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Breaking Barriers – One Store at a Time

posted by Tariq Farid September 7, 2012

When I first started Edible Arrangements® in 1999 in a corner of my flower shop in East Haven, I never dreamed that we would have over 1,100 locations in the U.S. and around the world. Like many entrepreneurs just starting out, my first and main concerns were having enough money to stay open and getting customers. Opening a store overseas never even crossed my mind. I was more concerned about keeping my first Edible Arrangements store open and making it a success.

Well, what a difference a few short years make. Like many businesses, growth overseas is a tremendous opportunity to increase awareness of your brand and build your customer base. As a franchisor, opening your concept in a new country is daunting and nerve-racking. For me, finding the right partner to establish and build the Edible Arrangements brand in an international market is the most important decision I can make. Why? Well, I am entrusting the brand image, trade secrets and systems to someone to run with it –basically build the Edible Arrangements brand from scratch and introduce our products to a new market.

One of the first international countries we entered was Saudi Arabia. The person who we sold the rights to open Edible Arrangements in Saudi Arabia is an amazing woman, Nourah Al-Roassais. The first time I met Nourah I knew we found the perfect partner to introduce Edible Arrangements in Saudi Arabia. She had so much energy, enthusiasm and passion –she had the “wow” factor we look for in our international partners. She had everything we needed to make Edible Arrangements very successful, and that is what she has done. She has far surpassed our expectations. I cannot say enough about Nourah. She is probably the most inspiring, courageous person I know, and she not only inspires me and all of us at Edible Arrangements, she also inspires her staff and everyone she comes in contact with. The word ‘no” or ‘cannot’ has no place in her vocabulary. Her positive attitude and can do energy grabs us all. What she has accomplished as a businesswoman and role-model in Saudi Arabia is awe-inspiring.

Nourah is also a perfectionist. I’ve seen a lot of Edible Arrangements stores in the past 11 years. But I tell you, I have never been more blown away by the beauty and design of Edible Arrangements stores than when I visit Saudi Arabia and see Nourah’s stores. Only one word can describe her stores –phenomenal. I included just a few pictures of her stores in this blog for you to see. Nourah has pushed me –pushed all of us at Edible Arrangements -to make us better. Her only concern is making Edible Arrangements amazing. In three short years, Nourah has opened 11 stores and has built a tremendous loyal following. I know she will open many, many more successful stores soon, and keep giving us ideas that we can use to improve the system everywhere.

I just have to let you know the effect she has on people. At the annual Edible Arrangements convention this August, Nourah received the international franchisee of the year award. When Nourah came up to accept the award she received the biggest, loudest standing ovation that I have ever seen at our convention, or anywhere else for that matter. Franchisees wanted their picture taken with her, as did I. She is a true rock-star in our world. Her story and what she has accomplished makes the obstacles that I and others had to overcome seem very small. Thank you, Nourah –for inspiring all of us and making all of us at Edible Arrangements want to work a little harder, fight a little longer and give us a little more –well, a lot more – motivation to just go out and make it happen.

 

Tariq Farid and teacher Carol Warner
Technology

A Teacher’s Gift

posted by Tariq Farid June 26, 2012

The past few weeks across America many students were celebrating with their families graduation from or promotion to the next grade in school. It’s a time for new beginnings, excitement of what’s yet to come and accomplishment of obtaining, and in some instances continuing, an education. It should also be a time of reflection, to think back and appreciate the teachers who are major contributors in our growth, and who may have inspired and guided us through some of the most challenging years in our lives. So many people can say without hesitation that there was one teacher in particular that had a tremendous influence on them. I was blessed to have such a teacher in my life, someone who I am convinced was an angel sent to provide me with the foundation from which I was able to build my confidence and a fulfilling life in America.

On August 14, 1981, my family and I emigrated from Pakistan to the United States. I was 12 years old and about to enter 6th grade at Forest Elementary School in West Haven, CT. Sixth grade is tough for anyone, especially for someone who was unfamiliar with the culture and customs of America and didn’t speak very much English. Add to that I, like all other sixth graders, was at an age where I was very impressionable and eager to start asserting my own personality and opinions. Nevertheless, I was just so excited to be here and was looking forward to my first day at school. As you can imagine, on that first day, I felt lost, confused and eager to fit in and be accepted. Luckily, there was the kindest teacher at my school who helped shaped my perception of others, build my confidence and set me on my way being the person I am today.

