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Upcoming Tech SPAC Helps Checkers Jump McDonald's

Checkers and Rally's restaurants will deploy Presto's automated voice ordering system at company-owned drive-thru locations in 2022.

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants has leaped ahead of McDonald's  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report and other fast-food competitors with its plan to roll out hospitality tech provider Presto's automated voice ordering system in company-owned drive-thru locations. 

The Tampa, Fla., fast-food burger chain said that it will install Presto's technology in its 260 corporate-owned Checkers and Rally's restaurants in the largest and first of its kind rollout of an artificial intelligence-based voice-assistant solution in the hospitality industry, according to a Presto statement

Presto's system is designed to help maximize labor efficiency at a time when restaurant employers are facing challenges in recruiting and retaining employees.

The National Restaurant Association reported in its 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Mid-Year Update that 75% of restaurant operators say recruitment and retention is their toughest challenge. It reported employment levels on June 30 nearly 8%, or 1 million jobs, below pre-pandemic employment levels.

"As a company, we embrace technology that will help our team members maximize time and efficiency while making their jobs easier and more enjoyable, creating a better experience for them as well as our guests," Checkers and Rally's CEO Frances Allen said in a Monday statement.

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Checkers Wants a Better Guest Experience

The automated voice ordering system is expected to streamline the guest experience while increasing the guest-to-staff ratio in the drive-thru. The restaurant chain believes it can free up staff for more people-dependent areas of their business and enhance guest interaction overall.

Checkers and Rally's in 2021 conducted a four-month pilot program to test the technology, which delivered a high level of automation and accuracy with over 98% of drive-thru orders completed with minimal intervention from restaurant employees, according to the statement.

McDonald's Has Tested AI Drive-Thru

McDonald's in 2021 tested an artificial intelligence drive-thru order system at 10 Chicago locations with an 85% accuracy rate, according to a ZDNet report in June. The restaurant chain has not revealed any further plans for the system.

Presto provides labor automation technology for the restaurant and hospitality industry. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company in November executed a definitive merger agreement with special purpose acquisition company Ventoux CCM Acquisition  (VTAQ) , with plans to become a publicly listed company trading on Nasdaq once the deal closes.

Checkers and Rally's are owned by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, which operates 836 locations in 29 states.