|Wendy's new self-service ordering devices|
Customers will be able to order without help from counter staff. Obviously, the automation is one way to cut labor costs, something most fast-food chains are undertaking because of increased competition and higher minimum wage requirements in most states.
As examples, virtually all chains have ordering apps available for smart phones; many McDonald's have added curbside pickup and kioks where customers can customize their burgers; and, Panera Bread has said it plans to add touch-screen kiosks to all its restaurants within a few years.
For Wendy’s, kiosks are part of an overall move into automation that could cut labor costs, said Robert Wright, chief operations officer. He called 2016 a “tough" year, with wages rising 5% compared with 2015. He said supervisors could use automation to take food temperatures and do other duties. “There are repetitive production tasks that are in Wendy's restaurants that aren't core to the things that customer loves the most,” he said.
Wendy's just reported its 16th straight quarter of increasing sales for restaurants open at least 15 months. It reported falling sales and profit overall, but that was mostly due to a strategic decision to sell off the vast majority of its company-owned stores, a plan Wendy's completed in the fourth quarter of 2016. The company’s stock is up nearly 46% in the last year.
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