Jeremy Julian

The Restaurant Technology Guys Podcast Ep. 048: A Deep Dive Into Kiosks, Pt. 1

July 2, 2018

Join Jeremy and Ryan as they look deeper into one of the hottest trends in restaurant technology right now: kiosks. What are they? Where did they come from? Why should you care? …are all questions they answer, and more, on this podcast! Check it out.

Episode 48 Transcript

Ryan:                     All right guys, welcome back to the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast. I’m Ryan Williams, and I’m joined today, as always, by my colleague and friend … and cousin, for that matter … Jeremy Julian. Jeremy, what is going on today?

Jeremy:                Not too much. Good morning, Mr. Williams.

Ryan:                     Good morning, good morning. I don’t know if actually the listeners out there know that we’re related. I may have just pulled back the curtain on them.

Jeremy:                Oh, well there’s a few that probably know out there. But for those that didn’t know, Ryan and I are cousins. His mother and my father are related. And thus, we are cousins.

Ryan:                     Yeah, that’s how it works out.

Jeremy:                But really only have gotten to now Ryan as an adult.

Ryan:                     That’s true.

Jeremy:                We didn’t grow up … He grew up out in Kentucky, as some of those long time listeners might know. He grew up in Kentucky and I grew up in California.

Ryan:                     Yeah, it’s been a culture shock for me coming out here, but it has been great getting to know my family that I never got to know growing up.

So Jeremy, I’ll let you know that I bet our listeners are going to love learning about something that they may not know about, or they may be wondering about. And that is kiosks. I’ll tell you, I have had guys … to our listeners out there … First off, this topic comes from a suggestion that we had come to us from our listeners. So thank you very much. Honestly, we do take your feedback seriously. We want to incorporate your ideas. We want to incorporate what you guys need and want into our topic. So much like this topic, thank you so much.

But Jeremy, we’ve been having crazy conversations the last, I don’t know, three/four months.

Jeremy:                Yeah, at least. It seems like every conversation we have has something to do with kiosks and/or digital ordering with clients. It’s been an interesting deal. I’m not 100% sure why. But you and I were talking as we were planning for the topics for toady about just the conversations we had at a most recent trade show or the dialog that I’m having with clients as we’re out meeting with them. And almost everybody is talking about it in some way, shape, or form.

Ryan:                     Yeah, I probably talk to no less than 250 people. And honest to God, no less than probably 75% of those conversations at least had to do something with kiosks. And it may not have been, “Hey, how do I implement kiosks into my restaurant?” But it’s, “How are kiosks being implemented into restaurants today to help increase business efficiency, help decrease labor costs?”, all the things we’re going to talk about today. People are curious about knowing more about it. It may not fit their brand, or it may not fit exactly into what they’re doing today. But as technology evolves, you know, people were saying that kiosks didn’t fit there brand three years ago, and those same people you see either press releases coming out or we’re having conversations with them now to say, “Oh, you know what, we might have been wrong. How do we actually get those kiosks in?” Because the idea and adoption of kiosks have changed.

Jeremy:                Well, and I think not a whole lot different than Starbucks really set the precedent 10/15 years ago with gift cards. And nobody was really talking about gift cards until a major brand kind of made huge waves with what was happening. I think we’re seeing a lot of the really large brands. We’ve talked about Panera 2.0 a multitude of times. But I think not just Panera, but lots of other people that are big brands are putting it out into the press every day. You can’t walk into a quick service restaurant chain across the board that isn’t testing kiosks in some way, shape, or form. From McDonalds, to Burger King, to Jack in the Box, to Chipotle, to Panera; any and all of those counter service places either are testing it or are in the middle of rolling it out. All of the … Taco Bell, Arby’s, all of them have something related to kiosks going on.

And so I think people that are smaller restaurant brands and/or even the largest of the large that haven’t gotten on that trend, I think some of these really large brands are setting the trend. And it’s creating this dialog with executives, investors, board members, different people saying, “What is your strategy for kiosks?” And so since we live in the technology world for the most part, what happens is a CEO comes and throws a deck down or an article down on Director of IT’s desk that says, “McDonalds rolls out 8,000 kiosks nationwide.” And it turns into their number one project that day.

