This is our first blog post, where we explain how WalkIn started, where we've got to today - and a quick look into our plans for 2019. We'll be posting updates on our blog regularly, so keep an eye out! 👀
If you'd like to find out more, drop us a message via our website or email us at [email protected]
Queuing. Nobody likes it. Especially when you're hungry. Yet at some of the most popular restaurants across London, you still have to stand in line and wait to get to your favourite food! 😭
These amazing restaurants that you've had to queue outside for are some of the best in town; and although they would love to provide an amazing dining experience where you don't have to stand in line, they haven't had a way of doing so without losing money...Until now.
By the end of the year we want to be able to say: “Queuing is dead in London.” We hope you’ll be part of that journey 😎
At the end of 2017 we had no idea where to start, all we knew was that queuing sucked and we wanted to do something about it. We started asking restaurants what they thought about their queues, and the idea of potentially making them more 'virtual'.
Pretty much everyone thought we were crazy to even consider getting rid of their queues; “It’s great advertising for us”, “we can turn tables faster”, “our customers enjoy waiting” were all reasons we heard for why WalkIn was a bad idea.
...Pretty much everyone...apart from Hana, the General Manager and General Legend of Eggbreak - the award winning restaurant in Notting Hill. Their queue was getting bigger every week, customers weren’t crazy about waiting and Hana wanted to give her customers an even better experience. Hana had a meeting with us and at the end asked “so when we can start?” We said “two months” (with no product…classic startup) 😳
Immediately we got to work on the product and realised we didn’t know how to build a system that could help manage a restaurant. Whoops. The story would of probably ended there had Frazer not been able to convince Just Eat to let us pitch for their Startup Accelerator programme 🙌
We made an aspirational (and looking back - very corny) application video, built some concepts of the way we saw our system working plus a bunch of other stuff. After the final round of the pitches, Just Eat changed our lives forever and offered us a place! 🎉
Through Just Eat's programme, they gave us an office for 3 months, some funding and most importantly mentoring to start our journey. We quit our jobs and went for it. It was time to start phase 1; turning the physical queue into a virtual one!
We turned it on in November 2017 and immediately realised we had got about half of our assumptions right and the other half of completely wrong; who knew that parties bigger than 6 would come to a restaurant? 😬
After going back to the drawing board, restructuring our company and a bunch of other learning experiences we launched properly in February 2018.
The first launch had it’s issues but the one in February was life changing. Customers were hi-fiving us on the door because they didn’t have to wait. We saw for the first time that WalkIn had made a small, but positive difference to the world, where we saved 411 people over 2 days of their collective time because they didn’t have to stand in line! We were hooked. Eggbreak broke their all time sales record by 15%. WalkIn has been online ever since. 🚀
We’ve always had a strong belief that a technology company should write it’s own code and the legends at Eggbreak gave us the vital feedback we needed to make our RMS what it is today. Our joint focus was to make it easy enough that anyone could use it, yet powerful enough that a restaurant could break it’s sales record on days with queues, not to mention alleviating the massive stress of having to manage an angry mob queuing in the rain ⛈
Hana and the Eggbreak team were the first restaurant partner that believed in a world where diners didn’t have to queue and wanted to be part of it That’s why if you ever go you’ll see a sign mentioning they are the true OG. 🤓
The WalkIn Restaurant Management System
We realised before we could take the leap of letting diners join the queue from an extended distance, we needed to ensure diners who came to the door had an awesome experience first and foremost 🚶♂️. We did this by giving the diners a live weblink. This enabled and still enables diners to:
· Join the queue at the door
· Open your WebLink (via text) to see your queuing data
· Chat to the restaurant in real time
· Come back for your table when the restaurant notifies you!
An early version of the WalkIn WebLink
We then got our next big break, The Breakfast Club.
Turns out the free LinkedIn premium trial was pretty useful and as a result we got a chance meeting with Jonathan Arana-Morton; the Founder and head of legendary brand The Breakfast Club. Jonathan and the team (shout out to Taylor, Tom and Colin) gave us a shot in their Hoxton and Hackney Wick sites. After working with us for a couple of weeks, they blew our minds and signed up! 🥰
Following on from that, we signed the award winning steak restaurant group Flat Iron as our 3rd customer after a chance meeting with Amos’ dog Mickey bumping into someone who knew the Managing Director of Flat Iron.
