Why donut queues are so long

I wonder what’s gotten into Singaporeans. What’s with the crazy donut worshipping?

Someone was telling me she queued for 2 hours. Another someone told me he queued for 4 hours. What the hell? Like, never eat donuts before? Donuts are so great you’re willing to queue for 4 hours to get some?

I like donuts but I’m not a donut maniac like the rest of the 1.5 million Singaporeans in the queues.

But I decided to join a queue the other day. I didn’t want to be the only clueless, donutless person left in Singapore.

I went for Vinco Doughnuts at VivoCity because the queue didn’t look as intimidating as other franchises’ queues.

And NOW, I know the real reason for the ridiculous queues: Inefficient SOP.

My queue was actually only half the size of the one in the picture (it kept growing while I was in the queue) and it still took me half an hour to get my one measly donut despite there being two and a half servers. (One of them was serving on an ad hoc basis, whenever she took time off looking at her clipboard or talking to the chefs.)

Here’s how an average transaction went.

  1. Donut girl asks customer for order.
  2. Customer says he wants two dozen donuts.
  3. Donut girl saunters to the back to fold two pieces of flat cardboard into boxes. (This takes one or two minutes for every single customer.)
  4. Donut girl ambles back to customer with boxes.
  5. Customer starts rattling off the flavours he wants.
  6. Donut girl writes order down on boxes.
  7. Donut girl brings boxes to this multi-storey tray thing stacked from floor to ceiling with donuts.
  8. Donut girl starts picking donuts very slowly, spending up to 10 seconds looking for each donut and putting it in the box.
  9. Donut girl can’t find particular donut.
  10. Donut girl asks colleague (who is busy serving another customer) and they both stop to chat for a while.
  11. Donut girl continues to slowly pick at donuts.
  12. Donut girl strolls back to customer to ask some questions.
  13. Donut girl and customer have a debate on the intricacies of donut flavouring.
  14. Donut girl saunters back to multi-tray and continues picking donuts and filling boxes slowly.
  15. Donut girl finally has 2 boxes filled, after 8 minutes from the time she first served the customer.
  16. Donut girl painstakingly packs the 2 boxes into a large plastic bag, making sure everything is neat and tidy so she can win an award for neatness.
  17. Donut girl takes some time to carefully key the purchase into cash register.
  18. Customer pays for donuts and leaves.
  19. Donut girl moseys back to main counter to serve next customer.
  20. Cycle repeats.

I estimated that each transaction took between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on how many boxes were required, how fussy a customer was, and how much time the donut girl spent chatting with her colleague.

I was the only “idiot” who bought only one donut. Everyone else in the queue before me bought 6, 12 or 24. But even my one donut took two minutes to be served up.

With SOPs like that, it’s no wonder donut queues get that long. Of course, maybe other donut franchises have better reasons for attracting a queue, so if you have other opinions on why donut queues are too long, let’s hear it.

I suspect that maybe the management trains its staff to work very slowly in order to lengthen the queues so that the donut shop can look very, very popular.

And long queues get longer because Singaporeans just can’t resist queues. The longer one is, the more people want in, never mind what the purpose of the queue is.

I didn’t even like my donut. Maybe I ordered the wrong flavour. I had Royal Cheese and it was quite disappointing because it didn’t look like the picture. The cheese tasted like cheapo supermarket singles and the dough was too airy and didn’t taste that great. The cheese didn’t even stick to the donut, so while I was eating it, half the cheese fell into the paper bag.

Dunkin Donuts is much better. I haven’t tried the other franchises available in Singapore but I will, eventually, when the queues stop looking so scary.