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When Tariq Farid founded Edible Arrangements in 1999, he viewed the idea of edible fruit arrangements as an opportunity to combine his experience in technology and retail with an untapped market space with little competition.
Leaving the floral business, Farid started Edible Arrangements as a 600-square-foot store.
“Most of the people told us that it may be difficult because if it was something that was successful, if it was something that was going to be very popular, others would have done it,” Farid says.
But Farid wasn’t listening to the naysayers.
“I think all the stars were aligned for a small store,” he says. “Not necessarily a great company. But, that small store turned into a great company.”
In its first year, the company made $190,000. Farid reinvested the revenue to open a second store. It didn’t take long before the idea blossomed, and Faird began franchising the concept. Today, there are more than 1,000 stores throughout United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.
Smart Business sat down with Faird to discuss strategy and relationships.
Q: When you started franchising, how did you identify people who you believed were capable of taking your idea and making it their own?
If you put your processes and operations together properly, and if you lay the tracks down properly and you’ve tested it out, then whoever you find is only the starting point. You’re going to have to tolerate, grow or nurture.
And, if you’ve done those things right, most of them, the ones who are very motivated, will grasp on and be successful. And the ones who struggle? Because your systems are good and your franchisees are going to have the tools to be successful, you’ve put them in a good position, too.
So it became about giving the successful ones tools, systems and things that they had never thought of while, at the same time, for the ones who were struggling, providing a lot of hand-holding and one-on-one attention. They became successful, as well.
Systems are very important. You can’t just go out there and say we’re going to build stores without understanding how, what it will take, and how all these new elements and new ways of doing business apply to your business. It was out with the old at that time.
Q: What about relationships? How do you approach relationships with your customers and vendors?
The first thing I saw when I was about 15 years old and starting my first part-time job was that the customer is king. I grasped onto customer service from the beginning. Even now, our focus is always on the customer.
We go with the most important, working our way down after that. Our most important customer may be the customer who is buying our product. After that, our most important customer is going to be our franchisee. We will make sure they are all serviced properly, and that the products are something that they will relate to very easily.
You don’t just say “great customer service,” you practice it more and let the customer say how great it was. I actually go out to my people and say, ‘I don’t want you to tell me how many complaints you have. I want to know now many compliments you got.’
You have to work on getting compliments. If you are forced to focus on compliments, you will never have any complaints.
Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein / Story by Jessica Hanna