Category Archives: Minimum Wage kiosk

Feature – Serves you right!

Good article by Elliot Maras published last week regarding jobs and the fast food kiosk.

By now you’ve already heard it — the introduction of self-order restaurant kiosks is raising fears that kiosks are killing jobs. News media outlets and websites are perpetuating the story that restaurants want to replace workers with kiosks to protect their bottom lines.

What’s to be done about it? Plenty.

If ever there were a time for the kiosk industry to speak with a collective voice, that time is now.  Let’s start with a reality check.

Restaurants in the fast casual space have deployed tablets on the tables for years now.  Those kiosks have increased the spend and added efficiencies.  They have helped increase business and traffic flow.  Customers complete surveys and provide feedback.  E-Club enrollments.  Customers and businesses are very happy with these kiosks. Notables in this “fast casual” space are Chili’s, Paneras and Red Robin.

The restaurants have grown and prospered. Kitchens have been upgraded for more capacity, and more people have been employed. One industry insider says:

In a dozen years of providing self order kiosks to the restaurant industry, I haven’t seen a reduction in “total labor”. In many cases the order taking (and less frequently payment) is automated, but more orders are processed and the orders are larger. That means more labor is needed in the kitchen and customer service. It really is more of a shift that a reduction.

Drive-thru and outdoor ordering have been mainstays for kiosks/ordering stations, and we are seeing next generation touchscreen ordering from companies like NEXTEP and many others. Tommy Woycik of NEXTEP insight:

When we introduced self order at the drive thru, many restaurants that had closed their drive thrus were able to reopen them. Without the automation, the economics simply didn’t make sense (i.e. the drive thru was losing money). Closing the drive thru eliminated a job. Reopening with a kiosk actually added labor, but just enough to make the drive thru feasible.

As far as the economic circumstance consider what the investment Seeking Alpha site has to say — 

The restaurant industry can be difficult to navigate as food trends shift like the wind. Companies that operate a large number of locations should produce significant margins from size and scale. However, because the consumer can be fickle when it comes to eating out, margins and revenue can quickly turn south as volume slips from over extension, saturation, or just a change in diet. Restaurants need foot traffic, automobile access, or a consistent supply of guests like a hotel or resort. Because of this and other equipment requirements, restaurant leases are amongst some of the highest cost in the country. The reason for this is simple: Location. Location. Location.

Margins in a franchisee business, especially in low-cost fast food like a McDonalds or Burger King or Subway are tough adversaries.

Still, Americans are spending more at bars and restaurants than at grocery stores for the first time ever. $55B versus $53B according to Quartz report.

Click for full size

Fast Food Kiosk Coming Up Fast?

Recently we have seen the McDonalds announcement where, having done most of Europe, it is now looking to introduce self-ordering in the United States.

The CEO of CKE Andy Puzder, who has been a tireless opponent of minimum wage over the years, is now conveying the sense that kiosks are a result of minimum wage coming with a bit of “I told you so” for effect.

We have seen very few deployments in fast food and we won’t see significant minimum wage increases for several years.   The franchisee model and the type of food service may be more relevant factors.

Self-service arrived many years ago and is simply expanding given the increased connectivity and independence of those customers.  And the battle for new customers and most importantly retaining your current customers.

More Jobs – consider the jobs that automation supports. From basic metal fabrication, design, concierge, assistants, service techs, admins and yes, even, salespeople which we sometimes make fun of. They all support families and communities.

Automation creates a ton of jobs all the way across the food chain (so to speak) from metal fabricators, engineers, service techs, salespeople and many many more.  How many jobs does automated checkout at Walmart account for at NCR?  Tens of thousands.  Panera’s is a great example of modern thinking in the food industry.

How many jobs does Amazon and Bezos create, foster and necessitate? Those automation jobs in the warehouses (even with the automation) count.

And before we assign the entire industry to McDonalds/CKE/Darden/YUM/JackintheBox/Wendys, consider this quote from

Even though it seems like the largest U.S. restaurant chains dominate the retail restaurant niche, only about 30% of America’s restaurants are part of a multi-unit chain, and only a fraction of those restaurant chains are publicly traded restaurant companies. The vast majority of U.S. retail diners are spending $1.9 billion in approximately one million restaurant locations owned by individual culinary entrepreneurs.”

For contrast consider the early theory that ATMs will eliminate bank employees.  Banks became smaller for sure but they built more of them, and more people were employed.

