Join Jeremy and Ryan as they update their audience on the status of the industry as it pertains to the $15/hour pay raise! It’s been almost 2 years since they tackled this topic, so what’s changed? You’ll have to listen to know!
Announcer: This is the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast helping you run your restaurant better.
Ryan Williams: All right, guys. Welcome back to they Restaurant Technology Guys podcast. I am Ryan Williams, and I am joined today by Jeremy.
Ryan Williams: Jeremy, you know what I’m gonna say. What is going on today?
Jeremy Julian: Not too much. How you doing, Ryan?
Ryan Williams: There’s like never a lot going on in your world.
Jeremy Julian: There’s not. Well, you know …
Ryan Williams: But, I feel like there’s a lot going on.
Jeremy Julian: I sit around here, and I just … I’m just a squirrel trying to find a nut there, Ryan.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. I do walk by your office, and you are playing a lot of Minesweeper. I don’t know what that’s all about. I didn’t even know Minesweeper was on Windows 10. Somehow, you finagled it. Are you running a VM to just play Minesweeper?
Jeremy Julian: I gotta get my Minesweeper in, or my day doesn’t go right.
Ryan Williams: I feel you. I gotcha. Yeah, I’m the same with Oregon Trail, but I really have to go way back on that one.
Jeremy Julian: Wow. I haven’t heard the Oregon Trail in a while, so …
Ryan Williams: Dysentery, man, every time. I think about the different ways that I could go out, and it’s always dysentery.
Jeremy Julian: Amazing how that works.
Ryan Williams: I don’t know why. I just make all the wrong choices, and I’m like, you know what, I’m gonna ford the river, and it’s like, you got flooded. You lost all your meat. And, I’m like, dang it, I don’t have any bullets, either.
Ryan Williams: Oregon Trail, on the podcast.
Ryan Williams: So …
Jeremy Julian: I’m sure the next time we talk to some of those people that are out there listening, they’re kinda go, what in the heck just happened.
Jeremy Julian: So … but, it’s all good. This is always how we start the podcast, this a little bit of banter, back and forth. And, we appreciate you guys giving us that latitude to do what get to do.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. It’s because we deliver such good value later on in the show, typically, typically speaking.
Jeremy Julian: Yes. And, that’s why they’ll put up with our nonsense in the beginning.
Ryan Williams: Right. Exactly. And, I think it’s entertaining, personally. I’m entertained, and that’s really all that …
Jeremy Julian: There are very few Oregon Trail references at 9 o’clock in the morning.
Ryan Williams: There should be more.
Ryan Williams: But anyway, Jeremy, like I was saying, we do try to deliver the heat after our little banter. And speaking of delivering the heat, we have a pretty hot topic for our listeners, today.
Ryan Williams: Jeremy, a couple of years ago, if my SoundCloud reference is accurate, about two years ago, we had a topic called, combating 15 dollars an hour minimum wage increase.
Jeremy Julian: Yep.
Ryan Williams: It was a very successful episode for us, you know, episode three, had about 1,000 downloads, some crazy traction for us. Obviously, people were concerned about it. Obviously, it’s something that people didn’t know about. They had question marks all over the page. So, it’s two years later. It’s been two years down the road. We have a new president. A lot of things have changed, right? There’s so much that’s changed.
Ryan Williams: And so, guys, we thought it would be an interesting thing to go, and kind of revisit the 15 dollar an hour topic, and say, where are we today? What’s happened in the two years? You know, in that last episode, like I said, we had question marks all over the page, but today, maybe some of those question marks were answered, maybe some of them weren’t answered, and maybe some new question marks came up. I mean there’s still a lot to be learned.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah. And, it’s amazing even just in two short years how much has changed, and so, to use Ryan’s wording, bringing the heat, we know a lot has changed, you know, this announcement of where minimum wage is going, and kind of that whole 15 dollar an hour … That was probably the hottest topic two years ago. And, often time with technology, there are some smaller players that are doing things pretty aggressively, but it really takes some of these larger brands a little bit longer to be able to modify their business practices to combat some of these things.
Jeremy Julian: And so, we kinda wanted to bring you guys, what do we see two years later after that announcement. In certain cities, 15 dollars an hour is a legitimate minimum wage. In other parts of the country, it’s still not there, yet. But federally, the whole idea of 15 dollars an hour minimum wage is coming. It’s been announced, and it’s gonna phase in. But, even in any restaurant business, everybody knows that your two largest costs are one, your food cost, and two, your labor cost. And so, figuring out how to manage and deal with those different things is huge.