And so I think that’s where some of it’s coming from, where some of that dialog. But to Ryan’s point earlier, there’s very few conversations that go by, including up and to casual dining and places that you traditionally wouldn’t see kiosks. You understand it in the quick service realm and in the counter service realm, but even people talking about it in casual dining … lots and lots of people are talking about it. Whether people are in their infancy or they’re really mature with the process, there’s a lot of people talking about it.

Ryan:                     Yeah, it’s popping up everywhere. And that’s kind of what I was alluding to, is some of the evolution of this technology and the adoption and the creativity this technology’s taking is you’re finding it in more and more applications of not just the fast food setup. It’s finding its way into other setups. We’ll kind of talk more about that as we go.

But Jeremy, I think for our listeners who are out there and they’re like, “Oh, this is cool. But let’s pump the brakes a little bit.” Let’s talk about what is a kiosk. What would you define as a kiosk?

Jeremy:                Well, I think I takes different forms depending upon what it is that you’re doing. And I think again, back to the precedent and who it is that creates some of these rules behind kiosks. But really to me, a kiosk is any form of digital ordering that is in a place where guests can interact directly with technology to get something. You know, at the airport it means your boarding pass, your ATM when you’re going out and getting cash out or depositing checks, is a kiosk. You can call it whatever you want. You call it an ATM, Automatic Teller Machine, but the truth is is it is a kiosk. To kiosks at the grocery store, to kiosks at Home Depot where I am using a piece of technology to get what I want.

And so train stations have got kiosks. They’re kind of ubiquitous, and they continue to show up everywhere. But it doesn’t have to take the form of this big box that’s sitting with a printer and a card reader and all these kind of things. Because again, re-imagining what a kiosk is, it’s any form of digital interaction where you’re interacting to get something. It could be getting a newsletter, it could be getting tickets to a concert, it could be getting food, it could be getting a drink, or it could be getting a waiter to just show up to your table. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be this full blown ordering process where you go soup to nuts.

And so I would define kiosk as really just anything that the guest is using a piece of technology to go get what they want, that is owned or the asset is managed and owned by the proprietor.

Ryan:                     I would even take it a step … personally, I would say it’s a tool that assists the guest in getting what they want. Because it may not deliver. Just like you said, it might just be calling a server over, and that might be that piece of technology. So it may not be doing the full ordering. It doesn’t have to be … people think of kiosks, they think of banks. They think of full banks of kiosks like in airports, 50 kiosk machines. Or you go into McDonalds and it’s this giant screen with like flashy graphics and a huge footprint. It doesn’t have to be that. It could be something as small as an iPad mini sitting at the table just flipping digital signage saying, “Order now, order now, order now.” It could be something as simple as that.

I saw an interesting application of what would be considered a kiosk recently where they actually had iPads in their menu. And so the iPad … it was a traditional menu, looked like a hardback menu that they had to the guest. And you open it up and there was actually an iPad in there that had a digital menu and you could actually order from a limited menu right from that iPad. It was actually kind of a very … really cool, real slick. It was a higher end establishment.

Jeremy:                I’m sure it was Vegas.

Ryan:                     I think it was Vegas, actually, now that you say that. But it was a higher end establishment, and so it fit the branding still because you still had that luxurious, the big menu.

Jeremy:                Leather bound menu.

Ryan:                     Exactly.

Jeremy:                That got delivered to you.

Ryan:                     And it also fit the bill because often times in those environments lighting is an issue. And so for people, older guest or whatever they can’t see the menu, it was perfect because they could just make it brighter or make it not as bright. But it’s super … and that’s a kiosk.

