Google you and see what other customers are saying about you. 

To make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward to customers, implement an online reputation management strategy and make an effort to solicit reviews from your customers. You can make the process easy for customers by sending requests through texts and email that link directly to your profiles on review sites. That way, all your customers have to do is click a link and leave a review.

Change Your Listings 

Most businesses have gone through significant operational changes in the past few months. Of course, many loyal customers may simply be unaware of these changes because they’ve had their own life issues to deal with. It’s important that you give them the information they need to re-engage with your business when they’re ready. 

If you’ve recently reopened your business locations or taken additional steps to protect customer safety, you should update your listings on sites like Google My Business and other business listings sites. That way, customers searching your business can see right away the changes in your business operations and understand the steps that you are taking to keep them safe. 

Leverage Social Media 

With more people spending more time indoors, customers are more likely to be scrolling through Facebook or looking at their Twitter. That means it’s even more important for your business to leverage social media. 

Try to post relevant content that speaks to some of the concerns that your customers might be experiencing. For example, this Instagram post by Nature’s Bakery showed some fun activities that customers could do while at home with their families. 

 

5 Marketing Tips for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 - Leverage Social Media - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

If you’re a smaller team or you don’t feel like you have the resources to leverage social, don’t worry. You can still have a successful social media strategy on a smaller scale. Try to focus on one platform where you feel that your target audience spends the most time. 

In Conclusion 

Marketing your business during normal times is tough. Standing out from the competition in uncertain times like these is even more difficult. But with the right strategy, your business can be the obvious choice in the area. 


Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

A Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

Cannabis dispensaries have occupied a unique niche throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. People have made it clear that they consider them essential businesses, even when politicians have tried to define them otherwise. Be it from ‘panic buying’ as stay-at-home orders went into effect, or record sales as the orders were extended, demand for medical and recreational marijuana is booming and is expected to reach 37 billion in revenue by 2024

Because of this, it’s imperative that dispensaries continue to evaluate and evolve their safety measures. This is particularly important for the estimated 3 million people in the US who are dependent on medical marijuana, as a large percentage of this population has compromised immune systems.

To help with these efforts, we’ve created a guide to providing a safer shopping experience in cannabis dispensaries during COVID-19.

How to Make Your Cannabis Dispensary Safer During COVID-19

#1 Make Use of Virtual Waitlist Software that Allows for Contactless Check-in 

The days of shopping worry-free for necessities and amenities may feel like they’re in the past, but businesses are helping make them a reality once again with additional precautions, such as the use of digital appointment systems or virtual waitlist software. Digital appointment systems provide an online platform that shoppers can use to schedule an appointment prior to their arrival so they receive same-day service on a first-come first-served basis. They also help business owners gain insights into their day-to-day operations so they can streamline their staffing requirements and prepare for a safer environment from open to close. 

At NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than appointment platforms. Our virtual waitlist software is a new category of service that helps cannabis dispensaries stay connected to their guests at all times through text communications and engagement with your store’s website. It enables more flexibility in scheduling, the ability to communicate real-time status so your customers feel seen and acknowledged, a platform that you can use to advertise new products or educate your clientele about your new waitlist process, and it allows for curbside pick-up for those that feel safer staying in their cars.

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App - Enable Virtual Waiting Rooms and Contactless Check-in

Here’s how it works. Upon arrival, customers can either check-in and join the waitlist from their phones via your store’s website, or by scanning a customized QR code at your storefront. Both options allow for contactless check-in that can either be completed online or while standing at a safe distance outside your store. While waiting in their cars or outside, they can use the virtual waiting room to see their position in line and interact with your store’s online content. As soon as it’s safe for guests to enter or it’s their turn in line, they receive a text message notification. Same thing applies for those that prefer curbside pick-up.

Already have a preferred appointment system? No problem. NextME’s online waitlist can easily work as an added feature in conjunction with your existing system. As an added bonus, since our platform is SMS-based, your guests don’t need to download a separate app to use it! 

