People love to watch the TV show “Undercover Boss” and see how CEOs act when they are out in the field incognito. I could never be a part of that show, because I’m never undercover – I go on the road meeting and visiting with franchisees all the time. It’s one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things about my job! I love to talk with them about how they first heard about Edible Arrangements, and why they decided to buy a franchise. Their stories vary, but they all have a common theme . . . people buy Edible Arrangements franchises because they are passionate about making people happy, and they know they can be successful putting that passion to work for them.
Earlier this year I had the chance to meet one of the youngest franchisees in our system. Right out of college Kristen got a job as a bank teller but she had a dream of one day owning her own business. “One day” came sooner than she expected. Her Dad had received several gifts from Edible Arrangements and began the initial research into the franchise on Kristen’s behalf. Kristen soon learned that a store about an hour from her home was for sale. She took a look, and a week and half later, quit her job, packed up and moved, and began running her Edible Arrangements store.
Kristen admits that when she first bought the business she was a bit “terrified” but she also felt like this was the perfect time in her life to own her own business. This was June of 2009, when many recession-fearing folks were hunkering down, not knowing what the economy held in store. Kristen knew she had what it takes to be successful and went for it! She learned marketing, took accounting courses, and is always looking for new ideas to grow her business.
And she’s moving fast, too! In just two years, Kristen has gone from being a single unit owner to the owner of three stores located in Oakville, Burlington and Milton, Ontario. At first she felt like she was living out of her car, bouncing back and forth from each store to get things done, but she’s quickly become a true enterprise owner. She feels like her employees are “her kids” even though, at 25, she’s hardly a mother hen.
Kristen loves dealing with customers and making arrangements but she really appreciates being in control and charting her own course. She knows she can’t be in three places at once, so she has put great people in each of her stores. She says she’s still a “rookie” in terms of tenure with the system, but she doesn’t feel like one and she makes the big business decisions for her enterprise to prove that she doesn’t manage like one, either.
When I met Kristen a few months back I was stuck by her energy, enthusiasm and drive to get the business to where she wants it to be. She was straightening out the basement on my visit – not an area her customers were ever going to see, but she just wanted everything in order. I was so impressed by that – here was a person who knew that running a business smoothly means everything is in order and operating well, from your products, to your customer service, to the back end of your operation that no one ever sees.
This July I shared Kristen’s story with other franchisees at our annual convention, and honored her work with the President’s Award, the highest award presented annually to a deserving franchisee! And I’ll keep going out on the road meeting and learning about the amazing franchisees in this system – but not undercover!