LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The state of the workforce is forcing business owners in Las Vegas to get creative — and one owner is employing people from around the globe to fill vacancies.
“So many restaurants out there with so many signs, ‘We close early,’ ‘Short of labor,’ ‘Please be patient.’ We don’t want to do that,” Mehdi Zarhloul, owner of Crazy Pita, told Nexstar’s KLAS. “A lot of our students that work with us, they work summer and then they leave with school, activities or vacation.”
Zarhloul’s solution? He’s staffing his workforce with “virtual cashiers” from over 8,000 miles away.
This type of technology is already somewhat common in Europe and Canada, but it is just starting to make its way to the U.S. Basically, these virtual cashiers appear on tablets inside the restaurant, to perform customer-service tasks from afar.
“First, I thought it was Alexa, and then I saw it was actually video chat,” one Crazy Pita customer told KLAS.
Hasnain Ahmad, 19, is one of Crazy Pita’s virtual cashiers. He greets the restaurant’s customers as they walk through the door.
“Whenever I turn on my camera … they come into a restaurant, they see me, they see a guy on a tablet, and they’re like, stunned. They’re like, ‘Wow, where are you?’ The most frequently asked question, like, ‘Where are you?’ ‘Are you here? Are you back at the kitchen?'” Ahmad said.
Ahmad is in Pakistan getting his education and making ends meet by putting in a 40-hour workweek as a virtual cashier. He is employed by a company called Percy.
Ahmad trained for three weeks before starting as a virtual cashier. From afar, he can input customizations for each order, which frees up the other staff to focus on service.
“Since we started using Percy, our rating and our stars have skyrocketed. We’re getting a number of five-star reviews on a constant basis,” Zarhloul said.
Zarhloul believes it’s also more efficient since no one is standing around waiting on someone to walk in the door.
“We haven’t lost anybody or replaced anybody. We’re using our employees toward other tasks that are directly connected to the customers,” Zarhloul said.