Exit waiting in line, enter QLess

Chris Caceres · January 14, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/d11

QLess wants to eliminate the act of standing in line from the face of the earth

Imagine if you never had to stand in line again...if every time you showed up somewhere, it was your turn to go.  That's the vision of Alex Backer, founder and CEO of QLess.  

Based out of Southern California, QLess develops a line management platform that lets users input a cell-phone number, and then pings them when it's that users turn to go.  The software is quite advanced: for example, if a user is told they'll be paged in about an hour, that person can go shop around or grab a cub of coffee, etc, and receive a text 15 minutes before their appointment or reservation is met, so they can be sure to be back on time.  

The use cases are quite endless.  The product is a great addition for places like restaurants, salons, government services, theme parks, and many more - basically any place where you stand in line or wait around for services. 

And QLess is starting to get adopted by many of these.  It can already be found in several restaurants including Border Grill in Santa Monica, Ca.  And for all of us who hate sitting around at the DMV, Johnson County's DMV has integrated QLess...if only all of them would adopt it.

This documentary-style segment of Startup Sessions, guided by Backer himself, takes us behind the scenes of what QLess is all about, how the idea was birthed, the startup's business model, and we even check out Border Grill to see how they implement QLess into their restaurant.  Check it out and let us know what you think.

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QLessTM: The Mobile Queueing, Marketing & CRM Company


The average American spends more than 2 years of her/his life waiting in lines. A line is an age-old invention to move demand from a time when it exceeds supply to one in which it does not. It is a lossy and wasteful one, for many prospective customers leave while they wait, and many become frustrated. Selected one of the Best Business Innovations by the 2009 American Business Awards, QLessTM uses mobile phones to eliminate the need to wait in a particular place in space while waiting (in time), with no special-purpose hardware or software needed.


QLessTM is a virtual line management system that allows guests to hold their spot in line using their cell phones.  Guests enter the virtual line for a table or appointment from their phones, the web or via a hostess, and then receive phone call or text message updates letting them know when they are ready to be served.  QLessTM is interactive: guests can call or text at any time for on-demand updates, can push themselves back in the line if they need more time, or leave the line. Mobile queueing serves as an opt-in point for highly targeted, local & timely mobile marketing, and the data collected creates the new category of mobile CRM, opening up a wealth of service personalization possibilities.


Try one of our demos by calling 877-4-0-LINES877-4-0-LINES  (877-405-4637877-405-4637 ) . More information available at http://waitinginlinesucks.com .


We conservatively estimate the total available market for QLess at over $36billion/year. 2+ years of each American life lost waiting represents 6.9% of the average work-life expectancy, or $936 billion of the GDP lost yearly that could be reclaimed with QLess, an independent validation of the tremendous value of solving the waiting problem.




>       Enables customers to join a line remotely.Join “virtual waitlists” by calling or text-messaging from their cell phones,by instant-messaging (IM), or through the Web.

>       Gives consumers room to roam.Pursue whatever activities they want, wherever they wish, while QLess holds their place in line

>       Promotes Public Health.By dispersing customers, there is less waiting in crowded environments where germs naturally spread.

>       Lets customer tweak their arrival time.Consumers can “push back” their place in line any number of minutes. Everybody else’s wait gets adjusted accordingly.

>       Plan ahead. Obtain estimated wait-times (which QLess calculates automatically, even factoring in no-shows and turn-aways along with other wait-time elements).



·        Increased customer satisfaction.Our customers have experienced a surge in positive reviews in sites such as Yelp, and these mention QLessTM.

·        Increase revenues. Allow customers to shop while they wait. American shoppers spend about $1/min while shopping at a mall.

·        Reduce no-shows by 15% to 40% & turn-aways by 75%. Freedom increases patience, and QLess acts as a digital tether to reel prospective customers into our customers' businesses when the business is ready to serve them.

·        Brings the power of web analytics to brick & mortar shops. Average wait time, customer outcomes(served vs. abandoned, ...), customer geography, customer return rates customer by customer, per wait time, day visited, time visited, employee, unprecedented visibility into what makes customers tick.  

·        Mobile Marketing. 80% to 96% of QLess users provide us with their cell phone numbers. Users can opt in to SMS &/or voice coupons, news & more.

·        Personalization. QLessTM allows customers to personalize their every interaction with each patron, keeping track of previous visits and preferences (language, …).

·        Maximize throughput. Active dynamic scheduling eliminates appointment-based scheduling in favor of appointments updated in real-time based on the duration of prior appointments and real-time mobile communications.

·        Can be deployed anywhere lines form. No specialized software or hardware necessary. Because QLessTMis a hosted Web application, all a customer needs is a laptop, tablet or phone and an Internet connection. 

·        Learns over time.Gets smarter and smarter. Sophisticated algorithms allow QLessTM, to project increasingly accurate wait times based on real-time and historical data. QLess proved that wait time forecast accuracy predicts customer return rates. 

·        Allows simultaneous and remote viewing of the Queue. Any number of users can log on and manage the line simultaneously. Perfect for remote oversight. 

·        Environmentally Friendly. By shifting ticket generation from the physical to the virtual,companies no longer need to print tickets or keep physical pagers. 



QLess allows advertisers to reach customers:

Ø with unprecedented targeting capabilities, based on:

o  the customer’s exact location at the time of receiving the ad

o  what they are trying to do at the time of receiving the ad

o  their purchase history and lifestyle

Ø at a time when they are waiting, and thus receptive to distractions;

Ø as they are entering a point of sale (e.g. retail establishment).



QLessTM has been successfully deployed at a number of award-winning restaurants, DMVs, colleges, retail stores, healthcare, transportation, and government facilities, including the City of Austin, and has freed more than 100,000 users from standing in line. QLess will be soon deployed at a number of leading facilities in the gaming, theme park and beauty industries, too.


The Team

The team includes an award-winning Ph.D. and veteran entrepreneur from MIT, Caltech and McKinsey who's already grown another company from conception to profitability, an experienced technology leader from Yahoo who has already grown a number of successful start-ups and an experienced sales team.



QLess has grown revenues by an average of 200% per year since launch. Customers range in size from small independent restaurants to T-mobile. Testimonials include:

“I think overall it’s a very good system. Customers really like it. The day we had a really long wait, everything was perfect.. On a 1 to 10 scale, I’d give it a 9. Educating people [about their wait] helps tremendously. It’s perfect, it really is.”
--Patricia Rogers, Citizen Services Director, Office of the Mayor, City of Nashua, NH.

“Any simpler and it would do it itself!... At our Divisional Staff meeting Sherry had some very complimentary things to say about Qless and it’s staff as well. We would like you to consider us a strong reference for your firm should you wish to provide my contact info to any potential opportunity.” –John Barker, IT Director, Motor Vehicle Registration.

QLess is a great friggen idea!
--Mike Schroepfer, VP Engineering, Facebook


More testimonials can be provided upon request.



 QLess has been featured in Mashable, the New York Times blog by Freakonomics authors, Nation's Restaurant News, QSR Web (Quick Service Restaurants), the American Academy of Family Physicians, Mobile Marketer, Aviation Week, Chain Store Age and blogs around the world. See qless.com/press for details.