WDCast: Q+A With WD’s Joanne Heyob
Estimated Read Time: 2 - 3 Minutes
What better way to discuss the latest drive-thru research than to invite the expert herself on to an episode of WDCast?! Drum roll please… we introduce SVP of Operations Strategy & Design at WD, Joanne Heyob. In this episode, Joanne and Lee elaborate on the four key ways restaurant operators can adjust their drive-thru strategy to give the consumers what they want. Listen to the full podcast interview, but while you’re here check out this Q+A segment below on automation.
Lee: Joanne, you came up with 4 points that matter to the consumer when it comes to drive thru. Can you walk us through that plan?
Joanne: Let’s dig into automation. I know you and I talk a lot about…
Lee + Joanne (simultaneously): Robots.
Joanne: Yes! I think of automation as not just robotics, but advances in equipment that make things more efficient; that offsets the labor shortage that’s out there. We know restaurant and hospitality got slaughtered when it comes to the labor industry. Restaurant/hospitality is trending 3-4x the national average for unemployment rate. So, I started to think about: how do you keep the people that you have happy doing the jobs that they love, and start to think about the jobs that are really repetitive and redundant that can be offset by advances in technology?
There are things and pieces of equipment that are out there that can do some of the work for you, that if you invest in, the ROI pays you right back almost immediately because you’re offsetting labor costs. Outside of food, labor is one of the top expenses out there. I like to think of automation as the Alexa in our house, kiosks when we order, and our mobile phones… all of the things that have helped speed up the ordering process. Now it’s time to take that to the back of house and offset that from automation.
Lee: This really is an interesting conundrum–different from retail, and a lot of perspectives in that it’s harder for that to happen. It’s more expensive, too. I heard a number of reports of the turnover in restaurant/hospitality and in retail. You absolutely need people there. It seems that making it more interesting is one of the top choices, whereas, for somebody like Morgan-Stanley, or a bank, those people can work from home. That seemed to solve a lot of problems, but you can’t do that with restaurant and hospitality.
Joanne: Yeah, for the first time ever I started to drive past restaurants and they were closed, or their drive thru was closed. I started to think about how automation could help that. You need somebody there to take order, you need someone that can make sure that the doors are open, etc. But you don’t necessarily need that in other industries. With the labor shortages, we started to see restaurants shutting down on Mondays and Tuesdays, for example. That loss of revenue could be made up as we think about advances in the technology from the equipment.
Lee: The automation is really interesting because if you take the super menial stuff off the deck for that kind of thing, you also make the jobs that are remaining much more interesting and much more attractive, which is the goal, right?
To learn more about Joanne’s 4 recommendations for drive thru operations, download the FREE POV now!
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