Jeremy Julian: And so, hopefully, we can give you guys some additional pieces that if you haven’t implemented it, or you didn’t listen to the episode two years ago, you can go back and listen to it from two years ago. Listen to this one, and get some ideas as to what has changed, and what you might be able to do within your business to be able to, not necessarily combat it, because you’re probably not gonna go to Congress and change the law, but what can you do within your business to make sure that you can still maintain your lifestyle, still grow your business, still grow your business value, and use the tools that are available both now, what was available a couple of years ago, and what’s coming out.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. It’s more of an offset. It’s not necessarily like a combating. I’m not saying go out there, paint a picket sign, and go stand out in front of your town square, and cause a riot, or whatever. But, what can we do as technology people, as the Restaurant Technology Guys, and what can you guys do as restaurant operators, or people working within the restaurant to offset some of that cost.
Jeremy Julian: Yep, to offset some of that cost, and, or, manage it, and get the most effective use of the people that work within your team. We’ve done some interviews on hiring, and some hiring best practices. We’ve talked a little bit about scheduling pieces over the years, but in general, we know that this is a big cost to your business, and if not done properly, you can have both sides of it. You can have an understaffed system, or an overstaffed system that ultimately could cost you your business if you don’t do it properly, and so, making sure that you’re staying on top of the latest trends that are out there, to make sure that you guys are able to deal with them, so it doesn’t hit you after the fact, and before it’s too late.
Ryan Williams: Yeah, and just one little disclaimer, guys. This isn’t a political statement. We, 100 percent, our Restaurant Technology Guys, our motto, if you’ve listened to the podcast before, it’s people process technology. We’re all about the people. So, we’re not saying we’re anti 15 dollars an hour. We’re not saying we’re for it, not saying we’re against it.
Ryan Williams: The fact of the matter is, is it’s happening, and it is a challenge for business operators to handle. It’s a big increase, especially if you’re looking at maybe going from 10 dollars an hour, to 15. You’re looking at a pretty substantial increase in your bottom line.
Ryan Williams: So, we’re not saying whether we’re for it, against it. We’re just saying, how do we use the tools that are in existence today to help offset and maximize the output of that 15 dollars every hour.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah, and the profitability of your business, and what types of business challenges, what types of investments do you need to make in your business in order to be ready to take on that labor increase, and what different things should you be thinking about.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. So, Jeremy, let’s start it off by, let’s kind of go back in time a little bit. Let’s go back in time, two years ago. Let’s see, what would that be, 2016? So, 2016, it’s crazy to say.
Jeremy Julian: Yep.
Ryan Williams: Crazy to say. But, two years ago, 2016, this stuff just started kinda coming out, started having the conversation, the fight for 15, all of that good stuff. What were we thinking back then? What were the questions that we had?
Jeremy Julian: Well, in the restaurant industry, I mean, often times, just overall, it often times is an entry level position, for many, many people. And, we’ve talked in the past about just how many people came up from within the restaurant industry. My very first job was a restaurant job, back in high school. And so, I know a lot of people kinda start there. And unfortunately, well not unfortunately, just in general, this low wage, low skillset job often times is where you can get some of those high school, early college years type people.
Jeremy Julian: And so, as this wage increase, in this level job is there, it’s creating some challenges. Because often times in different businesses, that entry level job that they have people serving, busing, and some of these positions that don’t require a ton of experience, they often times were paying minimum wage. And then, they were offsetting that by tips, and some of those kinds of things, in order to make their wage a bit more livable. It really kinda struck a huge cord with the restaurant industry because often times in the restaurant, 90 plus percent of the staff is hourly, and is at the minimum wage level.
Jeremy Julian: And, we’ve also talked on the podcast, the fact that the restaurant industry is the second largest employer within the United States, behind the U.S. Government. Well, that alone says, well, you know what, if it’s the second largest employer, it’s gonna impact a significant amount of people.
Jeremy Julian: And so, a lot of people have said, “What do I need to do?”
Jeremy Julian: One thing that I would love to also point out is I believe we put out a white paper on the Restaurant Technology Guys, you can go search for that, go download it, and read some of what we were thinking that was probably produced, as well, two years ago, whether it’s the podcast, or these types of things. Go look at what we had suggested back then, and then … I wouldn’t put it passed us, that some time in the next six months, or so, that we kinda say, you know what, another white paper on kinda what we’ve seen, and what people have done, and what the impacts of those choices that they’ve made are.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. That’s episode three, guys. If you go back in the archives, go to episode three. That’s the combating 15 dollar wage. And again, it’s a brave, new world, now. And, it was a big question mark for us. We saw it as a big opportunity, not only for innovation. We thought that innovation would occur due to this legislature, but also, a really good opportunity to hold on to staff longer, a good opportunity to really kinda drive people up through the ranks within the restaurant. Because, if you’re being well paid at a position, then there’s really not a whole lot of reason to go move around. Those are a couple of things that we had talked about, but Jeremy, where are we today, with that stuff?
