Bill Russ and his team at the downtown Baltimore Edible Arrangements are an example that a key to building a successful business is being able to deal with unexpected challenges.
One of the things you quickly realize as the owner of a business, whether big or small, is that you should always expect the unexpected. There will always be challenges, some that you create yourself, and others over which you have no control.
The key to building a successful business is how you deal with those challenges.
That’s why I am always so inspired when I hear stories about our Edible Arrangements franchisees facing and overcoming challenges. Few have been as inspiring as the announcement that Bill Russ, a franchisee in Baltimore, recently had the #1 store in sales for the week.
It began on the evening of April 25. Anyone watching the news that evening could not avoid reports of what was happening on the streets of Baltimore as protests began to break out throughout the city. Bill has an Edible Arrangements store in downtown Baltimore and when his team arrived on Sunday morning they found the plate glass window shattered but fortunately there was no other damage. As the civil unrest continued to escalate over the next few days Bill closed early nearly every day to make sure his crew could get home while conditions were still relatively safe.
From a business standpoint, residents were staying off the streets so walk-in traffic dried up for the week as people were afraid to go downtown. Bill and his employees, however, were determined to keep the business open and had an “all hands on deck” mentality. They never thought about not taking whatever orders came in, either online or in the store.
“We kept our display cases full and inviting,” Bill said. “No one was turned away.”
The damage, however, had been done. A store that Bill expected to be among the Top 20 in the nation in sales for Mother’s Day slipped to 138th.
Still, Bill never questioned that he would rebuild his business. It wasn’t the first time he had faced challenges thrown his way.
“I remember one particular Valentine’s Day when we suffered back to back snowfalls of more than 20 inches each,” he said. “We couldn’t get anything delivered because no one was going to their work place where we were asked to deliver their arrangement.”
What happened then?
“Our guests still sent their Valentine an Edible Arrangement! Our sales the following two weeks of that February set records,” he said. “The demand for Edible Arrangements is insatiable. Over the past 10 years I have learned that our guests want our product no matter what.”
With that in mind, Bill and his team focused on getting their customers to return as the protests died down and the city began the process of recovering.
“That became our biggest challenge, encouraging our guests to come back and visit us,” Bill said. “Our employees are devoted to their store and they take pride in its success. We know we have a great product and resolved to be there for our guests whenever they felt ready to come back. We felt a personal responsibility to do our part to recover from this adversity and show our support for Baltimore and its good, law abiding citizens. We resolved to do our part to rebuild this great city!”
And the guests did return, to the point that the Baltimore store achieved their recent #1 ranking in sales for the week.
“We have always embraced every opportunity to serve our guests, including offering a full line of products and keeping the store fresh with the latest upgrades,” Bill said. “We want to be the most inviting retailer in downtown Baltimore and we are proud to show off the most attractive retail space in our neighborhood!”
And as for lessons learned to share with others who find themselves facing difficult situations?
“Setbacks will come,” Bill said. “That’s a fact of life none of us can avoid. In the end our success will be measured in how we respond to those adversities.”
Well said, Bill. And congratulations to you and your dedicated team for a job well done!