Ms. Beckwith, my 6th grade teacher, was the type of teacher that cared about everyone and always went out of her way to help. The passion she had for teaching and the wellbeing of her students, and people in general, was infectious. She went above and beyond to teach me proper English, the importance of proper pronunciation and ensure that I had the necessary skills to succeed in this country. I remember she let me borrow a machine that would help me pronounce words. I would spend hours at home every night running these cards through the machine listening to the machine repeat words such as “tire,” “car” and hundreds of others so that I can learn and speak the language correctly. My mother became enamored with this machine as well and would sit there with me learning the words at the same time. Ms. Beckwith would spend extra time afterschool tutoring me, making sure I was keeping up with my studies and helping me navigate my way through the social landscape that is the 6th grade.

Flash forward 31 years. As the founder and President of Edible Arrangements International, Teacher’s Appreciation Week and National Teacher’s Day are two important occasions for the company. Although almost every day I think about Ms. Beckwith and the influence she had on my life, I never made the effort to find her and personally thank her for all that she did for me. I was driving to the office the day before Teacher’s Appreciation Week, which was May 6 this year, and finally decided I needed to locate her and let her know the impact she had on my life. The problem was I didn’t know where she was living, if she was still teaching, if she was married with a different last name, or if she would even remember me. After all –it has been 31 years. With the help of a wonderful woman from the Superintendent of School’s office in CT, we were able to locate Mrs. Warner (formerly Ms. Beckwith), who was still teaching 6th grade but at a different school in Connecticut –Norton Elementary School in Cheshire.

I decided to surprise her at the 6th grade “promotion” ceremonies on June 18. To say I was nervous was an understatement. However, I just wanted her and all her students to know that she was the one who forever defined for me that the nature of people is good, showed me that a teacher is a special person who must be cherished and appreciated, and convinced me that a teacher’s role in society is unparalleled. It was a special day, an emotional day, that I will never forget. Luckily she remembered me and I was able to thank her in person.

Tariq Farid and Carol Warner

So, as the summer begins, take a few minutes to reflect on your own past experiences and think about that teacher, or teachers, that had an influence on your life, like Mrs. Warner had on mine. If you are still in school, take a moment to thank those special teachers in your life and let them know they are appreciated. If you are no longer in school, pause for a few minutes to send a thank you note to that teacher who influenced you. I’m forever indebted to Mrs. Warner. Thank you Mrs. Warner for all that you did for me, and continue to do for hundreds of other students. Rest assured that you are loved, appreciated and respected by many.

 

Technology

Consumers on the Move: The Need for a Mobile Strategy

posted by Tariq Farid June 6, 2012

We’ve heard the warnings: Ignore the mobile space at your own peril. Simply put, any company that isn’t moving toward putting a mobile strategy in place has their head in the proverbial sand. And here at Edible Arrangements, we’ve never been accused of that.

An interesting article posted this morning on TheAtlantic.com (“Why Mobile Will Dominate the Future of Media and Advertising”) points out what a lot of us have been thinking: We’re about to enter a world in which tablets and smartphones will outnumber PCs. This is the moment to embrace this swiftly growing medium.

“We are actually beginning to enter the golden age of mobile,” writes Atlantic columnist Richard Ting. “How we experience life, relationships, entertainment, education, exercise and work has been completely transformed because of mobile.”

With consumers currently spending 10 percent of their media attention on their mobile devices, and experts predicting that tablet sales will exceed PC sales within the next 2-3 years, it’s hard to dispute what he, and many others, has been saying. Global internet usage is poised to double by the middle of the decade, led by mobile usage.

This an exciting time, and Edible Arrangements is capturing that excitement this month with the official launch of our mobile optimized website. Starting June 14, anyone navigating to EdibleArrangements.com from their mobile device will be directed to the mobile version of the site. It’s a bold new step for us, and one that we promised our franchisees last year at our annual convention.

From now on, mobile users will have a whole new way to interact with us, browsing for items and purchasing products with ease. With one in five (and rising fast) of our customers using their mobile phones to access our website to place their order, it was the logical thing to do.

We expect it to be a great way to drive sales over the summer (and take advantage of our Sweet Savings Celebration promotions all summer long), and we also plan on continuing to streamline the site leading into the holiday season at the end of the year. In the meantime, try the mobile site in just one week’s time and let us know what you think.

The world is changing at a very rapid pace, and businesses must work harder than ever to keep up. In the end, the returns are worth it. At Edible Arrangements, we’re committed to WOWing our customers—as well as our franchisees—it’s something we simply must do, and take pride in doing. I’m excited to be a part of it, and once you see our new site, I think you will be too.

