July 17, 2024


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How Wendy’s franchisees combat understaffing using conversational AI

3 min read
How Wendy’s franchisees combat understaffing using conversational AI

Speed is everything in high-volume recruiting – particularly in the retail and fast-food industry, where stores are almost always hiring and competition is fierce. The first employer to respond with an interview and offer almost always snags the best people. 

This has always been true, but it’s been especially acute in today’s tight labour market. 

Thankfully, many Wendy’s franchisees had a secret weapon: An AI assistant named Lou, powered by Paradox. 

What makes Lou special? For Colleen Alleman, a GM for Haza Foods, which operates 250 Wendy’s locations across Texas, Louisiana, and Minnesota, it’s simple: Lou makes applying to a job at Wendy’s as simple as having a quick text message conversation. And he reduces the hiring burden on restaurant managers by automatically screening and scheduling the very best candidates for interviews. 

Using a virtual assistant to quickly respond to the best talent first

With more than five years of hiring experience, James Harris, a field support manager at Group W AKSAN, which operates 26 restaurants, understands the frustrations of restaurant hiring. “Most people aren’t going to wait for days to hear back from a restaurant,” Harris explains. “They’re going to apply to multiple locations and start with whoever contacts them first.” For Harris and his team, speed is always the main ingredient to hiring the best people before they go somewhere else. 

Enter Lou.  

Lou gives Group W’s restaurant managers the power to hire over text – and do it immediately after someone applies. He automatically schedules qualified candidates for interviews – eliminating the candidates’ wait and often scheduling an interview the very next day.  

“Before Lou, we were understaffed at many locations,” Harris says. “Lou allows us to get to the candidate first, giving us the top choice of the very best people available. We’re not just improving staffing for all our locations, we’re staffing them with incredible people.​” 

Eliminating phone tag to completely transform candidate communication

Colleen Alleman is in charge of staffing 45 restaurants across Haza Food’s New Orleans division. Unsurprisingly, keeping 45 restaurants staffed is no easy undertaking. “The hours and hours I used to spend going through applicants is unbelievable,” Alleman says. 

And then there was the scheduling phone tag: “Not shocking, but 90 per cent of people would never answer their phones. Then we’d have to email or just keep calling them. It was a total pain and slowed the whole process down.”

That’s no longer the case, thanks to Haza Foods’ AI assistant.  

Introducing Lou to Haza Foods’ hiring process has drastically reduced the time Alleman and her managers spend coordinating with candidates. “The burden Lou has eliminated from our manager’s operational – and even personal – time has been amazing,” Alleman says. Like most entry-level positions, Haza Foods struggles with high turnover.

Lou is helping alleviate that issue, too. “We still have turnover,” Alleman says. “But now we have the ability to fill those open spots as soon as they open.” 

Decreasing ghosting by serving candidates a white-glove experience

Competition for talent is fierce. “We are seeing managers schedule candidates for interviews only to have them cancel because they accepted another job,” says Sean Servey, director of new initiatives for Pertoria, Inc’s six Wendy’s locations in Northwest Ohio. “High-volume hiring is still ultra-time-intensive. If you’re not fast to respond, you won’t get the best people.”

And then there’s the burden on Pertoria’s store managers, who used to have to guide candidates throughout the process – playing phone tag to schedule interviews, reminding candidates about their interviews, answering questions throughout the process, and more.

Today, that burden’s been significantly reduced thanks to Lou, Pertoria’s AI assistant. 

Lou can now automatically and immediately screen and schedule qualified applicants, remind candidates of upcoming interviews, and answer questions in real time. Since implementing Lou, Pertoria’s locations are seeing far fewer interview no-shows or cancellations. Servey says nearly 90 per cent of scheduled candidates actually show up.

The post How Wendy’s franchisees combat understaffing using conversational AI appeared first on Inside Retail.

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