Jeremy:                And again, that’s just one form of kiosk. And so we wanted to talk about defining what we would consider kiosk. If you’ve been out to casual dining any of the places like Red Robin or Chili’s or Outback Steakhouse, many of them have adopted the Ziosk model. That’s a little seven inch tablet that allows you to reorder drinks and to pay for your bill. That’s a kiosk application. Again, it doesn’t allow you to do the full ordering process. It allows you to notify the server that you need something. But there’s pieces that are as small as that, all the way up to something that goes soup to nuts all the way through the ordering process, the payment process, the guest survey after the process. And so across the board there’s a multitude of different things that you can do.

And so we want our listeners to think about the different ways that they can solve for some of those pain points, understanding that you don’t have to do all of it day one. You can start small, and solve … to Ryan’s point … just a digital menu that allows you to order in this fine dining establishments is something that is what I would consider a kiosk. It’s not McDonalds 32 inch big iron printer, all installed, fixed position. This was a mobile application that we would consider a kiosk. All the way through to we were in Vegas recently and they’ve got these digital boards that are kiosks that tell you how to get around the casinos. And they’re 60 inches wide, and they’re these big behemoth deals. But those are a kiosk too. But they’re solving that client’s problem.

Ryan:                     Yeah, and you know Jeremy so we’ve been alluding to McDonalds and that kind of thing. What would you say the role of McDonalds, specifically, has played in the adoption of these digital assets to help guide the guest through their need?

Jeremy:                I would start by saying McDonalds, I believe, they’re either number two or number three in the United States as far as number of total restaurants. And they’re in the top five as far as total overall volume, as far as restaurants in the United States. And so they often times are a trend setting for many things that happen within this restaurant industry. They did tons and tons of technology for whether it’s food processing or supply chain management. And they’re doing something very similar, where they’re getting to kiosks. I don’t dine very often at McDonalds. But when I do, the guest experience is changing. And I’ve had commentary from people who do dine there more often, that they’re … I don’t want to say forced, but ostensibly forced to go to the kiosk to order things. And the staff is trained to teach you how to do that. And in the beginning, they start to show you how to walk through that.

But McDonalds being such a large brand, and having enormous, enormous, enormous traffic that go through there, I think they’re setting the expectation for the guest that says, “In quick service, you’re going to need to understand that this is going to be part of the experience.” And so it’s becoming more and more readily acceptable. Panera did Panera 2.0, but they always had the option of kiosk, mobile, order ahead, counter. And you could do any one of those different things. They didn’t force the issue. And I think McDonalds taking a hard stance that says, “This is what we’re going to force,” is now resetting the guest expectations.

I’m old enough to remember the days when you walked into the airport and you talked to somebody 100% of the time. Now I would venture to guess maybe 20% of of the time, maybe 15% of the time … besides the TSA agents … I don’t have to speak to anybody. I got a mobile boarding pass. I walk through TSA. I walk to the gate. All of it’s done without having to interact with somebody. Whereas back when I was younger, you would have to go to the counter, you’d have to get a paper ticket, and that was the way that it was. And I remember the first flight I ever took happened to be with Ryan and my grandmother, that we had to go deal with this kiosk thing. There was some four letter words that were getting thrown out of, “Why do I have to use this stupid computer in order to get my airline ticket?” But now, I’ve flown with her since and you know what? She just realizes this is part of the process.

And so across the board, I think McDonalds being such a large brand, setting this expectation. I mean, even Starbucks is doing it. Not only are they doing it on their mobile, but they now have kiosks in some of their stores that they’re testing. And so they’re a huge brand. The number one, as far as number of restaurants brand in the country, is Subway. And they too are testing kiosks into some of their stores. So across the board, I think as these larger brands start to force the issue, it becomes much more ubiquitous that all consumers are going to adopt that because they don’t have much of a choice.

Ryan:                     Yeah, and you know Jeremy, we were talking too about obviously McDonalds. I have ordered from a McDonalds kiosk recently. And so it is those large scale things. But you know, even you mentioned Ziosk. There’s a group out here, Stacked Restaurant Group. They were kind of the pioneers. We saw Stacked coming around-

Jeremy:                Seven years ago.