Jeremy Julian: Well, I mean, in certain parts of the country, as we talked about, this legislator, and, or, 15 dollars an hour is their state, local municipality minimum wage, and in certain industries it’s actually impacted them and hurt them in the restaurant industry.
Jeremy Julian: I was at a conference with one of our partners that does scheduling, and they had suggested that in certain parts of the country because of not being able to afford to keep their doors open, either closing permanently, you know, Seattle, there’s been a lot of stuff that’s gone on in the restaurant industry where people have just chosen to shut down, or they’re modifying their hours, and they’re not as accessible in those slow times. And so, I know in the Bay Area, and kinda that Silicon Valley area, one, it’s that there’s such a disparity between certain parts of the country where the cost of living is so much higher.
Jeremy Julian: And so, the federal government is trying to balance that from a … again, it’s not a political statement, necessarily, but they’re looking at it. But, 15 dollars an hour in potentially, Seattle, or the Bay Area, or LA, is really challenging to have a job and still be able to pay to live, whereas in certain parts of the country where it’s a lot less expensive, it’s a different story. But, what we’ve seen, again, Seattle’s probably the most well documented, that there’s a lot of single unit operators that don’t have a lot of buying power, and a lot of assets that area on the books that they can exercise to be able to invest, have actually just shut down. And, they’ve just chosen to not be in the restaurant business because they just can’t afford to stay open.
Ryan Williams: Our listeners know, Jeremy, our listeners know how it is, restaurants operate on such a razor thin margin, already. Any change to that overhead, or that bottom line, really makes a big impact. And, it’s not so much on the way of life of the owner, the operator. It’s if you have one, or two restaurants, it’s not like you’re necessarily living in the lap of luxury, just because you have two restaurants. It’s a labor of love. We say it all the time, that starting a restaurant, you don’t start a restaurant to make a ton of money.
Jeremy Julian: Looking to get wealthy, exactly.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. You do it because you love the industry, and you love serving people. So, you’re already operating on a pretty thin margin. You’re just making that margin even tighter, that noose is a little bit tight around the neck, so …
Jeremy Julian: Yeah. And so, I think what people have done, that haven’t necessarily invested in it, is they’ve changed their business practices, they’ve changed their hours, they’ve shut down on a Monday, and Tuesday, whereas they used to be open on a Monday and Tuesday, but those are the slowest days of the week for that particular restaurant.
Jeremy Julian: So, they’ve just said, “You know what, instead of that, we’re just not even gonna open. And, I’ll moonlight as a general manager at another restaurant during those nights, or whatever. I’ll serve food. I’m the owner, but I’m gonna go serve food for somebody else, because Monday and Tuesday nights, I’m just so slow that I can’t figure out how to do that. I don’t have the ability to stay open when …”
Jeremy Julian: And,other people have taken price increases which often times has a negative impact on top line sales. They’ll take price increases in order to make up for labor cost, and keep their labor percentages there. But often times, over time, people start to look at it, and go, well, I just spent a 100 dollars to eat fast casual food for my family of four. Well, that’s probably not as high as a value as it used to be when it was 60 or 70 dollars for that family of four to eat out.
Ryan Williams: The same thing holds true for the whole community. So, the cost of stocking bread. If the minimum wage goes up to 15 dollars an hour, the person stocking bread in the supermarket is getting paid a higher minimum wage price, that supermarket has to offset that by increasing their costs. Everything, like all the costs go up.
Jeremy Julian: Well, and I think to stay away from the political side, let’s talk about what we’ve seen people do to combat these things. So …
Ryan Williams: Exactly. You know, one of the biggest things that we’ve seen, and Jeremy, you’ve said it before, in some of the largest brands out there, take a look at Panera, McDonald’s, Shake Shack, they’ve gone to this autonomous model, or like a kiosk model. But basically, the guest walks in, and I know know if you eat at McDonald’s, I probably eat there more often than I would like to admit, but you go in, and their kiosks are very appealing. They’re huge screens, very easy to use, very appealing, but … And, it’s cool. As a consumer, it’s a cool thing, but it has business purpose. And, what is that purpose?
Jeremy Julian: I mean the business purpose, ultimately, is something that they’re looking to reduce the amount of cashiers needed to serve those things. Again, anybody that’s listened to us for a while, and knows that we sit and banter back and forth, and create our timeline for this to make sure that we’ve got the content figured out.
