“The times, they are-a-changin’.” Bob Dylan said it best, and it’s never been truer for QSRs (quick service restaurants) and FECs (family entertainment centers). As the world continues to speed up every day, companies in all industries have had to make the necessary changes to adapt. Restaurants and FECs have accepted newer technologies in their locations over the last few years but have overall been slow to accommodate to changing customer bases and an ever-changing political landscape. The old term we hear is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but does something need to be broken to upgrade it? When the term “upgrade” is brought up in conversation, the next few thoughts generally relate to price or how much this upgrade will cost. I’m here to help explain why this conversation will be positive, and how it will actually help save and make more money. Ben Franklin once gave a young tradesman some advice – “time is money.” You’re probably rolling your eyes from my “corporate speak” reference, but I urge you to “buy-in” if you have the “bandwidth” while we “peel back the onion” on why and how technology can help streamline your business processes, increase your customer experience, sell more, and decrease your cost of Labor (yeah, I said it).
Let’s get back to that saying, “time is money.” When it comes down to it, money is generally the deciding factor of all business transactions. With that said, can you tell me the last time minimum wage was increased by the federal government? The minimum wage has been a hot-button topic over the last few years as states have taken responsibility into their own hands to ensure their residents are paid more. As an employee being paid more, you’re happy. As an employer, you’re put in a more difficult situation. Effective January 1st, 2019, California’s minimum wage for employers with fewer than 26 employees increased to $11/hour. Employers with 26+ employees have a minimum wage of $12/hour. In Colorado, that number increases to $11.10/hour, $12/hour in Massachusetts and Washington, $14/hour in D.C. (July ’19), and $15/hour in New York. In certain states, these amounts are double the standard federal minimum wage, with increases set to happen year after year. If your locations are in one of these states you get it, if they aren’t, get ready. A bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2024 will soon see a vote in the House of Representatives. As an employer, this (potential) increase doesn’t have to make your stomach turn or palms sweat. This should be viewed as an opportunity to be ahead of the curve in terms of these increases and your competition by taking advantage of specialized technology built with you in mind.
There is a common and important theme when discussing your particular business – people. You have to have people to run your business, and while you do need employees, how many do you actually need? Instead of taking and calling out order numbers, what if your employees were now working as salespeople or ambassadors for your brand and helping your customers? The attitude toward this style of ordering and sales is changing in QSRs. Companies in all industries have begun re-establishing customer service and customer experience as major values in their businesses once again. In the movie “Office Space”, Manager “Stan”, played by writer and director, Mike Judge, said it best to co-star Jennifer Aniston. “People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay? They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude.” Providing your customers with a great experience is no longer something that would be nice to do, it’s a necessity.
Along with changing attitudes related to customer experience, technology plays another huge role. As technology continues to keep our eyes looking down at screens, it’s a prime opportunity to take advantage of that mindset with the way your customers order food and drinks, and luckily for you, self-service kiosks are on the rise. No longer do extremely long lines necessarily mean good things for your business. Long lines drive your customers away in this fast-paced world, and these people are more likely to walk next door, rather than wait to give their order just to wait again to receive their order. It is now easier than ever to enable your customers with a faster way to order their food without ever having to wait to speak with another human. Self-service kiosks have been extremely well accepted in the market and will likely become the norm of food ordering in the near future. According to Dan Klein from QSR Magazine, restaurants who implement self-service kiosks typically see a lift in average check from kiosks ranging from 15-30%. This can be attributed to the statistics that people naturally upsell themselves. Think about a time when you’ve been extremely hungry and decided to run down to your local fast food spot. You haven’t eaten since this morning, and as your eyes scan the menu as you wait in line, everything looks and sounds so good. You’ve decided, you want it all. It’s now your turn at the front of the line and you’re standing in front of the cashier, but something strange is happening inside your head and your stomach. That self-conscious feeling begins to run over you, and instead of ordering the 4 items, extra fries, and chocolate milkshake you craved just minutes ago, you can’t help but feel guilty and end up ordering one item with a small fry and a diet coke. We’ve probably all been there, but now imagine if that location had self-service kiosks. You’re more likely to act on those urges when the only thing between you and your extra fries and shake is a non-judgmental kiosk screen. Looking at it from the restaurant’s point of view, what did they have to do to sell more food? Absolutely nothing, except offering their customers a different way to order their meal.
Along with increasing your location’s revenues by reducing wait times, losing customers to long lines, and enabling your customer’s natural upsell habits, you’re also able to decrease your cost of Labor. As discussed earlier, the minimum wage is on the rise. An average cashier in New York working 25 hours a week and making the minimum wage of $15/hour costs you over $19,000 a year plus any benefits offered. If your staff consists of 5 part-time cashiers, you’re now talking about close to $100,000 a year just to have someone listen to an order, tap a few buttons on a POS, and hand the customer their order. Imagine adding two self-service kiosks that ultimately do the same job but cost a fraction of the price of two employees, and never forget to ask your customer if they’d like to add fries or a chocolate shake to their order. What could you do with an extra $40,000 a year? What would your boss say if you could save them $40,000 a year per location and guarantee more upsell opportunities? I think you know the answer to both those questions.
Ah yes, the times, they are a-changin’. Minimum wage is only going to continue to increase, which will change the way your business is run. Couple that with the resurgence of customer service and the need to provide your customers with an overall better experience, the time to do your due diligence in the marketplace is here. As a client recently explained to me, “we could either be ahead of the curve or chase after it. If we didn’t place self-service kiosks at the forefront of our future, our competition would beat us to it and take the advantage.” The opportunity to set your company apart to your customers and from your competition has begun. Will you be ahead of the curve or chase after it?