Ryan:                     Yeah, right as the iPad come out they were opening up their first store. And they, guys, they … very interesting concept. If you ever find yourself … if you’re in Southern California, if you live in Southern California, or if you are traveling out in Southern California, check out a Stacked Restaurant. Stacked Restaurant: Food Built Well. Really interesting concept. Kind of fully technology driven. It’s super interesting. They have huge stores, for the most part. I mean a couple hundred seats in there, all driven through iPad ordering at the table.

Jeremy:                And they have a kiosk out front, so if you’re waiting in line to get your table you can pre-order. So they have a kiosk there. You want to order takeout you can do that from a kiosk, a traditional kiosk, a fixed position kiosk. But to Ryan’s point, they also put iPads at every table.

Ryan:                     But it’s interesting because you walk in and you see this popping restaurant. I mean during the restaurant hours they’re really busy. And breakfast hours too, for that matter. But they’re pretty consistently busy throughout the day, but they only staff a small handful of servers. Most of their people are in the back cooking, bartenders, or just two or three food runners, really. It’s a very interesting thing. Kind of almost eerie thing to see, because you’re used to seeing one or two servers per every handful of tables. But that’s not the case at Stacked. And they were able to actually leverage technology to keep their labor costing really, really low.

Jeremy:                Yeah, no for sure. And I think across the board, if you were to look at the adoption curve, they were on the very, very forefront. And even as we were preparing, there’s times that in high school … the Taco Bell corporate office headquarters happened to be in Irvine. They’ve moved locations in Irvine. But it’s been in Irvine for a number of years. And so I grew up in Tustin, in Southern California, and one of test stores. I happened to be talking to the CIO of Taco Bell most recently at the same trade show Ryan alluded to. And we were talking about me going in in high school, in the mid 90s, and them putting in kiosks into the test store that was just up the road from my house. And the test would be there for two months or three months, and then they’d pull it out because either guest adoption wasn’t there, it wasn’t giving them the efficiencies that they’ve looked for.

But across the board, I think that the more and more technology continues to meld, and the more of customer acceptance is getting there, it definitely is. And so I find Stacked to be on that early adoption curve. If you think about an adoption curve being really, really small and then starting to hit its stride, I feel like we’re in kind of that middle stride where you’re going to see kiosks almost everywhere in the next five years. Where it will be a disadvantage to your brand and to your restaurant group if you don’t have some form of digital ordering and digital communication happening with your guests.

Ryan:                     Yeah, I mean the testament to that is just how many people are out there. And I can tell you that the people at this conference were not small operators. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being a small operator, but like Jeremy was saying earlier, the big brands typically drive the innovation. And then the smaller chains, the ones that maybe don’t have the R&D budget or the tech budget that some of these larger brands do, kind of go and adopt that same technology that these guys are. And every single one of them represented at least 25 locations or more, and they were all talking about kiosks. So you’re going to see them. If they’re not in your area currently, besides the McDonalds and the Taco Bells of the world, you’re going to start seeing them come around very, very soon.

Jeremy:                Absolutely. And I would say the other thing that I’m finding as I’m talking with not just the technology people … many times it comes through technology because that’s where the bulk of our conversations happen. But as I’m talking with finance people, CFOs, CEOs of other brands, they’re the ones driving it saying, “What do you have to offer me?” I happened to be last week at a client who doesn’t have kiosks today. They’re technology stack doesn’t have kiosks. But part of their growth strategy to grow from 50 units to 250 units is to get to kiosks to be able to allow the guest experience to change. And so this was sitting with the CFO and a CEO of our brand. They happened to have their technology people in the room as well. But I as there.

A month ago I was at another brand that was a counter service place, and the CEO said, “Our board is saying we have to have kiosks in the next year. Figure out how to get it to happen.”

Ryan:                     Yeah. Marketing drives a lot of it too. I spoke with a lot of marketing guys. I mean, think about all the branding that you can do. Dynamic branding, videos, you can absolutely crazy.

Jeremy:                Up sells, customer experience, yeah there’s quite a bit.

Ryan:                     Quite a bit of … What other kinds of benefits? So I think this is a good transition, Jeremy, to say why would someone consider … what are the benefits? What are the pitfalls? Why would someone want to put kiosks into their restaurants?