So What Does Kill Jobs  If Anything?

The statements that kiosks are killing jobs are more targeted at killing minimum wage politically.  That’s politics and those issues come and go as it serves someones interests.  You might also say China is killing jobs too, but it’s not really them that is killing jobs.

The tax advantages of imported goods may go away in a new “border adjustable” Republican plan (which companies like Walmart are not happy with).   Incentivising companies to build in the US will create jobs.

A labor shortage for skilled workers and craftsmen (higher middle class) is killing jobs.  People need to be trained. See Profoundly Disconnected and Mike Rowe which we support.

Fact is though Automation and connectivity are killing jobs.

Mr. Maras makes the good point that training and skilled workers is a fundamental issue.  Vocational schools which focus on job skills with computers and automation.  And why not take a page from the German labour playbook? Works for their labour force.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Other countries devote more resources than the U.S. to cushioning and retraining displaced workers. As a share of gross domestic product, Denmark spends 25 times as much, says Dr. Autor.

He offers another historical example. Near the end of the 19th century, America’s agricultural states faced the prospect of mass unemployment as farms automated. 

In response, they created the “high school movement,” which required everyone to stay in school until age 16. It was hugely expensive, both because of the new schools and teachers, but also because these young people could no longer work on the farm. But it better prepared workers for 20th century factory jobs and fueled the explosion in college attendance after World War II.

Self-service automation is energizing the job market and the general economy. The clear benefits will not go away and by implementing them properly businesses will be enabled to indeed grow to the next level, and even more people will be employed.

Amazon says it will create 100,000 jobs in U.S. by 2018

Amazon will create 100,000 full-time jobs in the United States with full benefits over the next 18 months, the tech giant announced in a statement Thursday.

The company says the positions are for workers across the country and across all skill and experience levels. Most of the positions will be at fulfillment centers, including new ones under construction in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas.

“Innovation is one of our guiding principles at Amazon, and it’s created hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. “These jobs are not just in our Seattle headquarters or in Silicon Valley—they’re in our customer service network, fulfillment centers and other facilities in local communities throughout the country.”

Full article

Kiosk Industry Association

Followup:  One of the KI sponsors (Olea) contributed this — We’ve been following Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame and he’s doing a lot to promote this sort of thing. Our thought was to create a foundation that starts with say a $5k scholarship or money to a school who’s got a great set of shop classes, or one that is building a shop class and is short on funds. We think we could get suppliers and other companies that we work with to also support our efforts to take that number higher over the years. Companies that we buy CNC equipment from or grinder belts those types of vendors.


When we purchased a new press brake for $300k Amada the manufacturer told us that it had all sorts of software on it to make running it easier. Then we got it and found out you really needed very qualified operators at +$50k salary. We had to use 3 agencies to find two people and we offered a signing bonus, 1 week vacation and 75% company paid HMO. It took us months to find people.

A year or so later we had a conversation with them and they said it’s not something that is taught anywhere. You get on the job training and build up to it. So, we have a program here to teach anyone that wants to learn. Then Amada said they’ve been forced to figure out how to make the machines smarter so that anyone can run them. In exchange, you’ll get anyone to run the machine for $15 bucks an hour but why??? All because nobody is being trained to do these things. Businesses will adapt. Labor shortages and training is causing higher level middle class jobs to disappear just as fast or faster than innovation or anything else.

Then of course there’s China or other places with low labor costs causing havoc. Everyone pays the same price for a high-end CNC machine no matter where you are in the world. But the guy standing at the machine for a few bucks an hour vs. the guy making $26 per hour makes it tough for America to compete. Hence the US Kiosk industry needing to be very fast with custom designed goods that can be built and delivered before a Chinese box can be put on a boat for a 4-6 week journey.


Members  involved in Self-Service and this article.

Fast Food Kiosks Creating Jobs and Increasing Revenues – Counterpoint

fast food kiosks Fast Food Kiosks killing jobs? Current events beg the question, but the facts say otherwise

Reprinted with permission Dec. 12, 2016 | by Elliot Maras

We at the Kiosk Industry Association have seen the news media running controversial headlines and opinion pieces by CEOs and ex-CEOs decrying the minimum wage increase and attributing loss of jobs to self-order.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is a very nice piece from Fast Casual and Elliot Maras providing an accurate counterpoint. Thanks Elliot! — Editor

President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Andrew Pudzer as Secretary of Labor has helped push the “kiosk as restaurant job killer” theme into the nation’s consciousness. Pudzer, CEO of CKE Restaurants, is an advocate of automation.

