With the rise in talks amongst policymakers nationwide about increases in the minimum wage, the leaders at McDonald’s are testing new ways to automate the running of their restaurants.
During an event talking with investors this past week, Chris Kempczinski, the current CEO of McDonald’s, released an announcement that the titan of the fast-food industry is looking at experimenting with voice ordering technology at a select group of ten restaurants in and around the Chicago area. Reportedly, the new system has shown to have a roughly 85% accuracy rating on orders.
Kempczinski stated that he believes that this new technology will be making appearances in restaurants all across the country within the next few upcoming years.
“There is a big leap between going from 10 restaurants in Chicago to 14,000 restaurants across the U.S. with an infinite number of promo permutations, menu permutations, dialect permutations, weather — I mean, on and on and on and on,” stated Kempczinski. “Do I think in five years from now you’re going to see a voice in the drive-thru? I do, but I don’t think that this is going to be something that happens in the next year or so.”
Just two short years ago, McDonald’s bought several startups centered around the creation of artificial intelligence. Apprente, one such startup, can facilitate the automation of voice-based ordering in multiple languages.
Another group of fast-food executives stated confirmation that the lawmakers’ attempts to increase the federal minimum wage are a driving factor for the push towards complete automation. The chairman of global fast-food franchising company FAT Brands and former CEO of McDonald’s, Ed Rensi, issued a statement to FOX Business that an increase in the minimum wage would place heavy pressure on restaurants to increase their current prices as expenses rise
“When you raise prices 1%, you lose about 1% of your transaction costs,” stated Rensi. “And you have to work really hard to recover that through promotion, marketing, you know, all kinds of local events and it’s not an easy thing to do, particularly when you’re living on a very high number of transactions.”
“You got a choice, you go broke by raising prices or you go broke by losing money because you can’t raise prices,” Rensi concluded.
Since Uncle Joe took office back in January, groups of lawmakers have created multiple proposals to raise the federal minimum wage.
A recently completed study released from the Congressional Budget Office has stated that while a $15 minimum wage would help increase the incomes for around 900,000 Americans, it would also lead to the unemployment of around 1.4 million people.