Jeremy:                I think that people’s motivation is one of two. The first motivation is completely financial, and then the second one relates to the guest experience and building that brand to your point. So let’s dig first into the financial side, and what people are saying about the finances, and then we’ll talk a little bit about the secondary side.

I think the financial side is is they realize that the technology has become inexpensive enough that the expense of the technology to integrate it to their point of sale, to their platform, to their online ordering platform, has become inexpensive enough that putting it out into the field and utilizing it has a potential with the looming $15 an hour labor rate changes, with the difficulty in getting young staff members to come in, difficulty in hiring, difficulty in continuing to find people and keep people on, that they can use digital ordering to augment staff in a way that if you don’t have staffing … And we’ve talked in the past.

Most recently I was talking with the people at HotSchedules. They have restaurants that have to close their doors because they can’t find staffing. They can’t find low enough wage earns to be able to run their restaurant and make money in their slow times. And so they’re just closing on Mondays and Tuesdays, because it just doesn’t make sense to open. They don’t have enough revenue to cover the cost. And so that’s one option, that they can stay open, reduce that overhead, reduce that labor cost. If they’re having trouble finding staff, if they’re having trouble training staff, if they’re having trouble retaining staff they will use technology.

Pursuant to that, what other people are looking at is typically you might … and this has been a story that we’ve been telling, is as you look at a restaurant, they’re peek hours may be from 11:30 til 1:00. Okay? So they’re going to hit the lunch hour. And then from 6:00 to 9:00 they’re busy. Okay? But what do you do in those hours that aren’t there and you’ve got people coming in? Many times as a diner, your worst experiences come into those times when they’re not staffed appropriately. And so when they’re not staff appropriately, you have a bad guest experience. And so how do you use technology to augment that, when you know that you shouldn’t have staff on because you’re not busy enough to have them there and have four cashiers there. Maybe you have one cashier, and you turn those POS units into a kiosk to allow that frequent guest to be able to use the kiosk to order for themselves, when it might be a slow time and you’re not staffed for these odd hour times.

And so those are the financial asks that I’m hearing from people, is they’re seeing this looming $15 an hour federal minimum wage and saying, “You know what, how do we keep our brand going by utilizing technology to augment that?”

Ryan:                     Yeah, you know Jeremy the other thing … and this kind of bridges that gap between the brand experience and the financial aspect of it too … but one of the things that people who have implemented kiosks are finding, is kind of the defect error has gone way down.

Jeremy:                Absolutely.

Ryan:                     So the defect error being just order errors, the orders getting fat fingered into the point of sale system wrong, on the staff side and the food comes out and the person’s like, “This isn’t what I ordered. I’m not happy. I’m going to send the food back.” That’s wasted food costs. You have another … so you throw that away. The food that replaces it is not paid for, right?

Jeremy:                Mm-hmm (affirmative)..

Ryan:                     So you’re already operating … most restaurants are operating on a not very great margin-

Jeremy:                Margin, yeah.

Ryan:                     … anyway. So you’re cutting even deeper into that margin. Sometimes you’re going negative into that.

Now with the kiosks, when I have the conversation with people, with operators, I say that it’s one of two things. First, at least in our NorthStar product … and our NorthStar product does have a kiosk function … we kind of give a recap screen where it’s like, “All right, you got a burger. It’s coming with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and no mayo.” And you have to sign off on that. Yes, that’s right. If there’s an error in there, you go fix it at that point. So you have to recap it. And then after that, there’s kind of the my bad, the personal I made that error. It wasn’t someone else’s error. I’m going to power through this burger with mustard on it, even though I didn’t want mustard on it. I accidentally signed off on mustard on it. And I don’t want to send it back, because it was my bad.

Jeremy:                Yep.

Ryan:                     It’s the embarrassment factor, I think.

Jeremy:                And it’s the ownership. You take ownership for your own experience.