The high-profile Pudzer nomination directs attention on automation as restaurant chains continue to introduce self-order kiosks to improve customer service. It comes on the heels of the “Fight for $15” wage campaign, which is placing unprecedented pressure on restaurants, particularly limited-service concepts.

Late last month, Ed Rensi, a former president and CEO of McDonald’s USA, penned a column in Forbes reminding readers that businesses in 2013 warned that the labor-union-led “Fight for $15” would force companies to replace full-serve employees with self-service alternatives.

Rensi’s main point was that businesses cannot absorb the higher wages that labor unions are advocating. But for people less familiar with the restaurant industry, the controversy over the $15 wage has muddled the full story about why foodservice chains are introducing self-service kiosks and what impact kiosks really have on restaurant labor.

Shortly after stories broke claiming McDonald’s was planning to roll out self-order kiosks in all of its 14,000 U.S. stores, The Gateway Pundit, a political website, carried the following headline: “Congrats Minimum Wage Protesters! McDonald’s Unveils Job-Replacing Self-Service Kiosks Nationwide.”

Both the restaurant industry and the kiosk industry now find themselves forced to defend their actions, which in reality are not killing jobs.

Kioskmarketplace in May reported that many restaurant chains were deploying kiosks before the $15-minimum wage push had gained steam. The Digital Screenmedia Association in 2011 reported that 21 percent of all QSRs were planning to introduce self-ordering kiosks. Also, in 2011, McDonald’s installed 840 kiosks across Europe with the goal of improving customer service.

Robotics researchers, restaurant executives, industrial engineers, consultants and economists have all said automation in the restaurant and fast-food sectors is not as simple as installing automatic tellers in banks or employing robots to assemble cars, according to Reuters.

Several chains are using kiosks and other technology that allow orders to be placed more rapidly and efficiently. Such efficiencies are serving to reallocate labor from the front to the back of the restaurant and in some cases, add jobs.

Labor moves to the back of the house

During McDonald’s shareholders meeting in May, company CEO Steve Easterbrook was asked if he expected to see kiosks taking the place of workers and causing people to lose their jobs. “It may change the nature of the jobs in the restaurant, because frankly technology is something that our customers are embracing,” Easterbrook said. “We can just reapportion that labor into more service orientated roles that we think the customer will benefit both ways.”

According to Panera Bread’s 2015 second quarter earnings call report, digital utilization efforts reduced order input labor but increased labor hours. Panera’s new business model, introduced in 2014, includes fast lane kiosks for dining in and ordering to go. Under this model, called Panera 2.0, the company actually added labor hours to meet the demand driven by multiple points of digital access and to ensure the ability to serve with greater accuracy in an environment where about 70 percent of orders are customized.

“This extra labor is necessary to drive a better guest experience consistent with operating clarity,” the earnings report said.

CEO Ron Shaich indicated as early as October 2014 that same-store sales from 2.0 stores outpaced traditional cafes, according to With 5 percent of all company sales placed through web, mobile or kiosk, Shaich said he was encouraged by the potential for the 2.0 model.

Saladworks, a fresh salad franchise chain that is also revamping its stores, does not expect labor hours to decline as it installs self-serve kiosks, according to Pat Sugrue, president and CEO.

“We didn’t do this for labor purposes; we did it for throughput and also capacity,” said Sugrue. “We’re going to have more people making salads. From an hours perspective, hours should go up, not go down.”

Sugrue pointed out that the kiosks could impact labor costs in a positive way for the company that is not synonymous with fewer hours worked.

Self-order kiosks change labor metrics

“If the sales go up faster than the net hours, then our labor as a percentage of sales will come down,” Sugrue said. “I think we’re going to add hours, but we should be able to increase throughput, and therefore, sales, and our labor percentage could come down.”

The objective of the kiosk is recognizing that how you want to be served and how I want to be served can be very different, Sugrue said.

“Increasingly, millennials and millennial-minded people don’t necessarily need that interaction with someone. For those who order off the kiosk, that will shorten the queue for those who don’t order off the kiosk, and it will provide better service to either group,” he said.

