Panera Bread franchisees are worried about the company’s new plan to replace cashiers with kiosks.
In a recent poll of around 500 Panera Bread franchise owners (representing 60% of franchisees), Piper Jaffray found that 30% of those surveyed were concerned about paying for the new equipment,
reports Nation’s Restaurant News.
About 40% of those surveyed were on-board with the new system, while 30% said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.
Piper Jaffray analyst Nicole Miller Regan said the “general lack of consensus” could keep Panera Bread from smoothly rolling out the plan, which is meant to address the chain’s slow-service issue.
The fast-casual chain will start adding about eight kiosks per restaurant, writes Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek. Customers will also be able to order by phone.
As a result, there will be one to two fewer cashiers in restaurants in the next year or two.
Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich said that the new system would help accuracy of orders. Customers would also be able to customise their food.
Shaich told Businessweek that it won’t be cutting back on workers. The former cashiers will now carry food to customers’ tables.
“The dirty little secret in the food industry is one in seven orders is wrong,” Shaich told Businessweek. “We’re one in 10, a little better than average. Half of those inaccuracies happen during order input.”
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