#2 Use Virtual Waiting Rooms to Communicate with Customers

Signage may be one of the oldest forms of advertising, but it’s still one of the most beneficial - especially when it’s digital. Dispensaries can use NextMe’s guest engagement page to communicate more than just the waitlist and check-in process to clientele. Specifically, you can use it to make up for the lack of customer-employee interaction that’s required by COVID-19’s enhanced safety protocols. For example, you could use our engagement page to: 

  • Outline your new waitlist and check-in process
  • Showcase products that help with certain ailments; 
  • Educate your customers on medical marijuana benefits; or 
  • Relate to your clientele with patient success stories. 

Strategically-implemented digital signage will let your customers know you’re there for and with them during these trying times, and can help make up for a lack of face-to-face interaction with your employees. 

#3 Employ Social Distancing Inside and Out

Social distancing is our new reality and several practices can be implemented to create more space for guests as they engage with your business. Due to the sensitivity of health concerns and the privacy of containing individual’s medical information, many cannabis dispensaries already restrict the number of customers within their retail store with physical waiting rooms, and upon entry they use aisle markers to section off the flow of traffic to well spaced out checkout stations. They also tend to utilize touchless surfaces to showcase their products and/or contain the bulk of what customers buy in a separate storage space. If you haven’t already implemented these practices, now is a good time to do so. 

In addition if your store is limited in square footage, please factor that into how many people you allow in at the same time. Offering curbside pickup is an excellent solution to remedy the situation in a responsible way. 

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

Lastly, another form of a physical barrier that is globally becoming well known during COVID-19 is a face covering or mask. Encourage and require both your customers and employees to wear face coverings while interacting within and around your cannabis dispensary. You can even utilize NextME’s text messaging system to let those waiting in their cars know when your staff will be delivering products so they can reapply their mask if needed. This will help protect everyone against the spread of potentially infectious germs, and is in alliance with the CDC safety guidelines

The keys to making cannabis dispensaries safer during COVID-19 are effective communication and a welcoming environment.

The keys to making your dispensary safer during COVID-19 are effective communication, which NextME’s waitlist software encourages, and a welcoming environment that offers a variety of purchasing options. Using our technology allows you to minimize crowds within your store to improve your guests' overall experiences, strategically implement digital signage which helps make up for a lack of customer-employee interaction, and receive real-time data that shows actual wait times and customer retention rates. When these tools are combined with valuable social distancing protocols, face masks, and the option of curbside pick-up, your customers will feel connected and confident enough to keep coming back. 

If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can help your dispensary operate safely and efficiently during the COVID pandemic and beyond, follow this link to reach out. Together we can make the difference in your clients’ new shopping experience.


NextME Virtual Waitlist App Official Partner for Dine Out West Lakeview Chicago, IL

How Virtual Waitlists Can Help Reopen the Economy During COVID-19

Businesses are reopening, but how can we encourage customers to come back safely during COVID-19?

We are in need of individual and economic healing

Coronavirus case numbers have been rising in more than 20 states, and businesses that have reopened at limited capacity are hobbling along in hopes that both the public and the economy will recover from this detrimental blow. With recent news of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, how can we create space for healing so people are confident enough to leave their homes and businesses are safely catering to their much needed arrival? 

NextME has a solution that’s safe, smart, and step-by-step 

NextME's online waitlist system helps consumers not only feel safe, but be safe as they return to their favorite restaurants and stores. Our smart approach eases traffic, enables contactless check-in options, eliminates crowded waiting rooms, and helps businesses follow the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing. With an easy-to-use step-by-step platform that utilizes a virtual waiting room, both customers and businesses can communicate real-time status with real-time results. 

Feel safe, be safe using a virtual waitlist 

It’s 4pm and you’re starting to think about what you want for dinner. Your mind begins to process different options when it lands on a Cubano wrap from the brewery 5 blocks away. From that point on, you can’t think of anything but the ham, pulled pork, and perfectly pickled delicacy that pairs so well with an amber beer. If only you could go knowing that 1) the brewery is practicing safe measures to minimize any risks you may be exposed to, 2) you can maintain social distancing throughout the entire experience, and 3) you won’t have to wait an unknown amount of time until you can sit to enjoy your meal. 

