Practical uses of AI in a franchise

AI is really just another description for new technology and should be researched, tested and used as any other that has been introduced to a franchise network

Practical uses of AI in a franchise

In my last article, I wrote about how AI has actually been here for many years and how it is likely to be the new World Wide Web. However, AI is really just another description for new technology and should be researched, tested and used as any other that has been introduced to a franchise network, just like virtual meetings have become the norm in the last few years when no one wanted to use them before.

To recap on the earlier article about AI, although this time I’ll just use another name for the technology in the hope it is less daunting.  So, the first decade of the 21st century saw the emergence of Machine Learning or put more simply the analysis of massive amounts of data and ‘learnt’ from it.  Every business should be analysing data to find patterns, generate insights, make predictions and take action.  It has helped business plan accordingly.  Moving into the 2010s Deep Learning or the vision and speech phase emerged when self-driving cars and voice recognition evolved – and continues to do so now. Now on to the most recent years and there is Chat GPT and other similar tools helping businesses undertake marketing, PR and much more.

As I mentioned previously Chat GPT and others need to be taken carefully, especially when seeking any legal or accountancy advice, as you will need to check with an expert whether it is in fact correct. 

Don’t forget technology is already being used in warehouse management where systems can predict which products will or do sell best, optimise stock levels, and reduce waste.  Chatbots and virtual assistants that can resemble an actual person, such as me and can handle routine customer enquiries, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex issues.  It’s now widely used in creating marketing & PR to help target customers more effectively, and optimise pricing and promotions.  Scheduling systems can optimise employees based on predicted demand, reducing labour costs and improving customer service.  Quality control systems can detect defects and anomalies in products, reducing the cost of returns and improving customer satisfaction.   Maintenance and repair systems can predict when equipment is likely to fail, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.  Training systems can personalise learning for employees, improving knowledge retention and reducing training costs.  Financial management systems can automate routine tasks, such as invoicing and expense tracking, reducing errors and improving accuracy.  Technology can help franchises identify optimal locations for new stores based on demographic data, traffic patterns, and other factors.

These aspects are just some of the elements that can help businesses, which, in turn, can help franchise networks depending on whether it applies to them, but what can this type of technology do for a franchise?

It can help you to write your newsletters, whether that is internal or external. 

It can conduct an analysis of the data you receive and provide a very useful interpretation or trend analysis.  For example, you can feed the technology with surveys – by franchisees of yourself, such as that conducted by Workbuzz, by customers of the franchisees, P&L and other financial information and ask it to comment on the data.  

If you need a problem solving, even a personal one, you can ask the question and it will suggest several solutions.  This could be an additional member of your Franchise Council or any other working group, as it may well have knowledge, such as legal or accounting, that no one in the group will be familiar with or have considered as an option.

In a similar vein of thought, you can upload your Operations Manual to the technology and guide franchisees to ask questions there, rather than support staff.  It will undoubtedly save time and resources rather than trying to recall where something is in it.  One franchisor that is using this has reduced repeated enquiries by over 25%.

Obviously, some care needs to be taken around the above practical ideas without making the information uploaded widely available in the technology to your competitors, etc.

In my next article, I will cover more areas for consideration.

Mark Scott
Mark Scott