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Want to build your business? Get out of the store

  • entrepreneurs
  • Expansion
  • franchising
  • growth
  • risk
  • technology

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Reva Enzminger, one of the most successful franchisees in the Edible Arrangements system. Reva is a former “Franchisee of the Year” who operates four stores in the Austin, Texas, area and another in Corpus Christi. In that first blog, she shared her insight into securing financing as a new business owner.

Now she shares more insight, this time on how she expanded her businesses and continues to grow them.

The key, she says, is getting out of the store.

“I’m a much better owner when I’m not in the store,” she said with a laugh. “I learned very quickly that if you are working 10 to 12 hours a day in your store, it’s going to be impossible to get out and network and promote your business. And that is one of the most critical functions of a small business owner.”

The secret to freeing yourself, she discovered, is having the right infrastructure in place.

“You have to have systems and processes that work,” she said. “You have to be confident that your team is consistently producing quality products. It all comes back to making sure employees are trained.”

Anyone who has ever owned a small business knows that is often easier said than done. And Reva found that out first hand.

When Edible Arrangements introduced a computerized training program to replace the old manual system a few years ago, Reva was not on board.

“I fought it hard,” she remembered. “I was still heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the store and it was hard to see how investing in an expensive computer would make us more efficient. But my business was growing and my only other options were to hire someone to train the staff or risk sending out bad products.”

It didn’t happen right away, but it wasn’t long before Reva began to understand the value of her investment.

“It wasn’t until I began having to spend more and more time outside of the store that I really began to appreciate it,” she said. “Now I get it. It is absolutely one of the best things I ever did. It has created more consistency across all the stores than would have been possible otherwise.”

In fact, Reva says that this consistency through technology is allowing her to take the next step in her expansion plans. Those plans include moving beyond the Austin area and, perhaps, eventually outside of Texas. Reva recently purchased a franchise in Corpus Christi, which is a three-hour drive from her home base.

“Since you can get almost anywhere in three hours, either by driving or flying, I’m using this as a test case,” she says. “If I can operate a successful business three hours away in Corpus Christi, then I know I can open a franchise anywhere.”

The lesson, as Reva discovered, is that thinking like an owner often requires getting away from the day-to-day and taking a broader look at your operations.

“Sometimes embracing new things right up front is hard, especially when you have to spend your hard-earned money and you are not sure if it will be worth the investment,” she said. “But once I stepped outside the stores and looked at the results from a larger perspective, I realized this was freeing me to truly operate as an owner.”

As I have written before, one of the great advantages of operating a franchise system is that I have access to an endless wealth of business knowledge among the hundreds of Edible Arrangements franchisees such as Reva, who are willing to share their experiences. I always learn something new from them and I will share more of their ideas and experiences in upcoming blogs.

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