How technology is making fast food even faster

picture of burger, fries and large soft drink

Contributed to by Kim Evans

Just think about it – at one time the concept of fast food dining was considered a breakthrough in the restaurant industry. Placing an order for hot food that was ready to eat in a very short matter of time was an exciting wave of the future. Fast-forward decades later to the Age of Information. The explosion of mobile technology and smart phones is reshaping the way fast food restaurants serve customers. In turn, customers are also changing the way they do business with fast food restaurants.

Below are some of the latest technological advances to hit the fast food restaurant industry. Mind you, most of these advances are not engineered to replace restaurant employees, but rather assist them with their work and help establishments please, and meet the demands of, their customers.

Customers love their mobile devices.

The first tech trend belongs to the consumers of fast food: the customers. As more and more people depend on the convenience of interacting with the world through a smart phone, restaurant owners are taking notice. Many are testing mobile applications that allow customers to place food orders on a computer or mobile device and pay for it with a credit card.

This system is growing in popularity and customers enjoy being able to peruse a restaurant's menu at their own pace and process their transaction while on the go. In some cases a customer can arrive at a fast food restaurant where a prepaid order is ready for pickup. This recent technology has caught the attention of many consumers to the point that they can begin to distinguish between restaurants that offer this option and those that don't, and develop preferences for where they acquire fast food.

Workers receive "assistants."

The latest technology is also making life a little easier for the men and women who work behind the counter at fast food restaurants, while helping to improve the quality of the food being made. Cooks have access to tools that help them monitor the progress of meals. This includes lighting systems that provide a visual point of reference for how much time remains for a certain dish. Technology also helps ensure that perishable food is maintained at safe temperatures and workers are alerted when food is approaching its expiration date. Additionally, inventory tracking software assists food workers by automatically placing an order to replenish low food supplies when it detects the inventory has dropped below a certain level.

Management gets automated help, too.

And finally, fast food general managers and shift managers have been given a helping hand through new software that can track a number of metrics. For example, from a human resources standpoint, managers can count on systems to create work schedules, track employee hours, and oversee compensation delivery. Franchise owners can also access volumes of data to identify consumer trends and the performance of a restaurant so they can make informed decisions about the direction of the business.

Seeing as how fast food restaurants were created to expedite the delivery of food to customers in a hurry, it seems fitting that technology has stepped forward to make that service even speedier. Fortunately, many of today's younger restaurant workers are already in tune with recent technological tools and, therefore, are well equipped to learn and use the latest technology that has entered fast food restaurants.

How do you feel about the rise in technology in the fast food industry? Do you think it's a step in the right direction? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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