Jeremy Julian: But, Ryan had suggested he was in a very large retailer, supermarket style retailer, and there was one cashier for the entire store. There’s 20 lanes up at the front of the store. There’s 20 lanes, and only one cashier working on a Thursday night. Well, part of that is, that retailer chose to have less cashiers probably to combat some level of sales volume, and they’ll just let the consumer wait. Again, the consumers are being driven to do this work themselves on a kiosk, because then they can get away, instead of having two or three cashiers, they can get away with throwing one cashier and six kiosks. And over a two to three year period, if you’re driving more and more consumers to that, you won’t have to have the same level of customer service.
Jeremy Julian: And, it’s hard to hire labor. We’ve talked about it. It’s hard to higher labor in this day and age. We’ve talked about the best practices there. But if you can now have the technology do the work for you, it ultimately has an opportunity to deliver a better guest experience, if it’s done properly.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. You know Jeremy, it’s funny, too, as we’re forced to make these decisions, unfortunately, I had to go to the one server, which by the way, she was moving super slow last night. Oh, man, but they had probably, 15 per side, 15 self checkouts. But, I had to because of the way California law is, I was buying a bottle of champagne, and had to go to the slowest server in this retailer’s history. But …
Jeremy Julian: It sounds like somebody’s bitter that his champagne couldn’t get started, his champagne party couldn’t get started, but …
Ryan Williams: Oh, I’m not bitter, much. Oh, no. I did. I popped that bottle right there in line. That’s also probably why she was not too happy.
Jeremy Julian: She probably wasn’t very happy with you.
Ryan Williams: But, I have been conditioned because of travel, because of movies, because of these different areas of my life, I’m conditioned now, to go in, and I actually find myself gravitating to the self service kiosk. Maybe, it’s strategic that they put a slow checkout person there, because they’re like, we want people to do their own self checkout.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah. No, but it’s definitely something that we see, more and more investment than we have for years.
Ryan Williams: Exactly. And so, if people are conditioned to do this for themselves, they’re going to start gravitating to it. And, it’s what we see.
Ryan Williams: And, the other thing, Jeremy, is, especially in restaurants, is that you start seeing some of this serverless … You’re starting to see, not only self service, so self service fits that QSR, that quick service, fast food model, really, really, well, but you’re also starting to see it kinda pop up in the fine dining world. I believe I was at a Paul Martin’s in Chicago. And, I sat down. And, there was an autonomous wine ordering system. It was kinda just more of a wine flip book, but …
Jeremy Julian: But, you’re definitely seeing all different types of businesses from … Stadiums are doing it. Lots of different places are playing with different solutions that are out there to try, and create a guest experience. Consumers are now getting adept to being able to order for themselves, and know what that expectation is.
Jeremy Julian: And so, the rise over the last two years of customer self-order, whether it be on a tablet, on a kiosk, or on your mobile device, your mobile phone, has gone, I don’t wanna say through the roof, but the amount of it has been significant over the last couple of years. And, it is amongst the top three, or four things, that we get people talking to us about, not just because our Northstar Point of Sale solution has that option, that we work with. But in general, it is one of the largest things that all point of sale buyers, and restaurant technology people are considering, and thinking about.
Ryan Williams: You know, Jeremy, just talking about kind of that autonomous operation, right? … some autonomous operation, you see robotics happening a lot. I don’t know if any of our listeners go to the National Restaurant Association show, the NRA show, robotics has become huge in the industry. And, a lot of that’s in the back of house, or in the kitchen. But, you see autonomous burger flippers. You see fries getting dunked into the grease, on their own, getting pulled out on their own.
Jeremy Julian: The McDonald’s around the corner, from the office, here, has a soda machine in the drive-thru, that when they ring it up in the point of sale, it fills it with ice, and then, fills the soda, and sets it out for the cashier to hand to you through the drive-thru window. And so, that happens. The autonomous sushi making machines, those have been around for a couple of years.
Ryan Williams: Those are cool.
Jeremy Julian: So, across the board, robotics, and the use of robotics has been also something that a lot of people have invested in, in the last couple years, for sure.
Ryan Williams: But really, Jeremy, what we’ve seen, and we’re kinda dancing around it, but really what it is, is this has spurred for one reason, or the other.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah, whether it’s just the 15 dollars an hour, or …
Ryan Williams: Or, just the availability of technology, but the innovation in our space has just blossomed. I mean, it’s absolutely just kind of started to boom. And, if you guys have listened to any of our old webinars, back when we did webinars, gosh, if we’re talking two years ago on our podcasts, that was probably five or six years ago, doing webinars. But, if you were listening to our webinars, we’d always say, retail’s doing it, now. The restaurant industry will be doing it in three to five years.
Jeremy Julian: Yep.
Ryan Williams: But right now, we are lock step with retail. And in fact, I would even go on a limb, and say, we’re outpacing retail.
