Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Science and Economics of Snow Cones

I recently hung out with a group of friends and we decided to go get snow cones.  The particular snow cone shack was chosen because it always had a line and lots of people sitting at tables outside of the shack. Little did we know, that that was not a positive thing.

We waited probably 10 minutes in line before we were able to place our orders.  Part of the hold up was that this particular snow cone shack had a rewards program.  Really, it's a snow cone shack. I think that the cheap price and the fact that they are only available 3 months out of the year would be arguments against having a rewards program.  After I placed my order, I was informed that it would be a 15 minute wait (yep, you read that right).

The 15 minute wait (and it was indeed that long of a wait), was inexplicable considering that there were 4 employees in that shack, and of course due to the fact that the product is snow cones.  Admittedly there were options to have more than the typical two ingredients that comprise snow cones (shaved ice and flavored syrup), such as ice cream and sweetened condensed milk.  However, these additions could only have added 15 seconds to the preparation time.

This snow cone shack could not have been running more inefficiently or stupidly, which is ridiculous because they are snow cones NOT rocket science.  That comparison is ineffectual, it's too broad, but I am not going to even try to come up with better comparison because that would be more work than making a snow cone (probably would take less time to think of one though than to make a snow cone though, haha!)  They were making snow cones, there's really no margin for error because there's no possible way to err in making a snow cone (although they for sure tried their hardest by being so slow).  I failed to see the purpose of 4 employees, because they certainly weren't expediting a 30 second process, in fact quite the opposite.  The biggest slow-down was that they only had one shaved ice machine--but I didn't know how to kindly suggest that they get a few more ice machines and get rid of the extra staff.

Not only was it a super long wait for little payoff (I mean snow cones are good, but not a fifteen minute wait good), but I paid a pretty penny for that stupid snow cone.  They definitely have a high profit margin, although I guess they would need a high profit margin to pay for all the extra useless staff.

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