What is the future of AI and Franchising
AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been with us for a few years now but in reality, businesses are only just beginning to understand how powerful it is. In fact, AI is being used in a multitude of applications. Indeed, many people are benefiting from AI without even realising it, in the home and in business.
But it wasn’t until the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 that AI made headline news. Not only that, businesses started to really sit up and take notice of the technology, and the franchising network was no different. So, what is AI and how will it impact the future of franchising?
What is AI?
AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is an extension of machine learning but it is able to be directed and learn to act and think like a human. It is the technology that makes use of machines and computers to perform a whole range of problem-solving and decision-making functions.
According to Gartner, 40% of infrastructure and operations teams will start to use AI-based automation to increase productivity, and thereby sales revenue. It is being used across many different industry sectors, from finance and healthcare to travel and manufacturing.
This revolutionary technology can help businesses with:
● Delivering a better customer experience.
● Marketing personalisation.
● Streamlining business operations.
● Increased productivity and efficiency.
● Access to real-time data analysis and insights.
How does AI impact franchising?
Automation, digital marketing and data analysis are possibly the biggest benefits for the franchising industry. Let’s look at these in more detail.
How can automation help my business?
Automating some of the tasks a franchisee has to manage, like monitoring performance and gathering data insights to scheduling marketing campaigns and bookkeeping, can help to reduce costs. It will also streamline operations and enhance a more efficient business model.
How can AI help with Digital Marketing?
Successful marketing campaigns are at the heart of business success. AI data analysis tools provide more accurate insights into business performance as well as buyer behaviour and preferences. This allows franchisees to personalise their marketing activity to a more targeted audience, creating a better opportunity to maximise ROI and generate sales.
Would AI help with Data Analysis?
Through the use of digital online tools, which help franchisees stay ahead and up-to-date, AI ensures they are able to manage and analyse far bigger data sets. This provides a much more detailed profile of the business and its customers, as well as greater insights. In turn, allows for more scaled marketing campaigns and strategic decision-making.
Applying AI to your franchise business
To give you an insight into how AI can be applied in your franchise business, here are some suggestions:
● Using virtual assistants and chatbots. This type of AI-based technology can lift your franchise above your competitors. They can be embedded into your website and will interact with your customers by answering their queries. Not only does this save you time, but it also improves the customer experience.
● Adopting ChatGPT for forecasting. What a lot of people don’t know is that ChatGPT is more than just a marketing tool. It also has the capability to predict your sales and forecast levels of inventory that would normally take days to do by hand. In turn, this boosts productivity and therefore, operation efficiency.
● AI-powered customer relationship systems. The key to any business’s success, franchise or not, is the customer relationship. Powering your CRM systems with AI not only saves time and resources, but it also gives you all the information you need about your customers at your fingertips and automates regular tasks.
● Automated marketing. Streamline your marketing campaigns through automation and, at the same time, use tools like ChatGPT to help create great email headings, social media posts, brochures and more.
Is the franchising industry ready for AI?
Adopting AI technology is not just a simple case of inserting a microchip and away you go. There’s a lot more to it. Any AI-powered tool you introduce to the business must integrate seamlessly with your latent systems, which will often mean hiring a specialised technician.
Once installed, you will need to spend time learning how to use your AI tools, as will your staff. The problem is that many franchisees just don’t have the resources to do this. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some point in the future.
The next headache is data privacy and security. Your customers aren’t just trusting you with their sensitive and confidential data, they are also having to trust your AI-powered data tool. Therefore, you need to know that it is completely safe to use and reliable because a data breach could mean the end of your business ambitions.
The elephant in the room is, of course, cost. As AI is considered still in the early stages of development, in technology terms anyway, it is still a relatively high cost to implement AI-based tools. That’s not to say there aren’t AI platforms that are low or reasonably priced, there are but there’s always the risk that the platform is not right for your business’s needs.
So, while there are plenty of opportunities to harness the power of AI within your franchise business, you have to take a detailed look at the benefits it will bring and balance that against your planned investment. Yes, it does enhance your business and streamline your operations, but it also comes with its challenges. These need to be taken into consideration in any decision you make.
Our network of it’seeze website consultants throughout the UK and Ireland are knowledgeable on a variety of AI-powered tools that could boost your franchise business. They help businesses of all shapes and sizes build websites that incorporate a range of AI-based features that will enhance your website's Google Business Profiles. We help to make sure your fully optimised website is effective, delivering a great customer experience online and can generate enquiries as well as sales. Get in touch with us today to start your It’seeze journey.
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