Ryan:                     Exactly. Exactly. And so think about all the … I mean, look at your food costs, guys. What’s coming back? Hopefully it’s not that much. But implementing some kind of digital order taking system does take the human element out of it. At least the … you think of the order process, there’s two human elements. There’s communicating it to the server. They have to receive it, and then they have to put it into the point of sale system. So there’s really three points of error that could go wrong. Really, you’re eliminating two of those points.

Jeremy:                Absolutely.

Ryan:                     It’s the guest putting it directly into the point of sale, more or less.

Jeremy:                Yeah, well and one of the other things on the financial side, back to end branding, is the ability to upsell. I know when I worked in restaurants back in high school and college we were constantly being told, “Go, sell the extra ice cream sundae.” The high margin items that you don’t get as many incidents of. But now with kiosks you digitally can do that. And now it’s not this well let me train this server that’s been on the staff for three weeks to go upsell the banana split. Well now the system is selling the banana split for those people. And so we are finding in the evidence and in the data, that more people are ordering different things. And so they are adding to their order. So the order incidents and the total quantity of food that they’re getting, because they’re not having to have the shame factor of me telling somebody, “Give me a banana split.” They’re telling the computer to give me a banana split and then the food just shows up.

Ryan:                     Yeah, and computers never forget to ask.

Jeremy:                Yep, exactly.

Ryan:                     And the computers never get embarrassed. The computers, they’re never shy. They just behave-

Jeremy:                And they don’t have a bad day.

Ryan:                     They don’t have a bad day. They’re not going to freak out and throw food at people.

Jeremy:                We’ve all seen those videos on YouTube.

Ryan:                     Yeah, on YouTube. Yeah, definitely hasn’t ever happened to me. Nor have I ever been the person throwing food on people.

Jeremy:                If anybody’s ever gets the chance to find Ryan at a trade show somewhere, you should ask him about his experience that he shared last year in Houston of one of his dates and his food experience at a popular brand.

Ryan:                     Oh yeah.

Jeremy:                It is something that you got to give him at least 10 or 15 minutes to tell the story, but it is quite hilarious. So if you get a chance, remember-

Ryan:                     A computer would never-

Jeremy:                Reach out to him and he’ll … yeah, the computer wouldn’t have done that.

Ryan:                     Never would have done that.

Jeremy:                But the story is quite worth the time that it’s going to take for him to tell it.

Ryan:                     You can hit us up on Twitter at @restechguys. You can email us, go to and I will personally call you and tell you the story.

Jeremy:                It is quite funny.

Ryan:                     Yeah, it’s a good one. It’s actually more one of those jaw droppers, like really?

Jeremy:                Really, this happened in the restaurant industry?

Ryan:                     But crazy things happen, and computers don’t often do that. They may shut down once in a while. You may have to reboot them. But hey, you don’t have to pay employment taxes. You don’t have to pay insurance on them. You don’t have to do a lot of the costs that are associated with carrying employees.

Jeremy:                Absolutely.

Ryan:                     So those are all great, great reasons. The other thing is they’re a fixed costs.

Jeremy:                Yep. They can be amortized over time.

Ryan:                     You can depreciate them.

Jeremy:                Yeah, there’s no rehiring new people as people are quitting. And they’re there and they work. I mean, they do require some level of maintenance. But they’re not nearly as fickle as employees that get too intoxicated and then can’t show up for work and call out sick.

Ryan:                     They’re not going to unionize on you. I mean, there’s a huge employment element that goes into it that takes the human aspect out of it.

But Jeremy, we talked about the financial. Now let’s talk about the brand aspect. I mean, there’s plenty to be said for what it can do to create a certain experience.

Jeremy:                Yeah, and I think you’ve alluded to it in the Stacked environment, just a little bit ago, where their brand experience is defined by how you interact with this technology and is a big part of what they do. I think all of us have experienced some form of a brand that does it really well. And then there’s some brands that miss the mark as it relates to that. But I think done properly, and allowing the guest to control their own experience, allowing the guest to own what they’re ordering, to customize the order to make it look and feel …

You know, one of our clients has this phrase that he uses when we were talking about kiosks. He’s like, “Create the crave-ability factor.” We all know, or we’ve all read the studies that you look at menus and the most highest margins items they show pictured. They create this crave-ability factor that says, “I came in for a salad, but dang does that ribeye steak that’s got some bleu cheese butter on top of it look so damn good. I’m going to order that.” Because there’s this crave-ability factor. And so with kiosks you can create that, but you allow the guest to manage that experience.