NextME Virtual Waitlist Keeps Customers Safe During COVID

Many people are just learning about NextME’s virtual waitlist app, and they are starting to associate it with a positive step in the right direction. When they see that they can sign in to a virtual waiting room and utilize contactless check-in features prior to arrival, they know that the business they are going to cares about their health and well-being without shutting their doors. Taking precautions that nurture the ability to maintain social distance until it’s time to enter the facility, while also communicating real-time status via the virtual platform, is proving to be beneficial to every party involved. These simple yet innovative web-based solutions help people feel safe and be safe when returning to their favorite businesses. 

Virtual waiting rooms keep guests engaged even when face-to-face communication is limited

Every last Friday of the month for the past few years, you get together with a small group of your best friends. In the past your group would meet at a local diner or spend the afternoon browsing your favorite storefronts, but this month is different and it’s been awhile since you’ve all gotten together. Now that some places are open, you’ve decided to make it happen and meet at a restaurant downtown. Beyond the challenge of making the decision to go, you're all still a little uneasy. You have no idea what's open and whether or not you'll all be able to be served. If only there was a way to know more...

NextME Virtual Waitlist - Smart virtual solutions that keep guests engaged

NextME’s virtual tools provide restaurants, hospitals, retail stores, and other businesses a smart solution as they invite guests to return without compromising their well-being. The virtual waiting room provides guests easy access to the queue management process and up-to-date content so they stay informed. It's a great way to make up for the lack of customer-employee interaction that’s required by COVID-19’s enhanced safety protocols. By removing the element of uncertainty, businesses and organizations can provide the best experience possible to their guests while also keeping them engaged. 

Step by step, supporting communities in need

You and your local community are suffering during this time period that some are calling “the most severe economic contraction since the Great Depression.” What can you do to help? What can you do to support your neighboring businesses while also following national guidelines? How can you avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowds, and close contact with others yet still be an active member of society?

Dine Out West Lakeview in Chicago, Illinois is a prime example of how communities and businesses are working together to answer these very important questions. And they are doing it with NextME’s help. The Friends of Lakeview, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, is helping create outdoor dining rooms that will be shared by multiple local restaurants. The program will allow diners to enjoy food and alcoholic beverages from local restaurants in open air settings, while also using NextME’s virtual app to mitigate the crowds. 

NextME Virtual Waitlist App Official Partner for Dine Out West Lakeview Chicago, IL

NextME’s virtual app is both practical and informative. In the case of Dine Out West Lakeview, customers will be able to access important information about their community and learn more ways they can help, donate, or support specific causes while waiting within the virtual waiting room. With the ability to stay engaged, learn more, and click on ways to help, people will feel more connected to each other and the places they live. We all need resources and a sense of connection to survive, and together both individuals and businesses are finding ways to make sure those aspects are not lost within their valuable communities.

Be part of a success story

We all want to be part of a success story, and by joining NextME you’ll do precisely that. NextME has grown 1,102% since the start of the pandemic by helping reopen the economy and protecting people’s lives in the process. To continue the momentum, we are offering a referral program that gives individuals - such as yourself - the opportunity to spread the word. Learn more about our referral program so you can help create safe, smart, and step-by-step solutions for your community.  

 


A Guide to Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19

As the nation’s economy reopens, it’s time for your retail business to do the same. And NextME can help make that transition smooth and easy. With guidelines that vary from state to state and a long list of to-dos, it may feel overwhelming. We’ve simplified the process with this step-by-step guide to help your business reopen with confidence during COVID-19. 

A Guide to Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19 - NextME Waitlist AppTips on Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19, and Essential Tools that Can Help

#1 Use a Digital Reservation System

Space is of essence during social distancing, yet we are all craving a bit of normalcy and the opportunity to shop at our favorite stores. To make this possible during COVID-19, retail stores can now turn to technology and implement a digital reservation system  to help control their customer intake process. 

Welcome your guests with a reservation and/or appointment. Let them know you’re taking their health and well-being seriously by minimizing crowds and maximizing their shopping experience. Gain insights into your day-to-day operations so you can spread out customer visits, streamline your staffing requirements, and prepare for a safer environment from open to close. Although this form of preparation may be newer to retail stores, it’s proving to be successful in other industries, such as the restaurant and healthcare spaces, during this transition into the ‘new normal.’ 

