Fast casual food is a tall order. It has to be both good and fast.
Burger Boss, a Southern California chain, thinks it’s making progress on both fronts.
On the quality side of the equation, the 4-restaurant chain offers only grass-fed beef and naturally raised proteins, combined with a menu that offers a variety of cheeses, sauces and toppings.
On the speed side, the company has deployed self-serve kiosks that allow customers to get their burgers made to order fast.
Based in Corona, California, Burger Boss recently introduced wall-mounted, self-serve kiosks. There are presently three self-order kiosks per restaurant.
|Mo Farha places an order at Burger Boss.|
Improving the customer experience
“Customer service kiosks have improved the customer experience through three major avenues: accuracy, speed and interactivity,” said company CEO Mo Farha. “While customers can of course place their orders with a standard cashier, our kiosks also decrease line wait for those wishing to place their order as quickly as possible.”
The customer enters their name upon placing their order at the kiosk. The kiosk allows them to visualize how their burgers, lettuce wraps, bowls and fries will look prior to their delivery. It prompts them to select from 35 topping options.
"Our consumers get a kick out of watching their actual burger being built," Farha said. "The fact that customers can physically see each of the ingredients on screen and watch them be added to their burger, fries or other menu item in real time of adding them also offers an interactive element that fits well with today's customers who continue to interact with visuals more than text in many digital channels."
"For example, the proteins, buns, cheeses, sauces and toppings they choose are images of our actual ingredients that are used to construct the burger they are building," Farha said. "The burger being displayed on the kiosk is the actual burger we deliver to the consumer. This required several photo shoots and hundreds hours of software development to ensure the images of our burger ingredients looked real."
The kiosks also ensure greater order accuracy.
Once the order is placed, the customer finds an open table in the dining room if they are dining in. There is also a carry-out waiting area that allows them to watch their burger being built through the open kitchen.
"Our open kitchen is also an opportunity to show off our better ingredients and a clean kitchen," Farha said. "Once the order comes out of the kitchen, our 'runners' then call out the customer's first name and deliver the food to the table."
The kiosk's proprietary software tracks the use of ingredients.
More to come
Looking forward, the software will also suggest new items for customers to order.
"Our next version of our software will also include remembering the consumer’s last order based on their name and/or phone number and will also be integrated with our social media platforms," Farha said. "Consumers will be able to name their burgers and to post their suggested burger on the kiosk for other customers to choose from. We do not have any default burgers on our menu. We offer only custom built burgers. We believe the consumer wants both control and customization."
The kiosks were designed to supplement the cashier's role, not to reduce the role of the cashier, Farha said. Team members assist customers at the kiosk.
There has been no impact on labor savings or reduction of team members since the kiosks have been deployed. The kiosks have reduced the responsibilities of the second cashier which allows this team member to support the customers ordering at the kiosk and/or to check on guests in the dining area.
"A positive guest experience is always a primary goal and the second cashier is now free to further support this initiative," Farha said.
The efficiency has delivered a bump in sales, primarily among customers under 35 who tend to order more premium toppings at the kiosk, which increases the average ticket, Farha said. Kiosk use continues to grow every month as guests become used to them.
Proper placement of kiosks within the restaurant is key to ensure proper optimization, Farha said. "Also, restaurants need to ensure that the software is intuitive for the consumer through improved visual elements and ease of ordering."
Mobile ordering will bring more benefits
The company is also developing online/mobile ordering apps that will integrate with the loyalty program.
Farha does not think the mobile ordering will replace the kiosks.
"We believe they are both important vehicles for the consumer," Farha said. "Both options allow the consumer to place their orders whether on site or remotely."
"In many cases, online/mobile ordering go hand-in-hand with self-order kiosks," said Luke Wilwerding, director of retail solutions at Elo, which created the hardware for Burger Boss’s kiosks. "Restaurants with self-service via online or mobile are extending the experience into the physical stores. A customer who’s used the simplicity offered via online or mobile will often prefer the same autonomous self-serve experience at the restaurant."
"Self-order kiosks are also used to identify when the customers have arrived to pick up their order," Wilwerding said. "On the flip side, kiosks can enable upsell opportunities, brand messaging and digital signage and further drive the adoption of online/mobile ordering."
"We believe that kiosks will definitely become more commonplace in the restaurant industry in the years to come, as more young customers are looking for a quick, customized experience where person-to-person interaction is minimized or optional," Farha said. "Of course, we still believe there will be a need for our in-person staff, and each of our locations employs roughly 30 people. But overall, we believe there will be many more kiosks being rolled out in the QSR and fast-casual space over the next decade."
Elo’s Wilwerding is also optimistic about self-serve kiosks in restaurants, pointing out that establishments of all sizes are investing in the technology.
"Elo is actively working with both multinational organizations in addition to smaller regional players through various channels," Wilwerding said. "We’re seeing opportunities for self-service interaction through larger enclosed touchscreen kiosks, updates to existing point of sale using customer facing displays, or Elo’s unique flip stand that transforms traditional POS into a self-service kiosk."
Farha declined to reveal the cost of the kiosks or how long it takes to recover the investment.
Burger Boss is considering adding more kiosks to restaurants based on business volume.
/ Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.