The second thing is, is as the demographics are trending younger, everybody that’s coming into your restaurant nowadays has touched a touchscreen. Somewhere in their environment has. And so the younger the guests are, they want to be able to control their own experience. They control their own experience as it relates to Netflix, as it relates to Amazon, as it relates to Google. They’re controlling their experience, and so they want to be able to control that same restaurant experience. And so how do you allow those guests that are 15 to 25 to be able to control that guest experience, to be able to … Because they grew up with a touchscreen in their pocket, for the most part.

And so my kids go into Stacked, my two year old daughter grabs the iPad and rings up her food. So cross the board, these guests that are coming in that are going to be the people that are spending money, want to be able to control that guest experience. And so how do you give them control? How do you give them the opportunity to own what they’re ordering.

Ryan:                     And it not only gives them ownership, but you’re creating a consistent brand experience every single time, by employing a digital strategy as opposed to maybe a server having a bad day or whatever the case might be. You’re insuring that every single time that guest is interacting with your brand, it’s the same experience every single time. It doesn’t matter if … it doesn’t judge. There’s no judgment. There’s no discrimination. There’s no inflection in voice to [crosstalk 00:31:38] tick a customer off. It’s strictly just a digital interface that you can put all of your branding behind.

Like I said before, you can put videos in there. Jeremy said you can create that crave-ability factor. I mean, we have a cool function on the NorthStar product where you can actually build your items and you can see it being built on the screen. And so people start adding stuff on there. We’ve seen it happen. People start adding on components or different items onto that burger or pizza or whatever it is, and it’s just so fun to watch it build up that you don’t realize $4 later you have a $25 burger sitting in front of you.

Jeremy:                Absolutely. But it does create this capability to allow exactly that. And if it’s done in the proper way digitally, it does it for you. And so I love that factor to allow those guests to be able to do that.

Ryan:                     Yeah, and you know another thing, Jeremy, is it actually … So you think about the whole ordering process, right? Part of the time, a lot of the time really, is that payment aspect takes forever.

Jeremy:                Yes, it does.

Ryan:                     And if you … like let’s say you’re running late for a movie and-

Jeremy:                Or you have four kids and you’re-

Ryan:                     Or you got four kids.

Jeremy:                … and your two year old wants to get out.

Ryan:                     Yeah, I can’t imagine the nightmare that that is. I’ll go to what I know. But if you’re running late for a movie, right, and you’ve got ten minutes to make it to a movie and you look around and you don’t see your waiter anywhere, that can be a detriment to the brand experience.

Jeremy:                Absolutely.

Ryan:                     And it can also decrease the number of table turns, because then I’m sitting there for the next ten minutes not ordering food, I’m not doing anything of any kind of revenue generating benefit to your business, I’m just taking up space. And so by implementing kiosks, be it at the table or maybe creating pre-orders in the lobby, maybe even doing the whole order like in the McDonalds style where you do the order, pay, and then you go pick your food up, payments already done. So when I’m done or when I’m ready to pay, think about that Ziosk model, if I’m ready to pay, swipe my card, get up, and leave.

Jeremy:                Well, and I was in New York earlier this year, and apparently it’s very common in Japan at ramen places where you’ll go order at a kiosk, pay at the kiosk … and I went into one of these ramen places that had implement this, and it’s kind of like McDonalds but they’ve got table service after you sit down. And so you go to a kiosk, you order, then they give you a table tent. And essentially they bring your food. But then they serve you the rest of the time. Hey, you want another beer? You want a soda? You want a second helping? They’ll do that at the table, but your initial experience happens at a kiosk up front.