Fast Food Kiosks long-term impact not known

This is not to say that some jobs won’t be eliminated in some situations. The long-term ramifications of self-order kiosks are hard to determine, given the newness of self-order restaurant kiosks. Transitioning to kiosks will require companies to continue serving those customers who still want personal service.

“During slower times, brands still need the appropriate number of counter staff because the kiosk is a customer service option, not a requirement,” said Jodi Meryl Wallace, chief marketing officer at Acrelec America, a provider of customer experience technology. The company’s European operation has been involved in numerous restaurant kiosk deployments. “There’s also the need for front-of-house team members to assist customers who are new to using the kiosks,” Wallace said. “Because of kiosks, brands have begun to offer table service delivery of orders so staff is redirected to that task as well.

Because kiosks increase the speed at which orders are taken, brands have found that there’s an increased need for back-of-house/kitchen staff during peak periods when kiosks are used, Wallace said.

“Kiosks grow revenue by increasing throughput and by providing consumers with ‘order privacy’ which results in customers adding more side items, beverages and desserts, and more frequent upsizing of menu items,” she said.

Meeting customer needs

Ultimately, restaurants must meet expectations of all their customers, and 64 percent of millennials prefer self-service, according to an MHI Global report.

“Add to that kiosks can present a menu in multiple languages…and they’re fun to use,” Wallace said. “In France, 90 percent of consumers will use the kiosk option when it’s available. “Brands have reported that the average check size at the kiosk is 30 percent higher than at the counter.”

Reducing restaurant labor has a little bit to do with it, but it’s not the driving force, said Tom Radtke, vice president of sales at Keyser Retail Solutions, a retail technology integrator.

“You’re going to continue to have that kid at the counter,” he said. “There’s a group of people who won’t go to the kiosk.”

Radtke agrees with those who predict self-order kiosks will improve restaurant sales.

“The kiosk can lead you through the process and do suggestive selling, and that kiosk does it better than a 13-year old crew kid,” said Radtke. “Typically that (kiosk) order is a higher ring than it is at the counter.”

Another factor is that consumers today, especially millennials, are more appreciative of businesses that use technology. Hence, there is a customer perception factor involved.

Is a groundswell underway?

The controversy won’t be going away soon. If McDonald’s deploys kiosks nationally, it marks one of the country’s most significant restaurant kiosk developments.

Given how long limited-service chains have been testing kiosks, one can’t assume that McDonald’s action — regardless of what’s motivating it — signals a groundswell movement, however.

“If your customer doesn’t embrace it, you’ve got a huge expenditure for something that doesn’t have much of a payback,” said Radtke. “How do you incorporate another layer of ordering, transaction processing into the inside of the restaurant?”

He noted that it took a long time for bank customers to embrace ATMs.

Some observers do think a groundswell is in the making, however.

“The QSRs are starting to understand the ROI on this,” said Charles Lewis, director of business development at Elite Manufacturing, a kiosk hardware manufacturer.

The speed and order accuracy that kiosks deliver are creating higher profit margins, Lewis said.

Wendy’s, McDonald’s – food kiosk tests not tied to minimum wage battle

food kiosk

Amid nationwide calls for significantly higher wages for fast food workers, Wendy’s and McDonald’s are testing self service ordering food kiosk.


Another testament by the companies on how kiosks are not aimed at minimum wage or instigated by that issue.

McDonalds kiosk – The evolution of fast-food. More people + automation equation. 

McDonalds kiosk – The evolution of fast-food. More people + automation equation.
mcdonalds kiosk

McDonalds kiosk is simply responding to competition from other chains that have offered “enhanced burgers,” said Hilda Fahey, a company representative who was in Simcoe to help with the changeover to the new services at the Queensway East restaurant.


“We have 35 different people we didn’t have before,” Maskell said on a Wednesday afternoon while preparing for an opening that night for the new services.

More people are needed in the kitchen, he explained, to service the customers out front.

McDonald’s also has added what it calls “guest experience leaders” – women and men in uniform who are in front of the counter helping people to their seats, delivering them food, or assisting them at the kiosk.

Mary Tout, who started doing the job last February, said part of her role includes letting customers about what’s going on in the area.

“People love the socialization,” she said. “They think because there’s a kiosk, they’re not going to be speaking to a person.”

Wendy’s Serves Up Big Kiosk Expansion As Wage Hikes Hit Fast Food

mcdonalds kiosk

Wendy’s will make self-service ordering kiosks available to all of its franchises later this year as minimum wage hikes help market push labor costs.


