A few weeks ago we held our very first Fruit Summit at our Edible Arrangements corporate headquarters in Wallingford, CT. What is a Fruit Summit? It’s the name we gave –our business is fruit after all – our in-person brainstorming session with our franchisees. For three days, we hosted an amazing group of Edible Arrangements owners from across North America to listen and learn from them.

By bringing a representative group of our franchisees together for an open discussion to discuss key areas impacting their business, we were afforded the opportunity to obtain their feedback before finalizing system-wide initiatives. Most importantly, we wanted franchisees to understand the “why” behind each initiative, thus enabling them to give us their informed point of view.

You may think this seems obvious, getting the involvement and feedback from your franchisees (if you are a franchisor), employees, vendors or customers before your company announces new initiatives, products or services. But unfortunately many companies move forward too quickly without taking the time to follow this step, to their detriment in many instances. I know it may be hard to admit, but you –we -don’t know it all. The corporate hierarchy (or government/political hierarchy for that matter) –the executives in charge of running business organizations (or government institutions) –can become insulated and arrogant, leading to bad decisions and strategies that are not well-thought out.

Major company decisions should not be made in a vacuum without the input from others inside, and in some cases even outside, your organization. I’m not saying every single business decision needs to be completely vetted, run by or approved by your customers, employees or franchisees –that would be both unrealistic, unproductive and probably would result in organizational paralysis. However, for key initiatives it can be very beneficial to put it out there and get feedback because more than likely you will get advice that you may not have thought of before. The ultimate goal of course is a better product, program, service or initiative.

I’ll admit it, at the beginning of my entrepreneurial career I may not have always practiced what I’m currently preaching. Yes, I always sought input and feedback from my customers, but I wasn’t always so open-minded or welcomed feedback, especially critical feedback, from others. But with experience comes maturity –maturity of mind, perspective, and attitude. My father always told me that with experience comes wisdom. How right he was –and still is! I’ve come to appreciate the importance of listening before acting, and I believe the share act of keeping an open mind and maintaining a willingness to change can help everyone in business, and their customers.

Remember, it’s not personal. It’s business!

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