And so again, I think that as things change and as technology becomes more ubiquitous, it will become something that definitively will be able to change the guest experience. But to Ryan’s point, nothing will ruin a meal more than the very start being terrible, you know, at your host stand, or at the end when you can’t find your server and you’re really stressed about trying to get out. You can have the most amazing meal, but then you missed on that last piece. And that’s how technology can augment that to help people be able to have the guest experience that they’re looking to, from a brand perspective.

Ryan:                     Yeah, and you know that’s not to say you’re kicking people out. It’s just allowing the guest to have exactly that experience that they want.

Jeremy:                And their control, the control that they’re looking for.

Ryan:                     Yeah. And so Jeremy, we’ve talked a lot about the benefits and everything. And I know that we like to keep these podcasts around the 45 minute mark. So guys, we are going to have a part two to this. So if you’re listening and you’re like, “Man, they’ve made some good points. We want to at least hear how to get the ball rolling on implementing kiosks.”, there’s going to be a part two coming up. We’ll try our best to make it the next podcast that comes out.

But, keep an eye out for that because there are some things to consider. Kiosks may not necessarily fit your brand the best.

Jeremy:                Or you’re going to have to change your operation a little bit. And so we’ll talk a little bit about the different things that you need to consider before, “Hey, this is a great idea. Let me go tell my boss. This is what I want to do.” And now before you go do that, let us give you the roadmap as to what things you should consider. And so that will be kind of part of our next recording.

Ryan:                     Yeah, so guys thanks for listening to us. I mean, kiosks, like we said at the beginning, we’ve been having conversations with just about everybody whether the kiosk or some other digital transaction aid fits the brand, whether it doesn’t fit the brand today. Everyone’s talking about it. And so we just want to be here to help educate you guys on what people are talking about, what the conversations are that are happening out in the restaurant ecosystem, and bring it to you guys and have that conversation with us.

But it is a conversation. So we’d love some feedback. We’d love to know what you think about kiosks.

Jeremy:                If you’ve already implemented kiosks, share it with us. We’ll do a shout out on the next podcast as to your brand and something that you guys have done that you think is unique, so that we can drive some traffic your way.

Ryan:                     Have you put them in and pulled them out because they failed? I mean, we’d love to hear about that too, because it’s a test, right? Everything in business is an education guess, check, and repeat.

Jeremy:                Yep. Yeah, no, we’ve seen successes and we’ve seen failures. And so give us some feedback.

Ryan:                     Absolutely. If you guys have other ideas for podcast topics, if there’s things you’re curious about, if there’s things that you’re seeing in the news, we’d love to share that news. We’d love to learn more. We don’t know what we don’t know. So go to our website, Reach out to us. We’re super accessible. We’re not like sending an email to a black hole. We’ll get back to you. We’re just people on the other side of a microphone. So if there’s something out there that’s cool, you’re like, “I don’t know what this is about. Hey, Ryan. Hey, Jeremy. Give us an idea about what this means.” We’ll gladly field those questions.

And while you’re on our website, while you’re out there surfing the web, sign up for our newsletter. It’s right over on the right hand side of our website at It’s the easiest way to stay on top of what we’re doing, where we’re going to be. We’ve got a bunch of trade shows coming up this year, and we’d love to see you there. So sign up for our newsletters. It’s super easy, and it’s one email a month. We’re not going to email you to death.

Also while you’re out there, guys, if you would please give us a review on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, whatever your favorite platform is that you’re listening to the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast today. That way we can help share the message with even more people. It helps our ranking and all that good stuff. And honestly, we’re here to help you guys. And we just want to share the message with as many people as we can.

So invite your friends. Give us a rating. And go sign up for our newsletter. Jeremy, do you have anything else you’d like to add before we let our listeners go?

Jeremy:                Just thank you to the audience for listening. Thank you for the feedback. Thank you for the continued dialog that you guys continue to put in front of us. We love it. We love the feedback, so keep it coming.

Ryan:                     Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, we’ve gotten … this was a topic that came from a suggestion. We’ve had other suggestions out there, and those are coming guys. So your voices have been heard. So our listeners, thank you so much for your time. Jeremy, thank you for yours. And go out there and make it a great day.


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