6,000 plus restaurants getting selfservice kiosks. Adoption rests with the franchisees. Most have been raising prices. Most of minimum wage is phased in years from now and virtually unchanged in California.

  • New York went from 9.00 to 10.50 (on way to 15)
  • CA went to $10 this from $9.00
  • Company owned Wendy stores number is 5% of total stores.
  • Wage inflation seen at company stores is 5%
  • More customers hit bottom line at 3.6% same store sales increase for last quarter

Wendy’s President Todd Penegor said, “wage pressures have been manageable both because of falling commodity prices and better operating leverage due to an increase in customer counts. Still, the company is wary about both wage hikes and a possible recovery in commodity prices and is “working so hard to find efficiencies” so it can deliver “a new QSR experience but at traditional QSR prices.”

In addition to self-order kiosks, the company is also getting ready to move beyond the testing phase with labor-saving mobile ordering and mobile payment available systemwide by the end of the year. Yum Brands and McDonald’s already have mobile ordering apps.  See other stories on McDonalds Kiosks here on Kiosk Industry.


The Ugly Truth About A $15 Minimum Wage – Forbes

Minimum wage kiosk

In truth, nearly 90% of McDonald’s locations are independently-owned by franchisees who aren’t making “millions” in profit.


Makes sense McDonald’s would use someone retired to say it since it allows them to stay at arm’s length.

We’ll see many more articles like this in the future.

Panera 2.0 Initiative Gives Investors 10% Return!

Panera kiosk

Since 2012, Panera Bread has been driving growth in their restaurants and have invested in tablet kiosks (which is part of their Panera 2.0 initiative) to increase their sales and customer experience.


Nice breakdown on the positive “consequences” of expanding customer choices (aka omnichanneling if I may). In Panera’s case the increased rate of return is what counts to investors (and the Board of Directors).

More ways to order mean more orders in this case right?

The Future Today: A Look at Smart Restaurant Technology

Smart Restaurant Technology

Recently, a few (very few) restaurants have begun offering a fully automated, Jetson-like food experience (think eatsa). The futurism is pretty cool, but what does today’s workpsmart restaurant technologylace automation really look like?


Excerpt:  “At a bank, you can opt for traditional teller service, an ATM, a drive-thru, or online/mobile banking. Restaurants are doing the same by offering traditional counter service, ordering kiosks, touchscreen/video drive-thru, as well as online/mobile ordering. All orders are funneled to production for fulfilment and real-time inventory management,” explained Tommy Woycik, founder and president of Nextep Systems, whose tagline is “Order Food Faster.”

More advice and thoughts from Woycik

  • Automation of the ‘simple’ tasks like order entry and counting change provides improved speed-of-service and more value to guests
  • Customer service means different things to different guests (e.g., Baby Boomers versus Gen X versus Gen Y)
  • Customer service doesn’t have to be face-to-face .
  • All guests value food quality, order accuracy, and speed of service.

Rest of the story on Foodable.

Wrestling with Wages

The effect of recent minimum-wage increases isn’t yet clear, but increased use of automation technology is likely to be a result.

By Richard Slawsky for Kiosk Industry Group  

As California and New York each prepare to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour, operators of quick service and fast casual restaurants as well as other small businesses in those states are wondering how they will be able to cope.

And those questions aren’t likely to go away any time soon.  Seattle and several other cities have already approved a $15

Coffee Kiosk McDonalds Self Service
McDonalds Counters with Self Service coffee automation. click to expand

minimum wage, while officials in Oregon plan to increase the minimum to $14.75 an hour in cities and $12.50 in rural areas over the next six years. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow suit.

“There is no question that a $15 minimum wage would have devastating impacts on small businesses in California,” said Tom Scott, executive director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses in California. “Over 90 percent of our 22,000 small businesses across the state have told us in no uncertain terms that an increase in the minimum wage will negatively affect their ability to operate, and potentially put them at risk of closing their doors permanently.”

The increases don’t go into effect immediately; instead rising gradually over the next several years. Wages in California and New York won’t reach their peak until 2022, giving restaurant operators a bit of time to consider their options.

As such, much of the impact of an increased minimum wage remains to be seen. Although in the short term the move may put more money in the pockets of workers, in the longer term it is likely to end up in higher prices, lower profits and business closures.

Ultimately, though, rising wages are likely to prompt operators to look at automation as a way to preserve their profits.