We spend the rest of the year marching across London, helping restaurants manage their insane levels of demand with a best in class system that they could help shape and design.
Throughout that time and as the system grew, we've had the opportunity to work with some of the busiest restaurants around London, including: The Breakfast Club, Flat Iron, Kiln, Hoppers, Din Tai Fung and Padella.
Everyone in this photo is 'queuing' for The Breakfast Club at Hackney Wick 😎
Jonathan, the aforementioned Founder of the The Breakfast Club had this to say:
"The impact of WalkIn was immediate with a significant like for like increase in sales on our trial site from day one. This has since transferred across our estate. Sales have increased, customers are much happier and our staff bought in - win win.
The support from WalkIn in terms of our operations has been exceptional throughout, they have been an absolute pleasure to work with."
2018 was only the beginning for us, and so far we've seated over 800,000 people through WalkIn. The plan for 2019 is to end queuing in London and we would love you to be part of that journey with us. The biggest way whether you’re a diner, restaurant or just someone who’s interested - is to help us with Phase 2.
The second phase of WalkIn is to take queuing for restaurants to a whole new level, starting with allowing diners to join queue's from up to 2km away 🤩
For you as a diner, it means you don't have to go to the restaurant to get in line. You can join the queue on the tube or at your desk - then just make your way to your table when it's ready!
Use the WalkIn App (available on both Android and iOS) to join the queue remotely for some of the busiest restaurants in London!
For the restaurant, it also enables them to provide an even better service 🤩
· No more adding people at the door
· Identify repeat customers before they arrive
· For restaurants with multiple sites, diners will automatically gravitate to sites with the wait time relevant to them
· Increased revenue in non-peak times
As new restaurants join WalkIn, we need to gather a few weeks of data using the Phase 1 version of the system worth of data to be able to accurately provide a wait time quote to enable Remote Queuing. Once that's all done, our Machine Learning Wait Time Engine constantly checks against each restaurants wait time data to get even more accurate. It’s specific to every restaurant so we’re way more accurate than anyone else can be, once we’ve gone live in the restaurant we’re only going to get more accurate with time. 🤓
We hate queues. We know you do too! As part of that, it's really important that when using remote queuing it's properly managed. As a diner you should be rewarded if you consistently show up to restaurants on time when called. And the bad apples out there shouldn’t mean you have to wait longer than necessary for your table.
As the app grows we have and will continue to build in a series of checks and balances to ensure that everyone using WalkIn is a 'Good Queuer.'
Map view on the WalkIn app. Join the queue from anywhere inside 2km of your location!
Behind the scenes we have several checkpoints that we measure against when a diner is queuing for a radius. Diners that consistently turn up for their table when called for will always be given the maximum possible opportunity to join queues for the best restaurants around! 🚀
Conversely, those who don't turn up for their table, or don't leave the queue when they know they're not going to go to the restaurant could have their opportunities restricted 😢
Don't Queue. WalkIn.
Everyone at WalkIn is driven by wanting to end queuing in London and around the world forever. It’s 2019, you can pretty much 3D print a kidney but you have to wait in line in the rain still. This is something we’re trying to change but we need your help; we need diners to adopt the movement of 'Don't Queue' 😈
We need restaurants who are brave enough and care enough about their customer experience to embrace technology that will put a smile on diners faces. All the while making the restaurant more money. We also need awesome people that can help us on our way to achieving our mission. That’s why we’ve written this blog as it’s our call out to you, if you think we should live in a world where you never have to queue again and you want the 2 years of your life back that you lose from waiting in line then come be part of WalkIn! We’re never going to do it on our own, but with your help we just might 😉.
Know a restaurant? 🍽
If you know a restaurant that could do with help managing their queue, use the contact form on our website and we'll get in touch!
Join Us! 👨👩👧👦
If you hate queues as much as we do, take a look at our career posts! We're on the hunt for new Walkinites to help get rid of queues everywhere!
That’s what we want to be saying at the end of this year about queues in London and then around the world. We have big plans for 2019, to seat millions of people, work with hundreds of restaurants and change diner's behaviours towards queuing remotely with WalkIn.
Follow us on our Social Media, and keep an eye out for future blog posts where we'll talk more about our strategy for 2019, new restaurants that we're working with and new product releases!
Much ❤️ from the WalkIn Team!