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What’s Better Than $15 Minimum Wage? Voice Recognition Drive Thru’s

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We’ve seen workers replaced with self ordering screens. Companies are working on more and more automation to avoid paying workers in low skill positions more than the job is worth. Here’s a new one

A restaurant owner says raising wages to $15 would solve her labor shortage – but she’d have to hike menu prices. Instead, she’s turning to automated drive-thrus.

A fast-food franchisee says she’s turning to automated drive-thrus to solve her labor shortage, rather than offering a $15 hourly wage to attract new staff.

Shana Gonzales, a Checkers franchisee who owns four restaurants in the Atlanta area, told The New York Times that she wanted to hire more workers, but that it wouldn’t be profitable. She said raising wages to $14 or $15 would allow her to fully staff her restaurants – but that she’d have to raise menu prices, which could deter customers.

Instead, she’s turning to automated technology, such as voice-recognition drive-thrus, to keep business booming, she said.

The US is suffering from a severe shortage of workers, and restaurants have been especially hard hit. The US Chamber of Commerce has called the shortage a “national economic emergency” and warned it could hold back the recovery from the pandemic.

A lot of low wage/low skill workers would rather stay on unemployment than get a job. We’re seeing them go back to work in the GOP states that have done away with paying out extra money from the COVID relief packages. The root cause, really, is demanding that they be paid too much. Overpay for the position, charge more for the menu, fewer customers, fewer profits, go out of business.

She turned to automation. In December, she started using technology from Valyant AI, a startup that makes voice-recognition systems for restaurants, to take orders at one of her drive-thru lanes. The technology takes orders, including noting modifications and suggesting add-ons, and feeds this directly to the kitchen and cashier.

Gonzales is planning to roll out Valyant’s technology at her three other restaurants, she said.

“We’ll look back and say why didn’t we do this sooner,” she told The Times.

And once again the Fight for $15 crowd is agitating to reduce the amount of jobs.


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