Jeremy Julian: We’re probably out innovating. I would definitely suggest that we’re outpacing retail, and I think that there’s a lot of places that we in the restaurant technology space, our out innovating, and there’s more innovation happening within our space than ever before. It’s been an exciting time to be around, and to be on the forefront of it, quite honestly.
Ryan Williams: And, it’s been stuff that we didn’t even know we needed. You know? It’s been like the infomercial, the ShamWow, for the last two years. It’s been like, here’s a new app that does this. Or, here’s a new technology that does this. And, it’s been absolutely mind boggling, and beautiful to watch it all kind of unfold.
Ryan Williams: One of the biggest things, Jeremy, that we talk about all the time, it goes back to the importance of that four-wall economics. And to our listeners, you can go back and listen to our other podcasts, but in a nutshell, that four-wall economics is how to maximize the per dollar revenue for each square foot within your restaurant, and that may mean going outside of your restaurant through catering, deliver, that kind of stuff.
Ryan Williams: One of the biggest conversations, Jeremy, that I know I have, I’m sure you have, is the advent, and the rise of these on-demand food delivery services.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah, and I think that that’s … we’ve talked about four-wall economics, and we’ve talked about the ways to get outside of your space, and not having to have your own labor. Well, there’s been this rise of the DoorDashes, the Uber Eats, and these different people, but often times if you evaluate the … It could increase your sales, number one, and add extra revenue to the top line, but often times, you’re not having to pay for very much labor. You’re not gonna have to increase your labor to drive those additional sales.
Jeremy Julian: And so, figuring out different avenues for your consumers to be able to utilize the labor that’s already there, within your business, whether that’s for catering, whether that’s for cooking the food, whether that’s for the delivery services, those are all significant components that you should all consider. And it definitely … getting the right business partner in, to serve those customers, to drive additional revenue while utilizing the same people that are in your staff, are huge pieces.
Jeremy Julian: And, one thing I do wanna make sure that I mention before we go too far away from it, that we have seen as people have started to implement, whether it’s the kiosk, or this DoorDash type of opportunity, is, be cautious about your business process.
Jeremy Julian: Ryan mentioned that people process technology, and we are strong proponents about having good people, and bringing them up to speed. But, make sure that your process can manage that, and that you, before you go add these technology pieces on to that. One of the biggest things that one of our clients has dealt with, as they introduced DoorDash nationally is, the fact that the food delivery, and the labeling of that, that process, that haven’t necessarily figured it out where are they gonna store the food? How are they gonna deliver it? Those are big pieces that you need to figure out within your brand, as you’re talking about the four-wall economics answer is, make sure that you are evaluating. Can your kitchen staff handle it? Do you have your packaging set up? Do you have a place to store the food, ahead of the DoorDash guy?
Jeremy Julian: I know for myself, often times, I don’t remember where Michelle and I were the other day, my wife and I, but we walked into this restaurant, and actually, no, it was Art and I, we walked into this restaurant, and there were six delivery drivers sitting in the dining room. And, it created this odd, awkward atmosphere for me, to not walk up to the cashier. It was just this weird deal.
Jeremy Julian: And so, making sure that you’ve thought through that. I’m glad that they had six people that were delivering food, but what does that look like, and how do you deal with that so that it doesn’t create a bad customer experience for the people that are in your business, as well as the people that are those deliver drivers. So, it is a huge opportunity, but do it well, and make sure you think through those things as a brand, before you just jump straight into it.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. If you guys are considering adding any of these type of technology robotics, customer self-ordering, DoorDash, how do you manage the 15 iPads that suddenly popped up on your hostess station because you have all of these ordering things?
Ryan Williams: If you have questions, just ask us. Just ask us. Go on Twitter, @restechguys, restauranttechnologiesguys.com. Just go ask the question. We deal with it every single day, guys, no joke. These are the conversations that we have.
Ryan Williams: I actually, Jeremy, it’s funny. I had a dream. I was talking about restaurant technology. It’s gotten bad.
Jeremy Julian: We’ve sucked you into the vortex that is restaurant technology, Mr. Williams.
Ryan Williams: It’s bad. But, because of that, I can now speak intelligently to people when they call, or tweet at us, and ask us, hey, I wanna add Uber Eats, how do we make it not be awkward for the patrons that are in the restaurant.
Jeremy Julian: In the dining room, yeah.