#2 Make Use of Virtual Waitlist Software and Virtual Waiting Rooms that Enable Contactless Check-In

A Guide to Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist Software and Virtual Waiting Rooms

At NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than reservation platforms. Our virtual waitlist software is a new category of service that helps retail stores and other organizations stay connected to their guests at all times, thus enabling flexibility in scheduling. Unlike digital reservation systems, NextME doesn’t create expectations that customers are entitled to a specific appointment time. Rather, they're joining a virtual waitlist for same day service on a first-come first-served basis. This gives you more flexibility on when to text notify your guests to check in one-by-one versus having guests walk in assuming they're ready to be serviced. 

NextME enables contactless check-in for guests. This can be accomplished via your store's website through a customized widget, or by scanning a specialized QR code placed on your storefront. While waiting within their cars or outside, they can use NextME’s virtual waiting room to see their position in line or interact with your store’s online content. Whether you have a hot item that people want to purchase, or your store is regularly at capacity, NextME’s virtual waitlist software gives you the chance to communicate real-time status to ensure your customers never arrive disappointed! As soon as it’s safe for guests to enter, they receive a text message notification. The waitlist functions on a first-come first-served basis, yet is designed to offer same-day service. 

Already have a preferred appointment or reservation system? No problem. NextME’s virtual waitlist can easily work as an added feature in conjunction with your existing system. As an added bonus, since our platform is SMS-based, your guests don’t need to download a separate app to use it! 

#3 Establish Regular Employee Health Screening

Healthy businesses start with healthy employees. By establishing regular employee health screening before each shift, you can support the overall well-being of your staff and clientele. 

Ask your employees how they are doing. Check in with whether or not they have been feeling even the slightest bit ill lately. Encourage them to take their temperature or screen for symptoms prior to entering the premises. This will let them know you care about their well-being, while also giving them the confidence to be honest with their current state. Set the example and be dedicated to keeping everyone safe as you reopen your retail store. 

#4 Restructure Space to Allow for Social Distancing

Social distancing is our new reality and can be encouraged by restructuring your retail space to create healthy boundaries. Whether you move all the furniture, space out the clothing racks, or mark the floors with tape to specify a safe distance and flow of traffic, your customers will notice your responsible efforts. 

Physical barriers are one of the easiest ways to assure social distancing, however you still want people to move freely around your store. Mark designated browsing spaces for customers that are 6 feet apart and place arrows on the floor that follow a one-way route. Since many grocery stores have already started implementing these practices they won’t feel too restrictive or odd to your customers. Instead many will appreciate the safe direction. 

#5 Require Face Coverings for Employees and Customers

A Guide to Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19 - NextME Waitlist AppAnother form of a physical barrier that is incredibly important is a face covering or mask. Require both your customers and employees to wear face coverings while within your store. This will help protect everyone against the spread of potentially infectious germs and is in alliance with the CDC safety guidelines

#6 Implement Accessible and Frequent Sanitation Procedures

Lastly, implement accessible and frequent sanitation procedures to keep your business safe. Set up sanitation stations upon entry and throughout your store to encourage their use. Instruct your employees to pay special attention to high traffic areas and commonly used surfaces so they can disinfect them regularly throughout the day. Sanitize equipment between each use. These somewhat small practices will have a positive effect on your customers’ experiences while also encouraging businesses such as yours to remain open.  

The key to reopening your retail store during COVID-19 is effective communication and creation of a welcoming environment.

A Guide to Reopening Your Retail Store During COVID-19 - NextME Waitlist App

The key to reopening during COVID-19 is making sure your business is a welcoming and safe space for all. Utilizing new virtual tools, such as NextME’s waitlist software, will help eliminate crowded waiting rooms, enable contactless check-in and virtual communication, improve your customers’ experiences, and provide you important insights around actual wait times and guest retention rates using real-time data. Establishing regular employee health screening will support necessary safety measures. Restructuring your space will prevent overcrowding and promote healthy boundaries. Requiring face coverings will protect everyone. Implementing accessible and frequent sanitation procedures will give both your staff and clientele the confidence to keep coming back. 

If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can help your store operate safely and efficiently during the COVID pandemic and beyond, follow this link to reach out. Together we can make the difference in your clients’ new shopping experience.