With Father’s Day this weekend, I’ve been reflecting lately on how fortunate I am to have had an amazing father but also some amazing father figures to look up to in my lifetime. I’ve written about my father in the past. He brought our family to the United States to create the opportunity for a better life for us all. Without him, I never would have made it to where I am today.
As I have watched events unfold over the past few weeks in response to the murder of George Floyd and other victims of racism, the question I found myself repeatedly asking is, “what can I do personally to make a difference?”
I am not a black man and therefore cannot truly understand the experience of being black in America. I do know, however, that as a citizen of a nation founded on the idea that “all men are created equal,” I have a moral obligation to stand up against racism, injustice and intolerance.
One of the things that happens to entrepreneurs as their companies expand and responsibilities change, is that it is easy to lose track of what it was like when you were first starting out and working on the front lines of your business.
I’ve always tried to keep those memories top-of-mind as much as possible. However, in times like this when every day brings new and often unexpected challenges, it is easy for those challenges to take over your entire world and push everything else aside.
That’s why I was so inspired to read stories recently of two Edible team members and their dedication and selflessness in making sure that their customers are taken care of despite the challenges the COVID-19 crisis has presented.
This past Easter weekend reminded me of my very first Easter as a small business owner. I learned a valuable lesson then that remains as true today as it did over two decades ago — the comeback is always stronger than the setback. I had only been open for a short time and had poured all of my money into flowers for Easter orders at my floral shop. Not really realizing what I was doing at the time, I set my cooler on the wrong temperature and lost my entire inventory. It took the help of an understanding supplier to fill my need in a hurry and on an impossible time schedule to not only save my Easter sales, but to save my business as a whole. I eventually paid that supplier back, and I remained his loyal and steady client for a long time thereafter. Looking back on that learning experience, I realize I could have let my troubles define my future. Instead, I rallied and not only met my customers’ needs but also provided a great product and service that kept them coming back. I didn’t do it alone, of course. My supplier, my family members working in the flower shop, and my self-determination to not fail created the perfect storm that turned a hurdle into a chance to shine. I see what I consider to be a very similar scenario playing out far and wide today across the small business community and especially among our Edible network. There is no doubt that almost every business has experienced some disruption as the COVID-19 virus continues to impact and change our world and our everyday lives. But for Edible, the ability of our franchisees to rally has not only been impressive, it has been transformational in the most monumental ways for their stores and the communities they serve.
Stepping up in a time of crisis
Despite all that is happening around them, Edible’s franchisees continue to do what they have always done so well for special occasions. I saw that in the Easter platters and holiday arrangements that flooded social media posts over the weekend. Even more importantly, they have also stepped up to meet brand new demands in our greater society at-large in ways that have been pivotal for our Edible network. The hit that sales took in the early days of this crisis was immediate, painful and could have been crippling. But the collective ability of the franchisees and the corporate staff to see a need and fill it with free delivery and fresh produce boxes — even though these were significant changes from our usual business and menu – has shown our network’s courage and determination to succeed in spite of these troubling times. My thanks run deep for the farmers and partners in the supply chain who stepped up to fulfill our changing orders — including our new popular vegetable offerings — at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, I am thankful for the franchisees who are the very lifeline of health and sustenance to their customers. What they have achieved with our evolving menu is nothing short of amazing. The ability to rally and serve whole fruit and whole produce with the experience and customer service that are hallmarks of the Edible experience has been something I will never forget. Orders continue to climb, and the numbers tell an amazing underlying truth: our franchise owners continue to WOW customers in ways that are memorable and, perhaps in these times, everlasting.
Going above and beyond
I would love to be able to personally congratulate everyone in our system for working through these trying times in ways we never thought imaginable. That includes all of those franchisees who have gone above and beyond to also give back in their communities. The abundance of love and support they have shown with deliveries to healthcare workers at local hospitals and first responders at police stations and fire stations are just a small glimpse into the positive impact they are having on the front lines. In the end, that’s what it’s all about — the positives that overcome the negatives. This past Easter (much like my first Easter in my small business), I truly believe we emerged much better as a business despite the adversities. And the road ahead looks even better as we continue evolving to meet new needs.