Imagine a busy Saturday at your store, library or museum. You’ve known for a while that these afternoons always have the most foot traffic, and you’ve done what you think is necessary to prepare for the surplus. It started off as a great day with customers and patrons flowing in and out, but then an hour into your most hectic afternoon of the week, you begin to notice that your staff or volunteers are really struggling to keep up with demands, and people are getting upset at increased wait times. You remember this happening before, but you learned your lesson, and took steps to prevent it from happening again by comparing the numbers week to week and making sure you had the staff. What happened?
The problem lies in the numbers themselves. Most likely, your past counts were off, resulting in inadequate staffing. If foot traffic isn’t recorded accurately, you can only guess how many employees you’ll actually need on any given day. Everyone who runs a business effectively knows they need to accurately measure foot traffic. The benefits to this practice are numerous:
- It helps you manage your facility and staffing needs.
- It provides you with more accurate budgeting and forecasting.
- You’re able to make business decisions related to traffic flow based on actual data, rather than guesswork.
Think you might need to upgrade your current people counting methods? Here’s how you can know for sure:
- You are doing manual counts.
We feel your pain if you still use this outdated people counting method and have to rely on pen and paper to count people. If you’re currently in this situation, do yourself a favor and switch to an automated system to measure foot traffic. You and all of your staff have much better, more profitable ways you could be spending your time. Not only that, it’s really difficult for humans to get an accurate measure when a place is busy. Nowadays, you can even find thermal sensors that can use body heat to track customer movements around your store, so you don’t just know how many people are coming in, but which sections they’re more likely to go to.
- You are using horizontal cross beam sensors.
Cross beams aren’t as tired as manual counts, but they’re still less accurate and less efficient than overhead sensors. If people often arrive in groups, horizontal sensors are more likely to give you false foot traffic recordings. While they may be okay in small doorways that don’t leave room for more than one person to enter at a time, you might be better off switching to a thermal or video sensor that can give you spot-on counts no matter the size of the group coming in.
- Your current solution cannot distinguish between adults and children.
This is a big one if you operate a library, museum, casino, or any business where you would benefit from distinguishing between adults, children, — even service animals. Horizontal sensors and thermal sensors by themselves are unable to analyze the type of foot traffic entering your place of business; they can only measure the overall volume, and sometimes not very accurately at that. If you need to know more than a head count, a combination of a thermal and video sensor will be your best bet at categorizing patronage.
Keep your bases covered.
If your palms got sweaty just from imagining the stress of the scenario at the beginning of this post, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, this pops up all too often, making customers wonder why the owners aren’t staffing their business the way they should. Worse yet, customers generally aren’t very understanding when it happens. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you in the future is to have an accurate, efficient way to measure your foot traffic with a modern people counting solution, so you can stay ahead of the game.