Jun 10, 2023 2 min read

How your favorite fast food chains plan to use AI

Drive-thrus are evolving with the help of AI, as major fast-food chains like Carl's Jr., Hardee's, and Wendy's embrace automated order-taking, reducing labor costs and aiming for a more efficient and seamless experience for customers.
How your favorite fast food chains plan to use AI

In 1948 In-N-Out Burger, the iconic west coast burger joint, revolutionized the dining experience by introducing the world's first-ever drive-thru restaurant. Harry and Esther Snyder astutely identified the convenience and satisfaction of serving hungry customers directly in their cars. They were ahead of their time! It's only fitting for me to note that operators came up with this innovative concept. At Branded, we believe in testing before investing. If an idea works for the operators, it works for us too. And if it's endorsed by Schatzy "The Restaurant Guy," and our team of subject matter experts, it's definitely a winner.

Fast forward to 2023, and we continue to indulge in the unparalleled luxury of this pioneering concept. AKA- the best part of any road trip. But don't be surprised if you're drive-thru experience is going to look a little different moving forward.

You may have already noticed that some of your favorite chains are harnessing the power of AI in their drive-thrus. For example, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has partnered with Valyant AI, a voice-based AI intelligence customer service platform, to automate order-taking at the drive-thru with conversational AI. The technology is helping the brand take spoken orders while reducing labor costs.

CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, recently expanded its partnership with Presto who has reported that “95 percent of its drive-thru orders taken are done so without any staff intervention.”

Following their footsteps, industry giant Wendy’s has announced a deal with Google to compose their AI drive-thru which will pilot in June. CEO of Wendy’s Todd Penegor said, that this new drive-thru feature aims to “take out the slowest point in the order process, ordering at the speaker box.”

For all the skeptics, here are just a few ways AI can better your drive-thru:

1. Reduce Customer Wait Time: Chatbots instantly take customer orders when they pull up to the drive-thru freeing up employees to focus on other tasks.
2. They Won’t Forget the Ketchup: AI can free up employees’ time allowing them to focus on order accuracy, food preparation and payment processing.
3. Increase Average Ticket: Your team will have total control over the up-sell process.
4. Mitigate Labor Shortage: Quick-serve restaurants are dealing with average labor turnover between 100% and 150%. Drive-thru AI can offset these challenges.

We're well on our way to making the drive-thru process seamless. So if you're still waiting on those long lines, ponder this: where will you be when you order your last meal from an actual human being?

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