Moving to automation

Self-service technology is already widespread in scenarios such as casino rewards, airport check-in kiosks, self-service photo booths and, of course, the ubiquitous ATM. Self-order kiosks are already gaining a foothold in the restaurant industry, and minimum wage increases are likely to increase the speed of adoption.

“The higher the compensation, the greater the incentive to

Prices go up on their own whether wages change or not?
Prices go up on their own whether wages change or not?

replace labor with capital. The other thing to figure in here is the declining cost of automation,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C. think tank the Brookings Institution, told the San Jose Mercury News. “Likely there will be some greater demand for automation, but meanwhile, others will likely find other solutions using the people they have.”

CKE Restaurants, operator of fast food brands Hardee’s and Carl’s Junior, began testing self-order kiosks at some of its restaurants in 2015, and CKE chief Andy Puzder has publicly said he’d be interested in developing a restaurant run entirely via self-service devices.

“They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” Puzder told Business Insider.

Panera Tablet Kiosk
Tablet kiosks for ordering at Paneras.

Fast food giant McDonald’s is also rolling out self-order kiosks at locations throughout the United States, and fast-casual brand Panera Bread has introduced the devices as part of its “Panera 2.0” brand reinvention.

That doesn’t mean live workers are going to disappear any time soon. Although self-service technology can handle basic tasks such as order-taking or the filling of drinks, some of the more complicated procedures in the kitchen may not be so easy to automate. In many cases, the technology allows operators to redeploy labor to other areas and help speed up service.

And for operators seeking to make personal service an integral part of their business, there’s no substitute (yet) for a smiling face behind the counter.

Unintended consequences

Although many business owners have been looking at the minimum wage increase in direct terms, calculating how added labor dollars or adopting self-service technology will affect their bottom line, there are some potential consequences they haven’t considered.

First and foremost is morale and the potential for job losses beyond those prompted by cost-cutting. How is that long-term worker, who strived for years to attain a wage of $15 an hour or greater, going to cope with the fact that the person they’re training is making the same wage on their first day?

A clue to that can be found in the example of Dan Price, the CEO of Seattle-based payments processor Gravity Payments. If that name sounds familiar, it’s likely because Price made headlines in 2015 when he announced that he planned to raise the salary of everyone at his company to $70,000 a year. Price made the move, he claimed, after reading a study making the case that additional income improved the happiness of those who earn less than $75,000 a year.

Although the company was inundated with resumes after the announcement – 4,500 in the first week – it also lost two employees who felt it was unfair that that others were getting big pay raises with little additional effort, and that the value of their own skills had been diminished. And several of Gravity’s clients left, suspecting the wage increases would lead to higher costs for the company’s services. Other clients felt as if Price was making a political statement, and left for that reason.

The long-term effects of Price’s move remain to be seen, but it’s clear those effects will be a mixture of good and bad.

And while automation may be the key to managing the impact of a minimum wage increase, increasing adoption is likely to affect the cost of automation itself. Increased demand is likely to lead to price adjustments, while the push for higher wages will eventually lead to higher costs for the makers of self-service technology. In addition, widespread adoption will create a shortage of technicians to maintain those devices, in turn driving up service costs.

Self Service rising to top of modern BI. Click to Expand
Self Service rising to top of modern BI. Click to Expand

The message? Small business operators would be well-served by investigating the potential of self-service technology now and lock in long-term agreements before the floodgates open and demand skyrockets.

“Those that can invest now and keep costs low during the transition will weather the storm long enough for competition to go under because they didn’t plan ahead,” said Frank Olea of Olea Kiosks. “The cost of automation is going to rise as well if the companies making and designing automation don’t get a handle of how to automate making automation.”

Editor picks for Minimum Wage Kiosk

For more information


PS: And then there was Josh White in 1942…

Coffee Kiosk McDonald’s counters Fight for $15 with automation

Calls for a minimum-wage hike nationwide and in Illinois are increasingly met with businesses’ use of technology to cut costs.


The Fight for $15 campaign plans to target McDonald’s on April 14 as part of a new pre-Tax Day tradition, led by the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.

Chicago is one of 300 cities worldwide where strikes and

Coffee Kiosk McDonalds Self Service
Click to expand the image

protests are scheduled. SEIU has spent $70 million on its Fight for $15 campaign. The union’s Local 73 represents more than 28,000 government workers in Illinois and Indiana.

