Use technology to work smarter

It was Abrahm Lincoln that said: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Use technology to work smarter

The good news is that advances in technology offer franchise companies the opportunity to work smarter, not just harder, but only if technology is used wisely and not just for technology’s sake.

One small positive from the Pandemic was that it has taught us that remote communication and working practices are achievable and acceptable.  Countless hours have been saved avoiding travel to meetings, and as a result, firms embracing Teams and Zoom have seen productivity increase because staff have more time with less commuting. 

We work in the field of video surveillance, data analysis and reporting, taking advantage of developments in AI and machine learning to help organisations work smarter.  Franchise organisations across the world are now also starting to leverage the advantages of intelligent analysis of CCTV footage to improve how stores and branches are run remotely too. 

Remote video can be arranged hierarchically.  This means a franchisor can have a view across an entire estate while a franchisee just across the outlets they manage.  The beauty of video is if we can see it we can measure it, and it gives us a permanent record of any issues which can then be addressed. 

For one retailer with 300 stores in 100 countries it was impossible to monitor the consistency of the store experience across the estate.  Therefore, the chance to enhance the customer journey and also prevent loss through smart analysis of video surveillance was priceless.  For food franchises, concerns around food safety, cleanliness and compliance may be more of an issue. 

However, generating huge volumes of video data on its own presents a further challenge.  Hours of recordings may not add value to any franchise if managers simply don’t have time to view footage and most don’t.  However, combined with advanced analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), patterns of behaviour can be identified, and the supporting video evidence used to rectify common problems.  This can include improving speed of service or order accuracy for example.  Working with expert business advisors in this field is how video surveillance can be best used to help franchise organisations work smarter.

Think of it like this:  a mystery shopper may visit a store or restaurant say once a fortnight and report back.  This is labour intensive, and the shopper is just seeing one moment in time.  Stores may also get wise to these visits and so a consistent picture is never presented.  However, video surveillance captures footage 24/7 so every incident is highlighted both good and bad.

A Smart Audit, which means a human analyses footage on behalf of the franchise company, assisted by AI or machine learning, can be used to report on a series of questions set by the franchisee or franchisor.  These might include questions like:  Did the employees appear to wash their hands every time prior to handling food?  Or, were customers served in less than 2 minutes?  Or, did the dining area in restaurant appear to be clean?  Proof points are provided in a regular report which includes video screen captures to remove any doubt about what actually happened.

This overall snapshot of the entire estate is a clever way to monitor and leverage the latest advances in technology combined with smart analysis to save time, achieve consistency across the brand and ultimately enhance customer experiences.

For multi-unit franchisees, analysis of data in this way, means all stores can be benchmarked and information used to ensure the same quality of service is applied across the estate.  After all, this is what a franchise brand should be about: being able to replicate the same great customer purchasing experience in every store.  Recordings of best practice can easily be shared with each location to help with staff training too.  We call this positive approach: taking advantage of big sister technology.

Technology to enable remote working has now come into its own.  Video surveillance in combination with intelligent analytics can now offer franchise organisations smarter ways of working, freeing up time and offering insight to make continual improvements to their businesses.

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”  Thomas A. Edison.

Gareth Bakewell
Gareth Bakewell