If you’re one of thousands of McDonald’s workers who protested the restaurant in the ‘Fight for $15’, you just got served your answer with a side of fries.
Not only did McDonald’s decide not to increase the wages of their workers, they’re now unveiling plans to get self-service kiosks installed into every restaurant by 2020. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook made this announcement this week, with plans on how they will get it done.
Over the next few years, kiosks will go up in 1,000 restaurants every quarter, reaching all 14,000 domestic McDonald’s by 2020. This is a major blow to workers who have been fighting the company to offer a more livable wage. Now, a lot of those workers may be out of a job.
Of course, kiosks only replace front of the house order-takers, as they still need someone behind the scenes to cook and assemble the food. Cutting the employee count in each store will undoubtedly save the billion-dollar company millions in the long run, which might spur on continued debates about how companies like McDonald’s pay their employees.
Still, the United States is behind the curve in terms of technological advancement. Stores in Canada, the U.K., and Australia already use order kiosks, so it was only a matter of time before the U.S. caught up.
While the prevailing thought is to assume McDonald’s is doing this to cut workers and save money, as many industries have turned to technology to improve their bottom line, the company itself says they don’t intend to downsize and are just providing additional options.
The idea is to sell more food. Customers who can take their time, not feel rushed due to a line behind them or a cashier staring at them waiting for their order, they can actually browse their options and are more likely to order extra food. It’s a convenience and just another option they’re adding to better serve customers.
According to McDonalds, it was only a few years ago when you only had to options: hit the counter or make your way through the drive-thru. Now, you can order online, with your phone, and even use their curbside options where you just park and someone will bring your food right to your car.
Terri Hickey, spokesperson for McDonald’s, says the stores will “still have cashiers — kiosks provide another option for customers to order and pay. We’re finding with kiosks, customers tend to feel less rushed, take their time, browse the menu, and often order more.”
Rather than letting go of the additional cashiers who may no longer be needed, McDonald’s says they plan on using them in different ways, such as improving guest experience, offering table service, and running orders out to curbside mobile customers.
To the workers who demand a higher wage, this change must be scary. It’s only the first step in restaurants meeting the technological demand. Some of the largest employers in the country are fast food restaurants, and it’s where most people get their first legitimate job experience.
While McDonald’s is promising not to cut any jobs (right now), how long before we find these kiosks at every table, eliminating the need for cashiers in the first place?
And it’s not like the company isn’t trying out other high-tech gadgets, such as the burger grabber and flipper, which can make an astounding 360 burgers in one hour, eliminating the human component. That’s not all. Right now, a conveyor belt system is being developed that can create and assemble burgers to order.
These types of innovations will only continue to happen and businesses will always choose to adapt to save money and stay competitive.