- Checkers & Rally's will scale Valyant AI's conversational artificial intelligence system, called "Holly," to drive-thrus at franchisee-operated restaurants across the U.S., the companies announced Tuesday. Valyant's artificial intelligence is currently installed in 12 franchise-owned stores.
- The technology reduces customer wait times, creates more upsell opportunities and results in improved employee satisfaction, Valyant wrote in an emailed statement.
- This technology expansion comes just a month after Checkers announced it would use Presto's AI voice products in all of its corporate-owned stores. A growing number of rival restaurants are also testing new AI configurations to streamline drive-thru service.
Checkers didn't disclose how many franchisees would deploy Valyant's drive-thru technology, but indicated that all operators would have the option to use the AI feature. As the restaurant employee shortage continues to squeeze the industry, Checkers' operators may turn to the technology to find marginal labor efficiencies as well as improved throughput.
"We felt it was important to provide franchisees with options to determine the best fit for their own AI needs while also providing the tools necessary to deliver a better experience for both team members and guests," Minh Le, chief information officer at Checkers & Rally's said.
According to a statement released by Checkers and Valyant, the AI firm's product can be integrated with extant drive-thru technology and point-of-sale systems, which could incentivize adoption. About 70% of Checkers & Rally's restaurants are franchised, so Valyant's deployment across the chain's system has access to hundreds of units, but will compete with Presto’s integration. Presto’s product is already deployed at some franchised Checkers locations, according to Presto, and the company has an exclusive deal to deploy its product to all of Checkers’ corporate-owned stores.
Valyant's product uses machine learning and natural language processing to refine its ability to take orders, and is capable of carrying on unstructured conversations with customers, according to a statement. Checkers & Rally's plans to take drive-thru AI national could be an important test of the technology's efficacy, as AI systems need to be able to recognize large numbers of menu items, complex grammar and differences in dialect and accent.
Roughly 97% of organizations are investing in big data and AI, according to TechJury survey data, and half of restaurant operators are planning to deploy automation tech in the next few years, Lightspeed research finds. That technology isn't limited to drive-thrus assets, either. For example, White Castle recently announced plans to roll out Flippy 2 fry cook robots at 100 more restaurants to streamline back-of-house operations.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the scale of Presto’s partnership with Checkers & Rally’s. Presto has an exclusive deal to deploy its artificial intelligence technology at all of the restaurant’s corporate stores, but franchisees also have the option of adopting the product. Presto’s AI product is currently deployed at some franchised locations.