Qudini CEO Imogen Wethered is thriving where so many have failed.
It’s a skill we British are meant to have, but let’s face it: no one likes waiting in line.
Yet, as we enter the festive season, we’re likely to clock up hours – even days – stuck in mind-numbing queues at shop tills, restaurants and bars.
Fortunately for you, Imogen Wethered is on a mission to streamline your life.
Her business Qudini means that whether you’re upgrading your phone in an O2 store, you’re salivating at the thought of steak at a Flat Iron restaurant, or getting an NHS checkup for STDs, you shouldn’t face a frustrating wait.
Qudini is quite literally killing the queue at over 2,200 locations across the UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany, the USA, India – even Australia.
That’s 14 million customers a month who are already feeling the benefit.
Are you ready to roll up?
The idea is simple – whether you’re visiting a shop, restaurant, or any Qudini partner.
First, instead of being left flapping behind strangers like a penguin, you can book your appointment in advance. If you do this, you’ll get text reminders with a link to a webpage that shows live updates of your time slot in the queue.
Even better, Qudini makes life better for those who simply walk in.
In this case, you’re not dealt with by a stressed out concierge with a clipboard and pen who has no idea when you’ll be seen or seated.
You add your mobile number to a digital Qudini queue at a kiosk, on your smartphone, or with a member of staff. And again, you’ll then benefit from a text with a link to a webpage that lets you know when you’ll be seen, taking the store’s real-time activities into account.
It’s not even necessarily about reducing the time before your seen, but – in the same what that countdown boards do in London’s tube stations – helping you feel confident and comfortable about the wait ahead.
Qudini means those who visit London’s Burrell St Sexual Health Clinic can pop back to work, or wander to a nearby cafe before their check-up.
If there’s no table at Honest Burger, The Diner, or Flat Iron, you can pop for a drink next door knowing a table will be waiting for you.
While holidaymakers can enjoy the time they spend in town before they plan their travels at Thomas Cook.
“English people are very good at just sitting in a queue, but it doesn’t mean that it makes them happy,” says Wethered.
“Our main goal is to help customers form much better relationships with these businesses, by letting them use their time productively to phone a friend or do something rather than just stand there,” says Wethered.
It’s hardly the first time that some savvy entrepreneur has promised to stop queues in their tracks: Sabre (formally Bar Pass) fell short of getting your drinks quicker, while Q App failed to cut queues at Britain’s gig and sports venues.
But Wethered says that the success of Qudini lies in approaching the world’s everyday queueing nightmare as a business problem first.
When the entrepreneur was on Telefonica’s Wayra business accelerator, for example, she noticed that in O2 stores disgruntled customers were ducking out because it was anyone’s guess when they’d really be seen.
With Qudini, staff can now manage their time better and the number of O2 shop walkouts has fallen by 62%. This means happier, more productive, staff, and more content customers in stores to sell to.
“A lot of other businesses that start with an app or a consumer proposition, that’s not doing things the correct way round,” Wethered explains.
“You’ve got to think about the businesses and making it useful for them, or else they’re not going to use it.”
This business-first approach is one reason the pub chain Wetherspoons has done so well with its own queue-free ordering app, Wethered adds, especially given that most big names don’t want a third-party app to confusing their brand message.
Qudini does also, of course, charge businesses a monthly subscription for its services.
This is usually between £60-155 a month (if the business sends text messages to a lot of customers, Qudini has to foot a larger mobile bill). It might sound like a lot, but for many, it will work out a steal.
One restaurant that’s paying around £99 a month is now able to keep an additional 100 customers a night, says Wethered: “Each customer pays about £10 or more per meal – so they’re already making £1000 back in the first night.”
Next, Wethered plans to scale Qudini across the globe, which we thinks sounds great.
Remember, no one likes queues – whether you’re British or not.