Ryan Williams: So, reach out to us, guys. We love getting that feedback. If you have something else, maybe you’ve found a way to maximize your employees, the people that you’re already paying, maybe you’ve been hit with a minimum wage increase, and it’s impacted your business positively, or negatively. We’d also love to hear about that, too. Because we hear about the good and the bad, but we only know, what we know. So, reach out to us, and let us know.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah. Educate us, and let us know. I did … Ryan and I were talking about it earlier, I love hearing from people that are listening to the podcast, and it’s always surprising to me when I’m on the phone with a customer, or a vendor, and they mention it, that they do listen. And so, it’s always … Last week, I was visiting somebody, and they’d mentioned that they, they were mentioning Ryan’s coffee habit, and we shouldn’t get through an entire podcast without a reference to Ryan’s Starbucks habit, and so … They were mentioning that …
Jeremy Julian: They said, ” Oh, yeah. We love your banter about you and Ryan, and his Starbucks habit.”
Jeremy Julian: And so …
Ryan Williams: Well, I’m glad we got the reference out, now.
Jeremy Julian: We have to make sure, you know? You’re still looking for that sponsorship from Starbucks that they can pay for your habit.
Ryan Williams: I know. What’s up? I need to start like a GoFundMe page, or something like that. So, anyway.
Jeremy Julian: That’s very millennial of you.
Ryan Williams: Oh, you’re right. Gosh, oh, man. Okay. Well, that’s another thing we like to banter about, my age.
Jeremy Julian: Let’s move on.
Ryan Williams: So, Jeremy, the other side of it, so we’ve been talking about the restaurants a lot. The restaurants don’t exist in a vacuum. There are people out there, buying the food. They are out there paying money, and they are the ones using the self-service kiosks. They are the ones using the Uber Eats. They are the ones that are driving the people in the back. They are the ones buying the burgers that a little robot back there is flipping, you know, Rosie the robot.
Ryan Williams: Like I mentioned before, the consumer behavior has been crafted over the last five, definitely in the last two years, but even further back from that, going to kiosks at airports, going to kiosks at movie theaters. Consumer behavior, in general, has changed. It hasn’t just been for the restaurants.
Jeremy Julian: Well, I mean, so many more of the people that are now dining out as the age demographic, as the … we joked about the millennials, but they are now the spending generation. They grew up, many of them, touching a screen, whether it’s to watch television, or to make a phone call, or to send a message. That type of consumer is the consumer that’s out buying today, and now that generation is also having children, that definitively grew up …
Jeremy Julian: My two year old started touching an iPad when she was two weeks old, three weeks old. It was just part of what she did. And so, more and more, they expect to be able to drive their own experience. They expect to be able to drive their own timing. They expect to be able to create their experience the way that they want to create it, because everywhere else in their life, they’ve had instant gratification. They’ve had the ability to post a photo on Instagram, and instantly know whether people like that photo, or not. And, they instantly have been able to craft their world view based on this experience of doing it themselves. And so, now, often times, consumers are choosing to go to those kiosks that are in that demographic that grew up with that, rather than wanting to go talk to a cashier.
Jeremy Julian: You hear the people that are a bit older, “Ah, back in my day, you didn’t have any of that stuff.”
Jeremy Julian: Well, at the end of the day, many more of these consumers are now looking to drive straight to the kiosks. Ryan talked about it earlier. If he had a choice to pay for himself, and to be able to go to a kiosk, and not have to sit in line, and wait for that cashier …
Ryan Williams: Forever.
Jeremy Julian: I can guarantee you, he would have chosen to go there.
Ryan Williams: I waited forever.
Jeremy Julian: You waited forever. I’m glad you made it in for the podcast, today.
Ryan Williams: It was like five minutes, though. That is very millennial of me to say, but it felt like forever.
Jeremy Julian: Well, but it’s the truth. And, you know, that world that we live in, now, we are used to being able to get that real time. I mean, Domino’s, you order a pizza, and it automatically shows you the whole methodology that it’s getting pulled, and this is your pizza driver, and then, it’s on it’s way. Uber Eats and DoorDash, that’s, oh, the order’s been received by the customer. You’re used to that. And so, when you go into a place that offers that, sometimes it starts as a novelty, but I think often times, once you get used it, it is the way to go.
Jeremy Julian: I don’t know the last time I went into a bank, but I still have to interact with my bank from a self-service ATM. I can tell you the last time I flew, which was probably last week, or two weeks ago, or three weeks ago, based on whenever this podcast drops, because I’m traveling at least twice a month, nowadays.
Ryan Williams: I was just gonna say, you literally just got back from the airport, like yesterday.
Jeremy Julian: I did just get back from the airport just yesterday, but we’re not gonna talk about that.
Jeremy Julian: So with that, I often times won’t even talk to a gate agent because it’s going to … I’m going to check-in on my phone. I wanna be able to control that experience.
