Wendy’s Moves to Expand Automated Ordering, Cut Workers

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You might have to forego human interaction to get your burger at the fast food chain as it moves towards self-service kiosks and expands use of apps to cut its labor costs.

Instead of sitting in your car at Wendy’s and shouting your food order through a speaker to a fast food worker to enter into a computer, you may soon find yourself inputting your order at a touchscreen kiosk.

The fast food chain plans to roll out automated self-service ordering kiosks later this year in an effort to offset rising labor costs, Investor’s Business Daily reports. Wendy’s President Todd Penegor says labor costs have increased by 5 to 6 percent in the past year.

Wendy’s, which has more than 6,000 locations nationwide, says the increase in labor costs is due in part to minimum wage hikes and to a tighter labor market. For example, the minimum wage in California is now $10 but will gradually rise to $15 an hour. In New York City, the fast food industry wage is now $10.50, but it is also moving gradually to $15.

The Wendy’s Co. employed 37,000 employees, including 2,500 salaried employees and 34,500 hourly employees, as of Dec. 29, 2013, according to the company’s website. It’s not immediately clear how many employees will be affected.

Penegor said all the company-owned Wendy’s restaurants will have the kiosks, but the franchise-operated stores can decide whether or not they want to use the technology. As Investor’s Business Daily reports:

For now, 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 [quick-service restaurant] experience but at traditional QSR prices.”

According to CBS-Los Angeles, not everyone is a fan of the self-service kiosks.

“People have a hard enough time picking sodas and figuring that out,” Wendy’s employee Adam Simpson told CBS.

Wendy’s also has plans to roll out mobile ordering and mobile payment apps by the end of the year.

CBS-LA said other fast food and fast casual chains — including McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. and Panera Bread — are also trying out self-service kiosks at some of their restaurants.

What do you think about self-service kiosks at fast food restaurants? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

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