Man versus machine in franchisee recruitment


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As a generation X person I feel we’re a link between the technology native millennials, with their cloud based notes and voice activated assistants, and the old school: pen and paper, always carry a diary, err … old schoolers.

So like many, I’ve watched the development of AI and the news on what industries it’s going to completely replace and wondered if we’re next.

Technology has helped, and changed, how we work

How we work is now very different to when I started in franchising more than 20 years ago. This has been influenced and facilitated by technology.

How people receive information relating to a particular franchise or opportunity has completely changed.

The old path of a newspaper advert, perhaps followed by a telephone call, an exchange of paper-based information and endless face-to-face meetings (to expound the virtues of purchasing a particular business model) is gone – dead and forgotten. It has been replaced by social media, brand websites and Google. Thank goodness. This makes for better-informed buyers and for better, more valuable conversations when we start the dialogue with people.

Unquestionably, processes have also changed; the well-developed excel sheets with macros and links to access information and repeat tasks replaced by CRMs.

Faxed or posted forms have been replaced by secure digital signing platforms. Printed brochures replaced by websites, downloadable PDFs and digital assets.

Embedded in these new processes are time-saving process automations – sending forms, progressing sequential information flows and ensuring boxes are ticked and actions recorded.

Technology has replaced manual processes, assisting the franchisee recruiter and potential franchisee along the way. Essentially the same route, on a different mode of transport.

The real change now raised is the possibility of AI jumping in and replacing some of the touch points of the human recruiter.

A Google search “best franchises to buy in New Zealand” can already be replaced by AI; chatbots can run an interactive process resembling, and in some cases scarily close to replacing, a human recruiter, asking questions and guiding a potential franchisee buyer through the process.

Their ability to collect and collate data, record preferences and manage processes will in most cases surpass even the most experienced and capable recruiter.

What people do that technology cannot … yet

But before we log off and hand over to the machines to complete franchisee recruitment and sales processes, it’s worth stepping back and looking at the intention of recruiting, and what the machine is not yet able to imitate.

Franchising is a relationship model. The relationship is between, and relies on, people. The franchisee recruiter’s role is to make a match between the potential franchisee and the franchise brand; In essence, anything attempting to replace the human component is still trying to imitate the human relationship part, and here lies the crux.

The Maya Angelou quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” was not written about the franchise relationship, but it certainly does apply.

As yet AI can only imitate empathy. AI will never really have any feelings. AI cannot have any collective experience and relate to the candidate, so ultimately how is that going to make you feel?

So my take on AI as it relates to franchisee recruitment: it is not going to replace our ability to relate to and engage with each other on a personal level. We should not fear it taking our jobs, it should simply be seen as another (super clever) technology tool that may actually give us back some time.

Related: When the proverbial hits the fan

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Nathan Bonney
Nathan Bonney
Director of Iridium Partners. He can be reached at nathan@iridium.net.nz or 0275-393-022

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