Jeremy Julian: So, as a restaurateur, consumer behavior, and consumer expectations continue to change, and they want that. They want to be able to control that. And so, how does your restaurant not only are combating the 15 dollar an hour minimum wage increase, but how do they utilize technology to give the consumers what they want. And in essence, you also can then, potentially re utilize that same labor that you had, that was serving that table, to now do different things within your restaurant, whether it’s dealing with the DoorDash driver, or helping clean, or helping cook, or helping package, or helping deliver. There’s a lot of different … it’s not just cut heads, it’s how do I re utilize, and repurpose that staff to do something different, to deliver a better guest experience.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. Maybe you start offering these delivery services, so your table turns aren’t as important because your head, is all different, now. So, your server, instead of prioritizing getting these people out the door, maybe it is creating an immemorable experience, maybe it is creating a great experience within the restaurant because you have the supplemental Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, whatever, on …
Jeremy Julian: To be able to drive top line sales.
Ryan Williams: Exactly. Exactly. It’s funny though, Jeremy. I’m gonna go 180 degrees. There is a culture, if any of you guys are on social media. I’m in marketing, so I click on everything, and I get tons of weird retargeting ads. There is a culture that has kind of crafted itself of this, do it for me, culture. It’s the Amazon Prime’s. It’s the Uber Eats. It’s the, you name it, right? AmazonFresh, HelloFresh…
Jeremy Julian: Let me get something delivered.
Ryan Williams: Yeah, right. So, I’ll admit it. I did one of the meal delivery things for some time, and it’s like, go source the vegetables for me. I could very easily go to the grocery store, but it’s a, do it for me, service. Right? It’s a make a meal for me. Plan my week in meals. And, send me the ingredients. And, I will cook it for myself. It’s a, do it for me.
Ryan Williams: Which is totally a 180, because we literally just said, “Hey, people want to do things for themselves.”
Ryan Williams: But, it’s a convenience thing. It’s a culture convenience.
Jeremy Julian: But even in that world, how does the restaurant play into that space? How does the restaurant now, potentially start to deliver that same level of value to those consumers, to market to them?
Jeremy Julian: I remember years ago, I was at Maggiano’s, and Maggiano’s has for a long time had this, you buy this entrée, and now, you get a take home portion of that same entrée for yourself. And so, they’ve been on the forefront of this, do it ourselves, idea, for many, many years. And, I agree with that. How does the restaurant play in to that, to continue to get more mindshare, and get more return visits from that same guest?
Ryan Williams: Yeah. How come, name a restaurant, Chili’s. BJ’s, name a restaurant, go partner with HomeFresh, or HelloFresh. Go partner with Home Chef, and Blue Apron. Put one of your meals as a featured meal for the week.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah, or maybe it’s the BJ’s Pizookie that’s part of the dessert that comes with these things.
Ryan Williams: Or maybe, you’re a multinational, and you already have distribution chains set up. Maybe, you do your own. The opportunities are out there. Or maybe, you do your own delivery service, or maybe … the opportunities are endless. But, the fact of the matter is, what has occurred is, often times, let’s go back 20 years ago, maybe even more than that, let’s go back 25 years ago, I can remember my parents, they would not pay the three dollars to have the pizza delivered to the door. Right? They were like, no, no way.
Jeremy Julian: I’m gonna drive there, and go pick it up.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. They’re like, why would I pay three dollars if I can hop in the car, drive 10 minutes, and save three dollars. That mindset has all, but changed. And, it might be where we live, but I think, just because I see national social media ads, you look at Amazon Prime. You look at the AmazonFresh, the Uber Eats. It’s nationwide.
Jeremy Julian: And often times, it’s buying time. Uber, itself, is buying time. There was nothing necessarily wrong with the taxi service, but it’s this, do it yourself, idea of, let me enable the guest to have their own experience.
Jeremy Julian: And again, I think that that’s … Even the Blue Apron type systems, you get to choose what meals you have. They’ve bundled it and packaged it, but still, if you don’t like salmon, than you don’t choose to buy the salmon dish for that week. You choose to buy the chicken and the beef for the week, because that’s what you’re looking for. So, you’re still allowing your guest to control that experience, and enabling them through technology to control that experience, and thus, in essence, not necessarily having to have a staff member walk them through that process.
Jeremy Julian: So, I agree with you, it is a little bit of a turn away from in store restaurant technology, but how do you grow sales with the same labor that you’ve got, and increase your profile within this customer behavior?
Ryan Williams: And, Jeremy, you know we’re talking about consumer behavior, the last point I wanna make before we change too terribly much on the topic is, frankly, at the end of the day, innovation today is embraced.
Jeremy Julian: Yep.
Ryan Williams: I mean, never before have we been in a time where innovation is more widely embraced. Maybe, it’s the generational shift. Maybe, it’s the attack of the millennial. But, innovation is changing. Innovation and the mindset of innovation, it’s no longer seen as, oh, these kiosks are just here to take people’s jobs. It is truly convenience, and it’s taking the people that are already employed and re imagining them into a way to integrate into that technology, and that convenience, to really make the customer experience shine.