Edible Arrangements Mobile Consumer Website

Technology

Moving Your Brand Forward

posted by Tariq Farid April 27, 2012

Every company no matter the size or age needs to evaluate their ‘brand’ continuously to determine its customers’ and the publics’ perception of it. In the eyes of the consumer, what does your company stand for and is there an emotional connection to your company and its product(s)? Does your company have a brand personality that is clear and connects with customers?

These are weighty questions and are not easily answered. It takes a lot of effort and time to build a company’s brand personality, but it’s time that every business needs to spend in order to grow and be successful. At Edible Arrangements, building a brand that emotionally resonates with the public has been a slow, purposely so, yet steady progression as we didn’t want to move to fast and leave the customer confused. The big question facing us –as it does every company –is how to go about doing this. In addition to its internal culture and social footprint, topics I will discuss in future blog posts, a company’s marketing, advertising and promotional campaign has a tremendous impact and affect in building a brand personality that consumers can quickly identify and connect with.

When my brother and I first started Edible Arrangements in 1999 and even when we sold our first franchise in 2001, we didn’t have the money to advertise. What we were able to do, and still do as it’s the cornerstone of our success, was focus on giving the best customer service possible with the hope that positive word of mouth would create a buzz and interest. From the start, people were “wowed” by our product and service and told their friends and family. As the company grew, we started advertising slowly, dabbling in print and online by creating our web site. Over the years we marketed and advertised a little more as we still didn’t have much money and in 2008 we started a national television advertising program to help introduce Edible Arrangements to everyone.

Still working with limited resources, the goal of the first few years was to educate the consumer about Edible Arrangements and our products. A lot of people didn’t know what we did or what we sold so for television to be effective we had to inform the public first and build our brand awareness. So for the past four years we took a very functional approach to our advertising.

We always knew that eventually we would have to change this approach, evolve our messaging and move to the next step in building our brand through marketing and advertising. We patiently waited as our brand awareness began to increase and the consumer started becoming familiar with Edible Arrangements. Now that consumers understand what we do, it’s time to show them who we are as a company. We need to create a brand personality that emotionally connects with consumers.

Our first phase of communicating Edible Arrangements brand personality begins this Saturday, April 28. On this date, we are launching a brand new television campaign –a new TV commercial for Mother’s Day – that showcases the magical world of Edible Arrangements and matches our unique products with specific occasions. For the new campaign, we enlisted an amazing ‘artist’ named Carl Warner to create visually inspiring and engaging fruitscapes –our own magical worlds of Edible Arrangements made mainly out of fruit, the same fruit we use in making our arrangements and Edible To Go products. We also feature four of our amazing franchisees in the series of spots that bridge the fictional world with the real world where our franchisees continue the magical experience of creating our products through delivery to our customer. We also for the first time created our own jingle, our new tagline –“Make Life a Little Sweeter with Edible Arrangements.” My children cannot stop singing it, and I hope it has the same effect on you. Click Here to go to Edible Arrangements consumer website to view the first TV spot beginning on Saturday, April 28th.

This is just the first step of many in building our brand personality. I’m hopeful the public responds to our new television spot, as well as our new in-store window banners and other local promotional materials, and other forms of marketing that communicates our brand and explains who we are. I hope I was able to give you some insight into what Edible Arrangements has done and is doing to build an effective brand that can translate to your company or give you some ideas. No company can from the very beginning be impatient and jump to the finishing line. Rather, think ahead, set clear goals of what you want to accomplish and by taking one small step at a time take both your brand and the consumer along for a magical ride.

 

Technology

Edible Arrangements Blooms on Bloomberg TV

posted by Tariq Farid April 17, 2012

Tariq Farid On Bloomberg

Yesterday, Wednesday, April 18, was a special day for Edible Arrangements and all our hardworking franchisees. On behalf of Edible Arrangements, I appeared on Taking Stock with Pimm Fox, a national investment program airing on Bloomberg TV. This was a milestone for our brand as Pimm Fox is one of the most respected business reporters and hosts around, and I was honored to be on his show. It’s a dream come true for me in that this was an amazing opportunity for a national audience to learn more about Edible Arrangements, our incredible products, our franchisees and brand mission to ‘Wow You,’ and to just have the opportunity to tell our story. Please click Here to watch the video. I’ve always said you can obtain any goal or achieve your dream so long as you believe in yourself, work hard with intelligent passion, be honest and start small but dream big. Edible Arrangements was my dream only 12 short years ago, and nothing thrills me more than making so many people’s dreams of owning their own business –an Edible Arrangements franchise –and building their own enterprise come true.