During the pandemic, finding employees has become difficult. The fast food industry has been hit especially hard by a shortage of employees.
Many restaurant workers have left the industry for reasons including better pay, fewer health risks, and more stability. Additionally, enhanced unemployment benefits in the U.S. have kept many workers out of the workforce.
Bite Ninja offers a new approach to help alleviate the employee shortage. This service uses technology to allow workers to take orders at drive-thru restaurants remotely. Workers do not need to be in the restaurant to take the orders. Workers are provided by Bite Ninja, and can work for a variety of Bite Ninja’s customers on an as needed basis. The customer at the drive-thru may not even know that their order is being taken remotely.
Video Spotlight: Bite Ninja Product Video (Mar 20, 2021, Bite Ninja)
This post is based on the TechCrunch article, Bite Ninja scoops up pre-seed funding to reimagine restaurant working environments, by Christine Hall, August 11, 2021; the Restaurant Business Online article, As staffing woes continue, some restaurants turn to technology, by Joe Guszkowski, April 28, 2021; the NRN article, Bite Ninja outsources drive-thru operations to gig employees working from home, by Joanna Fantozzi, March 12, 2021; and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: leaf/123RF.
1. Why would workers want this type of job?
Guidance: The biggest advantage is that workers can work from home, selecting from a variety of hours from different restaurants across the country. By working from home, they avoid any travel time to work, have options of working at restaurants that are not in their geographic area, and avoid exposure to COVID-19.
2. What are the benefits to fast food restaurants for using this service?
Guidance: The biggest advantage is that you can now draw on a workforce that extends beyond the local community, and from workers that can’t or prefer not to go to work at the restaurant. Also, it allows restaurants to hire workers on an “as-needed” basis. Restaurants don’t have to deal with setting schedules.
Another advantage: Bite Ninja can share workers across multiple restaurants. For example, a Bite Ninja worker could transfer from one restaurant to another as demand changes, possibly changing time zones.
3. Are there any drawbacks to this service?
Guidance: As long as the customer doesn’t see a degradation in order-taking performance, there are few drawbacks. The biggest issues will deal with the technology. Is the restaurant’s internet reliable and fast enough to support remote order taking? Also, can the technology integrate with a restaurant’s existing systems? And, of course, gig workers at Bite Ninja must be available when restaurants need them.
4. What are other alternatives to help fast food restaurants with their employee shortage?
Guidance: One option is improving the systems used to hire employees. Many fast food restaurants are turning to online services such as Landed and Seasoned to assist. Landed uses AI to help identify potential employees. Some franchises are setting up special campaigns to recruit employees.
Another option is to improve performance to reduce the number of workers that it takes to fill orders. This has an additional advantage of cost savings. Sonics, McDonalds, and others are turning to voice automation using AI to take your order. Another approach is to change the order taking process by pushing orders to apps or online, thus eliminating the traditional order taking process at fast food restaurants.
Although not ideal, some restaurants are reducing their hours, and using their available workforce to staff these reduced hours.