Leadership Tactic #64: Create a Line

Every week or so, I’ve been allowing a few food trucks to park at my organization during lunch. They serve great food, they attract a crowd, and they donate some money to our international service trip.

Right now there are two food trucks. One of the trucks makes food to order, so there’s always a wait. It’s not uncommon for them to have a line of 25-50 people waiting to order or get their food.

The other truck has the food ready to go when you order, so you’re in and out instantly.

A few weeks ago, I complimented the owner of the second truck on their fast service. When I said that, he replied, “Actually, we could get your food out even faster, but we try to slow it down a bit to get a line.”

I heard the same thing on The Great Food Truck Race (great show) a few weeks ago: Once a truck got a line started, there was no stopping them. The short line would quickly turn into a long line.

Me, I hate waiting in lines. But having thought about them since the food truck guy mentioned it, I have to admit how powerful lines are. You always feel good when you choose a place with a line, because you know the food must be worth waiting for. It’s how I found my two favorite ramen restaurants in Kyoto–they had lines going down the block. And it’s why Ted Drewes tastes better than Mr. Wizard’s (holla, St. Louis!)–Ted Drewes always has a line.

I had just never thought that businesses would intentionally create lines–I thought lines were simply the product of popularity. But now I know. If you want to get people’s attention and make them feel good in advance about your product, find a way to create a line.

7 thoughts on “Leadership Tactic #64: Create a Line”

  1. I wonder if the line theory is true of other social stuff.
    For example: relationships/dating. If a girl has a line of guys lined up wanting to date her, are you more interested, too?
    Or religion. If a church has a lot of members and more joining each day, does that make other people more likely to look into joining it too?

    • In some ways, yes to both questions. I think there’s a certain point where a line becomes daunting, but lines can be very affirming. They affirm your attraction or your desire or you humor or your taste.

    • I’ve always found this phrase humorous: They’re lining up to date her.

      Where did this come from? At some point in history did men literally line up outside the door of a woman they were trying to court?

      Also, why is it a line? If I have multiple men interested in me, I’m not going to date one then send him away and date the next guy and send him away. It’s going to be more like a circle or a group. Maybe “They’re gathering up to date her” would be more accurate to today’s version? Or “They’re crowding up to date her” or “She has a crowd of guys wanting to date her” ? Or, my personal favorite, “She has a gaggle of guys wanting to date her.”

      Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…

      (no, it doesn’t fit here, but I wanted to continue the goose theme)

  2. A line definitely affirms the food is good! I never thought about that until Eric started doing festivals with other trucks. You definitely want to give the impression that your product is the most popular.

    I’m like you–I hate waiting in lines, esp if I’m hungry. If there’s a truck with no line, a truck with a medium line, and a truck with a long line, I will pick the medium line.

    Which food trucks are serving lunch for you guys??? That’s awesome!

    Nice choice on the pic, by the way 🙂

    • We have the Seoul Taco truck and Guerrilla (Filipino) coming every now and then. The lines they get are incredible!

      I like the pic too–I wanted to feature the best food truck ever, a little establishment called The Peached Tortilla in Austin.


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