Protestors may want to stop by the McDonald’s at Adams and Wells to meet their replacement – an automated McCafé kiosk.

The store, which is anticipating Chicago’s minimum-wage increase to $13 an hour by 2019, is testing out coffee kiosks in the restaurant instead of having employees serve it. The kiosk features a touch-pad for ordering and paying. The screen also prompts customers to answer questions about their kiosk experience, giving the impression this is something that could be adopted as an alternative to hiring. This kind of automation, which replaces a human employee with technology, is one of the unintended consequences of Chicago’s minimum-wage increase.

It may not just be a coffee machine either. Other McDonald’s locations have used self-service kiosks with touch-screens for paying. And while self-serve kiosks don’t seem too unusual, San Francisco-based Momentum Machines has created a robotic hamburger-making machine the company claims can produce 400 high-quality burgers in an hour with minimal human supervision.

Panera Kiosks Keep Their Cool

Panera Tablet Kiosk This may be a smartphone age, but our lives are becoming a series of kiosk stops, from ATMs and supermarket checkouts to airlines and gas stations. And now, there’s the fast-food kiosk. Kiosks have one main purpose: to save time.


Panera claims 60 percent of lunchtime transactions are completed on touch-screen kiosks at one bustling, Boston-area store near Fenway Park. That same 60 percent is what some of the savviest fast-food restaurants do daily out of their drive-thru windows.

“Kiosks turn a restaurant into a vending machine,” says Christopher Muller, professor of hospitality at Boston University.

Panera installed kiosks at that one location near Fenway Park back in 2012. Today, it has them in roughly 400 restaurants as part of its “Panera 2.0” platform, with plans to have them in virtually all of its 2,000 or so stores within a few years, says Blaine Hurst, executive vice president and chief transformation and growth officer at Panera.

“We’re seeing phenomenal results,” Hurst says. That’s because kiosk-using customers are generally happy customers, he says. They typically get their orders faster and, by a healthy margin, they come back to the restaurant more often, he says. That might explain Panera’s savvy name for its contraptions: Fast Lane Kiosks.


  • Self-order customers are generally happy customers. They get their orders faster and they return more often.
  • The biggest user of kiosks at Panera? Millennials.
  • Aren’t kiosks really about cutting back on labor costs? “How much labor can we remove from the service package until customers finally decide that self service means no service?”
  • Paneras says this is not at all the case .Fact is Panera locations that have kiosks typically spend more on labor costs than those without them.
  • Biggest impediment to rollout? Ensuring that the kitchens can handle the higher bandwidth of orders on burst basis. Paneras has had to upgrade those kitchens.

Editors Note:  If you are wondering who designed, engineered and manufactured the tablets used by Paneras, we can say for sure that they look to be from our member Lilitab.  Please visit their page and say hello.

Read full article on QSR Magazine.

For more information

Analyst: Dunkin’ Donuts tests grab-and-go options – Retail Automation

Analyst: Dunkin’ Donuts tests grab-and-go options – Retail Automation


Dunkin’ Donuts is testing kiosks with a selection of sandwiches at some of its locations, according to a research analyst who suggested that the effort could boost sales at the coffee chain.

California’s $15-an-hour minimum wage may spur automation

The QSR space is heating up rapidly and that’s only one industry. The situation in California of $15 per hour may end up driving the adoption of Kiosks and other automation quicker than anticipated.

Other ramifications could include people already making $15 – 20 per hour. Logic say’s they will want a raise as well. Why should they be getting “minimum wage” when someone working the most basic of jobs is getting the same? It stands to reason we’re looking at wages going up almost across the board.

In the end business will raise their rates to cover the extra expense, or, the smart companies adopt automation and other cost saving techniques as much as possible in order to keep costs down and selling prices low.

California’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 could spur a move in the restaurant industry toward automation.


Nice article on impact of minimum wage and automation.

This change should open the floodgates of automation exploration. Those that can invest now and keep costs low during the transition will weather the storm long enough for competition to go under because they didn’t plan ahead.

Related Links

  • The Real Impact of Minimum Wage Legislation – link

Self Service Kiosk – Carl’s Jr. CEO contemplates restaurants where diners ‘never see a person’

NEW YORK – The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s says he sees automated restaurants as the future of the industry and a solution to rising minimum wages. “I want to try it,” Andy Puzder told Business Insider.


More news from CKE owner (Hardee and others)