Fast food giant Wendy’s plans to install self-ordering kiosks in about one out of six of the burger chain’s franchises nationwide by the end of this year.I don't know whether younger customers need appeasement, but I do know reducing labor costs is always a popular idea for businesses.
A typical location would get three kiosks for about $15,000, The Columbus Dispatch reported. David Trimm, Wendy’s chief information officer, estimates that payback on those machines would come in less than two years thanks to labor savings and increased sales.
The kiosks have two purposes according to Trimm: appeasing younger customers by given them an ordering experience they prefer and reducing labor costs.
Automation in food service is not a new thing. I never ate at one, but the Horn and Hardart Automat was once a fixture of urban dining on the East Coast:
|Help you at the Automat|
Essentially, the Automat turned a commissary-type kitchen into a giant vending machine. Fast fooders like Wendy's actually killed the Automat concept, so we're coming full circle. Just as H&H needed workers to prepare the food, a Wendy's with a kiosk will still have plenty of people in the back of the house, at least initially, but increasingly machines will be automating that part as well.
The larger problem -- if you are a young person looking for an entry-level job, automation is limiting your options. In a world of kiosks and automatic burger making machines, a skill set to have will be troubleshooting equipment malfunctions. I don't know too many teenagers who can swing that one. We all dine with Joseph Schumpeter eventually.