Jeremy Julian: Yep. No. I completely agree. And, I do believe that, in general, we are going to have to innovate our way out of this opportunity in ways that stuff’s gonna come down the path. Years before the 15 dollar an hour thing, it was the healthcare initiative that came up, and restaurants had to pivot. Then, there’s been food safety things that they have to pivot through. So, something that is constant is change, and the restaurants are going to have to utilize … They’re either gonna have to change, or they’re gonna go away.
Jeremy Julian: And so, in our world, hopefully, we can give you guys some things that you should at least be considering through the podcast. And, if you’re listening to us, you clearly have been … you’re a learner. You’re looking to grow. You’re looking to change. And so, hopefully, some of the topics, some of the content that we continue to deliver to you, will help you combat the different legislature changes, the different laws that change, and just the different things that go on with the restaurants every day.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. We’ve talked about one or two solutions that may help this. I think one, or two. That’s …
Jeremy Julian: Yeah. Maybe, one or two.
Ryan Williams: Not to terribly many. We usually just get on here, talk about how I’m a millennial, and how I like Starbucks, a lot. So …
Jeremy Julian: Well, there is that.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. There is that. These things are all true. But, if you guys have any other topics out there, any problems, any challenges, any questions, any concerns, that you guys might have running your business, running your restaurant, we would love to hear about it. We would absolutely take that, craft it into a message, get it out there, because you know what? I guarantee you’re not the only one with that question, with that challenge, or with that hurdle that we need to help you overcome. We absolutely love to provide what we can, and do what we can for our listeners.
Ryan Williams: You know how to reach us. You can reach us on Twitter, @RestTechGuys. We’re on LinkedIn. You can go to restauranttechnologyguys.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter. It’s one email, every single month, one email, that’s it, guys. It’s the easiest way to stay on top of what we’re doing. It gives you all the podcast updates, all the blog updates, because, Jeremy, we talk about the podcasts a lot, but our blog pumps some really, really good content out there, that’s extremely helpful for our viewers.
Jeremy Julian: Yeah, for restaurateurs that are out there. There’s tons of content that you can use out there, to continue to grow your business. And so, my hope is that you’re utilizing the tools that we’re putting out there, the blog, the podcast, speaking engagements that we have. So, yeah. Hit us up, because we do this for our audience.
Jeremy Julian: We don’t do it because Ryan and I. He really gets tired of talking to me around the office all the time. And so, the fact that we force him to come into a room, and sit 10 feet across from me, and talk for an hour, is really, really painful for him every week.
Ryan Williams: Only when the coffee runs out.
Jeremy Julian: Only when the coffee runs out. And so, obviously, somewhat kidding, we love doing this. We love the opportunity to talk to our audience. And so, give us more content out there that we can talk about. What are the things that keep you up at night that we can share with you?
Ryan Williams: Absolutely, Jeremy. Like i said, I’m now dreaming about this stuff. So, guys, help make my dreams come true, and just shoot us out a note. We love hearing about it. And honestly, you guys are the ones that are driving the content. So, let us know.
Ryan Williams: While you’re online, and you’re reaching out to us, letting us know what you wanna hear about, also, give us a rating on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Overcast.fm. Whatever your favorite podcast platform is, give us a rating. That way we can share our message with even more restaurant operators, and aspiring restaurateurs.
Ryan Williams: Jeremy, I think we did a great job of kinda updating our audience on where we’re at with the whole 15 dollars an hour, where the industry’s gone, what we’re seeing, what the biggest brands are out there doing. So, thank you for your time. Do you have anything else you’d like to add before we go?
Jeremy Julian: No. I appreciate everybody listening. I appreciate the feedback. And, we’ll continue to come back to the plate, and deliver more content to you guys. If you do see us out there on the socials, and out at events, please, please, please, feel free, don’t feel awkward. We might sound a little awkward on the podcast, but we love to hear from you guys. We love to hear what’s resinating, what’s helping your business get better.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. We’re actually kinda cool to hang out with, I think, at least I am. I don’t know how you feel. You don’t agree?
Jeremy Julian: Just as long as Ryan’s had his Starbucks, he is great to hang out with.
Ryan Williams: Yeah. There we go. There we go.
Jeremy Julian: He is great to hang out with.
Ryan Williams: So, anyway, guys, if you see us out there, just say, hey.
Ryan Williams: So, Jeremy, thank you for your time. I know it’s very valuable, and important, and to our listeners, even more valuable, yet. Thank you so much for your time, and go out there, and make it a great day.
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