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How to maximize your cloakroom

At Chexology, we are proud to be the thought leaders that have turned checkroom services into wonderful experiences. We started the “old-fashioned way” as attendants using paper claim tickets and equipment that was not designed for speed or seasonal changes in demand.

At the time, the global stigma was that cloakrooms were a pain, slow, and should not be trusted. Over the years, Chexology developed a consultative advantage as our niche expertise, and knowledge base grew. We became process improvers, system builders, and data aggregators across hundreds of large and small operations around the world. We have brought the checkroom into the 21st century through design, innovative technology, and execution.

Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned from our days with the cloakroom paper claim ticket.

How do claim tickets work?

What is the difference between cloakroom tickets and cloakroom tags?

Cloakroom tickets are pieces of paper with matching numbers on them - usually a two-part or three-part ticket for single use. The top ticket with the hole is put on the coat hanger with the coat while the bottom piece is given to the guest. The coats are then hung sequentially so that when the guest returns with their ticket, their items can be easily found by searching and matching the numbers. If there is a middle ticket, this is great for a secondary item like a bag or umbrella (have a tape ready).

These tickets are not eco-friendly since they are paper, and you can’t reuse the same tickets because guests either lose them, fall off hangers, or drinks spill, get wet, etc. Once that paper ticket is lost, that item becomes a needle in a haystack, which will cause bottlenecks and long lines at the end of your event.

Our paperless cloakroom system uses coat tags typically made of plastic and reusable. One NFC-embedded coat tag can be used for thousands of transactions. With both paper cloakroom tickets and our plastic cloakroom tags, anyone can pick up a dropped ticket or tag and retrieve an item that is not theirs, leaving you to deal with unwanted claims. A guest can also claim that their item was damaged while it was stored in your checkroom since there is no evidence with either claim method.

We built Chexology (formally known as CoatChex), a ticketless system, to replace the above cloakroom claim alternatives and enhance the process by using guests’ phone numbers, item pictures, and guest pictures. There is nothing to hold on to, nothing to lose, and all the guest provides to retrieve their coat is their phone number or the text message they may have received, and you can match up the item and guest pictures for added security. Optional marketing messages can also be sent with CTA links guiding guests to social media pages or websites. You can send guests who’ve left an item behind a message with instructions on how to retrieve their items - no more dealing with next-day phone calls! Claims can now be handled more confidently since you have item pictures to refer to as evidence. Long gone are the days when someone could make a false claim for an expensive or damaged jacket.

What can I do to prevent handing the wrong items to the wrong people if someone loses a claim ticket?

  • When using the 2-part or 3-part cloakroom tickets, you can write down the guest’s initials and phone number on the ticket that is put on the hanger. Initials should also be written on the ticket given to the guest to make sure it all matches up when they come to retrieve their items.

  • Note: When writing initials and phone numbers, keep in mind that handwriting can be hard to read, especially in a checkroom without adequate lighting. This will ultimately lead to more time spent locating a guest’s items. Our ticketless cloakroom system allows you to grab the guest's phone number and associate a tag number to it, reducing the time it takes to read a ticket and find the items at checkout.

  • Be sure to hang items in sequential order to make it easier to find and retrieve these items. We have found that it is best to “snake” racks around the room with the lowest numbers on the bottom tier of the rack and the higher numbers on the top tiers of the rack. That way, if the guest can remember approximately what time they checked in, you can at least identify which tier and which rack their items should be stored on.

With our ticketless cloakroom system, you won't have to worry about

How do I track my revenue?

  • Great question! With a standard cloakroom paper ticket or plastic tag system, keeping accurate track of revenue is a pretty complex process. With cloakroom tickets and tags, You’ll have to trust that your team isn’t double hanging and pocketing the extra cash, new batches of cloakroom paper tickets are used, and math skills are above par.

  • For cloakroom 2-part or 3-part tickets, keeping track of revenue will require a new batch of tickets to use each night. You make a note of the first number and subtract the last used cloakroom ticket number from the first to get a total of items at the end of the night. You then multiply that difference by the price per item to get revenue for the night. Keep in mind that staff can skim cash by re-using tickets and double hanging to pocket the extra cash. There is no way to make sure this does not happen.

  • With cloakroom plastic tags, you can subtract the last number from the first number and multiply by the price per item to get your total revenue. However, this is less accurate since there is a chance that hangers with cloakroom plastic tags are going to be used more than once and don’t eliminate double hanging. Using this method will require complete trust in your staff when it comes to revenue tracking.

With Chexology (formally known as CoatChex), our digital, ticketless cloakroom system, keeping track of revenue is easy. You log into the web portal and immediately have access to reports of past days and real-time tracking of transactions. That way, you can pop into your checkroom and do a quick spot check to make sure that staff isn’t double-hanging and pocketing the extra cash.

What if I don't have the space?

  • With our experience setting up checkrooms at the MoMA, Javits Center, and Webster Hall, to name a few, we are happy to walk through your operation and provide recommendations.

  • Typically, for a standard checkroom, we recommend going with two-tier, 5-foot Z-racks as you can fit up to 5 light jackets per foot. For the heavier coats, we recommend going with 6-foot two-tier, Z-racks as you can fit up to 4 of those thicker coats per foot.

  • As far as hangers are concerned, we recommend the open-hook, heavy-duty metal hangers linked here. They are not only very sturdy but should you go with our ticketless cloakroom solution, the coat tags are much easier to attach.

  • For larger operations, conveyors can be used to maximize real estate based on the available space. The only downside is that it will take some time for attendants to walk up to the conveyor control, type in the ticket number, and wait for the conveyor to bring said item to the front. This can cause long lines at the end of the day and if a guest loses their tag, taking time to spin the conveyor for them adds to the bottleneck.

