'It just makes sense' to use machines instead of employees, Jack in the Box CEO says

If the CEO of Jack in the Box has his way, you could be ordering your next Jumbo Jack from a kiosk.

Business Insider reports that Jack in the Box CEO Leonard Comma said on Tuesday that "it just makes sense" for the fast food chain to consider replacing employees with automated machines, citing the rising cost of labor in California.

Comma made the remarks at ICR Conference, an investment conference currently taking place in Orlando.

 

According to Business Insider, Jack in the Box has experimented with self-ordering kiosks in the past. Comma says the machines lowered costs, but at the time, implementing them at all locations didn't make sense.

However, with many states raising minimum wage, fast food chains worry the cost of labor could prevent them from making low-priced food with high profit margins. California — where Jack in the Box is based — has already raised it's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour for people under 25, and will continue to  steadily raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2023.

Last year, Wendy's announced it would install self-ordering kiosks at 1,000 locations, Months later, McDonald's also announced it was installing self-ordering kiosks at 2,500 locations.

Comma's full comments can be read below.

“When we look at service, it’s impacted by what happens in the back of the house. We tried many things in the back of the house, and also technology in the front, over the last handful of years that just wasn’t the right time to put them in play, mainly because we weren’t seeing the return on that investment.  But as we see the rising costs of labor, we’re seeing that some of the things we tested back in the day may have a home going forward.

“We’ve tested kiosks, and we saw that average check within the kiosk purchases in the dining room were higher and it was a pretty efficient way for us to serve those guests. But, again, at the time the cost benefit – you know, balance – wasn’t there. We’ll take a re-look at that.”

“With the rising cost of labor, it just makes sense that we work hand in hand with our operators to make sure that the four-walls economics still make sense for them over the long term.”

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.

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