Franchise brands are taking advantage of technology to increase efficiency savings and support innovations. The variety of intelligent tools is growing, and restaurants and retail operators are utilizing them to achieve positive results, including enhancing customer experiences, improving employee engagement and creating operational efficiencies.
These functions are all interconnected and impact every aspect of the business. Technologies like AI, automation and reporting systems are offering endless options to the industry, which franchises and restaurants are increasingly leveraging. Examining a business’ infrastructure is vital in order to support any growth and install enterprise softwares that can positively impact the company’s bottom line.
Customer-facing technologies present many benefits, ranging from engagement with customers via social media to loyalty schemes, mobile applications and other touchpoints that facilitate direct communication with the end user. Such tools allow the capture of data that can generate competitive advantages. Customers not only want everything at the touch of a button, they also expect the information to be readily available. A customer perception, the potential time value of that perception and the return on any investment starts and ends with these technologies and how we use them.
Artificial intelligence is reshaping the world of franchising. Here are some of the ways in which it is doing so:
Consumers are increasingly using virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Siri, to search for restaurants and even place orders. McDonald’s is piloting Drive-Thru voice recognition as sales growth continues.
Facial recognition kiosks
Face recognition kiosks can identify loyal customers and customize their experience based on order history. Menu options can be suggested by the artificial intelligenceenabled system depending on the customer’s age and preferences.
KFC China teamed up with Baidu to develop facial recognition technology that predicts customers’ orders, provides dish recommendations and enables targeted marketing campaigns. CaliBurger, Malibu Poke, UFood Grill and other franchises are also experimenting with facial recognition kiosks.
Smart and interactive tables
Smart and interactive tables help to elevate the experience of restaurant guests. Indeed, customers can place orders themselves and settle their bill without having to ask restaurant staff.
Touchscreen self-ordering technologies are helping franchises like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Shake Shack decrease queuing time.
Online training for employees
Employee engagement and the ever increasing cost of labor are challenges that all customer-facing organizations must address. Training high-turnover employees is a fundamentally important but somewhat difficult and costly venture. Incorporating training programs and making them easy to access and follow is being made easier with the support of technologies available within the industry today.
McDonald’s has a set of online courses to prepare employees for the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification exam. The online sessions comprise audio and video tutorials with interactive exercises that simulate real-life scenarios.
Operational efficiency means using the technology-based applications of a business’ back office operations. Point of sale partners are now integrating new functions into the platform; there is now an increased dependency on these devices. All business owners within the industry need a transactional POS with alternative payment methods to meet the growing demand for customized options. Additionally, to create operational effectiveness, these devices support the “click and collect” world that we now live in. The data transmitted is strategically important — data collection and storage are considered vital. For example, Bruster’s Ice Cream franchise installed the online ordering platform Olo and integrated third-party residential delivery services directly into its POS system. There is a great deal of pressure on franchises to invest and adopt technology in order to increase their competitive advantage, efficiencies and costs.
DR. JASSIM HAJI
Global Artificial Intelligence Group