Wendy’s Kiosks: Is This Really About Minimum Wage Hike?
At first glance, Wendy’s is deploying self-service kiosks and other automated IT systems to combat labor costs and the rising minimum wage. But take a closer look and consider the true reality: Even if minimum wages don’t rise, Wendy’s and its rivals would be exploring — and frequently rolling out — these automation technologies.
The U.S. fast food industry employs about 3.7 million people, according to Statista. Most eyes are on the minimum wage war between those employees and the fast food giants/franchise owners. Wendy’s says “self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages,” according to Investors Business Daily.
Frankly, I think the wage debate provides a “convenient” excuse for Wendy’s locations to accelerate the potential kiosk deployments.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say wages hold steady. Even in that scenario, fine dining restaurants in the U.S. have a 66% annual employee turnover rate, while fast food restaurants have been averaging a whopping 145% turnover rate in recent years, People Report says.
Now, let’s assume you own the fast food franchise.
- Do you continue to hire and train an entirely new staff at least once per year?
- Or do you embrace self-service kiosks to reduce your workforce — and labor turnover?
Fact is, we increasingly live in a self-service world. Touch screens, digital signage and customer-facing point-of-sale systems (PoS) systems are the norm. In many cases, a “great customer experience” no longer requires human interaction.
Sure, fast food restaurants still need cooks and other food preparation workers. But order taking? Point, click, goodbye employees.