Splitting the Line


Here is a line technique for better control of a line while giving the appearance lines are smaller.

I look up, and all I can see are eyes looking back. Moms are standing, smiling, yet I can see in their eyes they have other places to be, things to do, and standing in line for a balloon is not high on their priority list of things to do today. I realize that I need to take control of the situation. A trick that I use is to split the line into two parts. This weekend I was entertaining at baptism, and during the evening, kids started to return for second balloons. I quickly developed two lines, those who had a balloon and those who had not received a balloon.

Creating two lines showed the parent’s stress level drop as they moved to the second line, “We did not get a balloon yet.” With lines established, I can address the needs of the people who did not receive a balloon and those on their second balloon.

I am always amazed at how patient a child will wait once you establish who gets what and when. Parents like that detail to attention, which reduces their wait time, which is a win-win for them.

I have used this technique for decades and have split lines based on gender or design. The gender split is typically for private parties. Girls are seeking princesses and butterflies, while the boy’s motorcycle and aliens. I learned that “popular” requests are redundant. Making six consecutive Little Mermaids is mind-numbing for me; if I can toss in an alien, motorcycle, or T-Rex, and it breaks up the monotonous run of duplicating a design, I stay fresh and creative.

There have been times when I needed to be an armory and dispatch swords and have created special lines for quick weapons, hats, or flowers. Whatever I feel is popular, and in high demand, I will create a line. If the request stops, or I finish the line, I may reevaluate the line and ask, “Does anybody in line want a hat? The hat line starts here!”

The splitting of one line helps with cutting a line off also. Instead of having a line that is 12 people long, you can break the line down, moving the ends of the lines closer. This allows me to tell all latecomers the line is closed.

I have used splitting the line at large birthday parties and festivals – when I am trying to leave, and private parties where time is plentiful. 

5 thoughts on “Splitting the Line”

  1. That’s a technique I never thought of. Similarly, however, in line work, if someone wants something more time consuming than most, I have them stand aside and I make their sculpture a little at a time, in between working with the rest of the line. That way, they “pay” for my efforts by waiting longer, the line continues to move, and those watching could see that if they wanted something bigger they would have to wait for it.

  2. Im not sure how your two lines work. the didnt get one line. do they get serviced first and then after going through that line completely you then go to the 2nd or more line? If not how does this 2 line thing help the situation except making the line look shorter. folks can count everyone in both lines and see its sthe same amt of folks waiting.

  3. Jim, If one line is only balloon swords, I can crank out 3-4 in a minute. So I make a complected balloon, 2-3 minutes to create, knockoff 3-4 swords, then back to complicated line. If the parents don’t want to wait they can always convince their child to get a simpler balloon. The goal in the long run is to keep the line moving, and make the buyer happy. Once you remove the quick stuff out of the line, it make the appearance that things are moving faster. Once you achieved that the complaints are reduced.

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