Here at Chexology, our team built an integration with conveyors to dramatically reduce the wait times for items to come up. Once you type a guest’s number on the app, it will communicate with the conveyors and have the items come up. You can then queue up another guest’s items while waiting for the first items to come up, which eliminates having to wait to give back the first guest’s items before calling up the next guest’s items.

We hope this FAQ was helpful!

Please visit our website here if you are interested in connecting with us. We look forward to connecting with you and providing our expert advice to build a successful checkroom. In our experience, ticketless is always best ;)

Derek Pacqué, CEO and Founder of Chexology, started in the cloakroom business back when he was at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. There weren’t many local establishments offering cloakrooms to their patrons, the local college students. So, one night, Derek was out with his friends, and he always had a spot where he stashed his coat and was able to retrieve it. That night, he wasn’t particularly lucky - his coat was stolen, and he had to walk home in the freezing weather without anything. This inspired him to start the Hoosier Coat Check with paper claim tickets and some additional features that would later become CoatChex.

The Hoosier Coat Check was a pop-up cloakroom business that Derek and some of his friends ran during the weekends at the local establishments. They set up racks and hangers to store the coats and used paper claim tickets to keep them in order. They quickly realized that though these cloakroom tickets make the process fast, there are pain points they couldn’t solve. What happens when someone loses the cloakroom ticket? What if they leave their coat behind? How do you make sure you’re giving the right coat back to the right owner? How do you avoid someone randomly picking up a coat check ticket off the floor and claiming a coat that is not theirs? How can you handle claims and make sure that, as an owner, you aren’t being lied to? And so forth and so on.

To avoid some of these problems that exist with the cloakroom ticket, Derek and the Hoosier Coat Check crew decided to add some pieces of information that would be needed during the check-in process, such as phone numbers and initials. They’d have an Excel sheet that people could fill out with their phone numbers and matching ticket numbers and write the person’s initials on the cloakroom ticket to provide an additional layer of security when patrons are picking up their coats. They would then organize the coats by snaking them around the room, starting with the lowest number. This would ensure that they could quickly locate where a coat was stored as they wrote the number ranges on pieces of paper that they would tape to the top of each rack. If there were any coats left over, they would call the guest with the matching cloakroom ticket and phone number the next day and offer to deliver the coat for a fee. This relieved the managers from having to deal with phone calls the next day about leftover items and provided an additional stream of income for the crew.

If you are ever planning on using paper cloakroom tickets in your checkroom, be sure to add these pieces of information to your process so that you can make sure coats stay organized, are giving the right items back to the right person, have a way to contact guests if they leave items behind, and make some additional income by providing a delivery service for these items. The more organized the process is, the quicker you can get people in and out of the venues, so it is imperative to make sure little things like cloakroom ticket number ranges are written on the racks for easier retrieval. With that said, Derek slowly began to think about an app that would revolutionize the cloakroom checking process entirely while solving these pain points that existed with the paper cloakroom ticket.

Shark Tank

Soon after, Derek and a group of friends developed an MVP (minimum value product) for a digital cloakroom system that they would call CoatChex. This app allowed venue owners to completely replace the cloakroom ticket and the headaches that came along with it. Here’s how the app was built to work - guest walks up to the kiosk (iPad) and is prompted to enter their phone number, which will serve as their claim ticket; the attendant then scans a barcode placed on the hanger at the time, which would link the tag number with the guest phone number and also send them a text message with their digital claim ticket. The app would also use the front camera to take a picture of the guest and the back camera to take a picture of the items as they are being stored. Now, can a paper cloakroom ticket do that?!

With this MVP ready, Derek submitted a last-minute application to get on the show Shark Tank and pitch his idea to Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, and Robert Herjavic. Mark Cuban was an alumnus of the Kelley School of Business, so Derek hoped to work that connection for a good deal. Mark Cuban offered Derek a $200,000 deal for 33% equity in the company. Derek was not prepared to give up a third of his company for such a low valuation, but he believed in his app and was determined to eliminate the paper cloakroom ticket and provide a better solution, so he turned Mark down. Though it was a hard decision, it is one Derek was happy to have made, given the success he found even after turning down the offer.

CoatChex Now

Fast forward a few years later, CoatChex incorporated Chexology to include bag check and rentals as part of its family of products/services. If there is a rental or storage service provided with a paper claim ticket or some sort of identification being held, CoatChex can now replace these antiquated paper processes. Not only are you eliminating paper waste, but you are also providing a hassle-free service where guests don’t have to worry about holding onto and potentially losing a paper cloakroom ticket. And with a digital platform, you have access to back-end reporting to better keep track of revenue, understand guest trends such as busiest times, and take actions such as sending outstanding messages reminding guests to pick up or return their items.

CoatChex counts American Express, Nike, Barclays Center, House of Blues, Live Nation, and Museum of Modern Art as part of its clientele. The Javits Center recently joined this prestigious group. Each of these brands didn’t choose CoatChex just because of the digital portion of it but because the team also has intimate knowledge of best practices to ensure that the operation would run smoothly. The Chexology team works with clients on an individual basis to provide the best recommendations to set up and organize their checkrooms for success.

The first step is eliminating the paper cloakroom ticket that creates nightmares for everyone, especially when it gets lost. A 2-minute transaction can turn into 30 minutes or more when a paper cloakroom ticket is lost as it becomes a needle in the haystack situation. So, why not avoid it altogether and choose a trusted, digital process to make the cloakroom process easier, more secure, and hassle-free?


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