At BurgerFi, self-service kiosks mean more checks — and tips

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When BurgerFi began installing self-service kiosks in four of its restaurants in November, it was hoped they would do a number of things: relieve cashiers, increase revenue, improve customer experience.

Six months later, the devices seem to have reached all three and then some. Now Boca Raton, Fla.-based Fast Casual is bringing them to 17 of its 27 company-owned locations and encouraging franchisees to use them too.

After looking at the results, it’s clear why BurgerFi is so excited about the kiosks that combine Samsung hardware with Grubbrr software. Average ticket sizes for orders placed through the devices were 18.5% larger than those at checkout, and they captured an average of 133 orders per day, or about three out of four transactions, according to data provided by the chain.

BurgerFi kiosks

BurgerFi has found that two kiosks plus a checkout or two works best. / Photo courtesy of BurgerFi

That should be welcome news for a brand that’s been struggling to generate sales lately. Same-store sales fell 8% at corporate restaurants and 5% at franchise locations in the fourth quarter, the chain reported, citing Omicron’s January surge.

The new technology could also benefit the bottom line: With kiosks taking on more of the order-taking burden, BurgerFi has moved cashiers to the dining room, where they can refill drinks, promote desserts, and otherwise serve customers. The additional attention contributed to the chain’s highest customer satisfaction scores over the past 12 months, said Chief Technology Officer Karl Goodhew.

“There’s likely to be a tipping point in terms of in-store customer experience and ensuring customers are getting the service they need,” he said.

Order kiosks have been in restaurants for a long time. For example, McDonald’s has gone to great lengths to include them in all of its stores as of 2018. But the technology has been given a fresh boost by the hiring issues that have plagued restaurants in the wake of the pandemic.

Customers seem to like them too. When given the opportunity, diners gravitate to the kiosks, said Sam Zeitz, CEO of Grubbrr, who often visited BurgerFi to observe how people interacted with them. And without the pressure of a long line behind them, they can peruse the menu carefully.

When ordering at the register, “the easiest thing is always to say, ‘I’ll get a cheeseburger, fries, drink, done,'” Goodhew said. “Now you have time to flip through the menu.”

“We call this the levitation effect,” added Zeitz.

BurgerFi kiosk

On average, BurgerFi customers spend 18.5% more when ordering from the kiosk. / Photo courtesy of BurgerFi

The extra browsing hasn’t necessarily prompted kiosk users to order different things, Goodhew said, but they do tend to order more Article. More than half (52%) opted for automated upsells at a kiosk, opting to attach fountain drinks, fries and shakes with a higher clip.

And to Goodhew’s surprise, customers at a kiosk usually tip the same amount as at the checkout.

“The tip percentage was identical to the second decimal place,” confirmed Zeitz – and that with higher checks.

That allayed Goodhew’s fears that the machines would see employees see lower tips and therefore refuse to work with them.

BurgerFi has found that two kiosks work best along with one or two checkouts, with the kiosks positioned on the counter to save space.

“We try to do it in such a way that the customer is greeted with kiosks and a little later they have the opportunity to use POS,” he said.

They are Part of a broader technology push under Goodhew, which also includes server robots and QR code-enabled orders, all designed to alleviate labor shortages.

The CTO joined BurgerFi last May with 124 units, moving from the big-box retail sector, which has had self-order kiosks for years. Restaurants have been slower to catch on, partly due to sticker shock.

“They just assume they can’t afford it,” Zeitz said. However, Grubbr has “democratized” the pricing of the technology, he said: Samsung’s hardware retails at $2,500, and Grubbrr’s software costs about $200 a month.

The design of the hardware itself was a selling point for BurgerFi, Goodhew noted. While most kiosks are cobbled together from various components, the Samsung machines are self-contained. “I don’t have to buy three different pieces,” he said.

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