Drive-through restaurants may have found a high-tech solution to staffing shortages.
Millions of people left low-paying jobs during “The Great Resignation”, especially in the restaurant and service sectors. This has left establishment owners rushing to staff servers, hosts, cooks and more.
Bite Ninja stepped in with a possible solution: a brand new tool that allows anyone in the world to serve as a drive-thru employee. This means that the person taking your order may not be on site at the restaurant…or even as is.
NBC News investigative and mainstream correspondent Vicky Nguyen gave TODAY viewers an exclusive first look at the new technology, which allows employees to work from home. The video software allows restaurants to hire workers from anywhere in the world and then connect them to drive-thru customers.
For a grandmother, using Bite Ninja’s software allows her to work part-time and save money on gas.
“I love work. I enjoy meeting new people every day, social interaction and working from home,” she told TODAY.
Will Clem, owner of a popular restaurant called Baby Jack’s near Memphis, Tennessee, and creator of Bite Ninja, said he developed the program during the pandemic because he had trouble hiring for the service job. driving. One evening, the restaurant was so understaffed that he set up his laptop and took orders from home using Zoom.
“It was really a solution for our restaurant and it helped us so much that we said, ‘Man, we think this is something that’s going to help a lot of restaurant owners nationwide,'” Clem said. Now, Bite Ninja is in use at 12 chain restaurants in six states and is poised to go national with an unnamed “big restaurant brand” that is committed to using the technology. Fifty other channels are also “in talks” to use the program.
Nguyen herself has tried the program, setting up her computer in New York to take orders at Baby Jack. Before settling down as an employee, she had to study the restaurant menu and take an online test. She was also paired with a Bite Ninja trainer.
When it came time to finally start taking orders, Nguyen said she found the job “fun” as she got up to speed. She was able to respond to requests, customize menu items, and place the order in the restaurant’s kitchen, all without leaving her seat.
“Most (customers) had no idea I was over a thousand miles away,” Nguyen said.
When a customer orders through a Bite Ninja employee, the rest of the drive-thru process runs as normal: they stop at the next window to pay and collect their food.
“That’s awesome. The first time I did it, it was very confusing, I guess, like overwhelming because I didn’t expect to see anyone on my screen. I certainly didn’t expect not to see Vicky on my screen,” said one. customer and fan today.
Bite Ninja employees are paid between $10 and $20 an hour, depending on demand, according to the company. Currently, around 4,100 so-called “Ninjas” are using the program to work from home.
Bite Ninja isn’t the only way restaurants are using technology to offset staffing and retention issues, which 50% of restaurateurs said was their top challenge in 2022. Restaurant in Dallas uses robotic servers , and at the Beijing Winter Olympics, TODAY’s Craig Melvin was served a screwdriver by an automated bartender. Meanwhile, Chipotle tests a robotic chipmaker and White Castle uses AI to flip burgers.