The technological boom is happening all around us and the franchising industry is no exception. From the Metaverse to cryptocurrency, Authority Brands ensures that we remain informed on cutting-edge technology trends to best position our brands and owners for future growth.
Chief Information Officer, Ali Tafreshi, sat down to answer questions about trending technology and how they may (or may not) have an impact on the franchising industry.
With the rise of cryptocurrency as a potential alternative form of payment, do you see crypto or blockchain technology making its way into franchising?
I don’t see an opportunity…yet. The value of cryptocurrency is notoriously unstable and there are many exchanges that are not interoperable. In other words, losing dollar value is a big risk to our franchise owners. Maybe when the market is more mature and value is clearly pegged to the dollar it can be incorporated as an additional payment method for services provided. However, I think this is contingent upon the Federal Reserve's approach to cryptocurrency. Once the proper governance and regulations have been defined, then I think we can take a more serious look at incorporating blockchain technology. That does not mean crypto has to be mainstream. However, retaining its value and clear governance will be the key indicators that the tech is at a turning point.
What is some cutting-edge technology that you think could have an impact on franchise businesses in the near future?
I think Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (ML and AI) are already impacting businesses, including the franchising industry. Predictive analytics have practical applications with ML/AI technologies with use cases such as chatbots for online customer service, service offer pricing, preventative service maintenance, and route optimization, just to name a few.
With the advances in ML/AI technologies, how is Authority Brands currently evaluating and implementing these capabilities?
We have partnered with several technology providers that use ML/AI. A current example is route optimization. This entails finding the most efficient path to route technicians and trucks on their daily schedules. These optimizations save fuel costs, allow technicians to service more customers, and cut down on supply waste. This is just one example of how embracing advancing machine learning and artificial intelligence technology can have a net-positive impact on businesses and customers alike.
How will Authority Brands stay ahead of the curve when it comes to future technology?
We are always looking to find efficient ways to enable our franchisees to run their businesses and technology is a major component of that strategy. We are investing in building new platforms to standardize operational activities, with an eye toward self-service capabilities to help our franchisees scale and not have to worry about the tech side of running their business. We also don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, and we often look to our franchise system. Their experiences in the trenches and in the field supply us with ideas we are able to apply to the solutions we build. It’s a collaborative process.
How is Authority Brands embracing technology that is rapidly becoming an integral part of consumers' lives?
Alexa and Google Home are driving a thriving devices market that is evolving, and both consumer behavior and engagement methods are changing along with it. Our marketing team is experimenting and learning more about how consumer behaviors are changing and shifting from traditional engagement channels. I certainly think devices can have a place within several of our brands, particularly those that have recurring services, allowing for an enhanced, interactive customer engagement experience.
Additionally, we are incorporating the use of a scheduling app with one of our main products and will be looking to incorporate this functionality in other systems as we learn more and optimize the customer experience.
READ MORE: How Technology Enhances Franchise Ownership
Do you think the Metaverse will have an impact on running a business in the future? If so, how?
I think it’s too early to tell how the Metaverse will evolve. Most of the services our franchises provide require a physical presence and can’t be rendered through the virtual space. However, I can see opportunities where a technician or caregiver can use the metaverse to access information to enhance the services they provide and develop a differentiated customer experience. For example, the Metaverse could provide a virtual view of the equipment needing repair, offering a technician access to maintenance and repair instructions to pinpoint and troubleshoot a piece of faulty equipment. Alternately, a supervisor or franchise owner could use the Metaverse to provide remote support to a customer as DIY service. These are just a few ideas of how service brands might be able to embrace the evolving technology the Metaverse has to offer.
What technology is Authority Brands currently investing in that has you excited?
We have identified common patterns within our brands and combined them with the processes Authority Brands uses to help our franchisees scale. For example, we have built marketing automation within our field service platform to bring a common process and unified view to the data where the franchise operator is able to measure, track and optimize marketing spending. This platform also provides a consumer dashboard where they can view and manage their services. This approach allows us to maintain lower costs and use cloud technology to build and secure the tools we provide.
Ultimately, technology is progressing at a breakneck speed, and it is imperative for franchisors to keep pace with the developing advancements. At Authority Brands, we understand the need to incorporate new technologies to help drive our mission of improving the lives of our franchise owners, employees, and customers and will continue to seek new technological support that helps enhance that mission.