When I created Edible Arrangements in 1999, and again when the first franchise location opened in 2001, I was convinced the idea would be successful. I could never have imagined, however, that less than two decades later we would have more than 1,200 locations worldwide.
Shortly after Mother’s Day each year for the past four years I’ve received a phone call from one of our most successful franchisees, Ibrahim Choudhry, thanking me for convincing him to take over the Edible Arrangements location in Moreno Valley, California. That’s because for each of the past four years, his Moreno Valley store has been #1 in sales for the entire Edible Arrangements franchise system. The credit, however, goes to Ibrahim and what he has accomplished.
It is a story that is inspirational and an example of what a passionate and inspired leader such as Ibrahim can accomplish with an equally dedicated team. It is also one we can all learn from.
The story began five-and-half years ago. The Moreno Valley store had been closed for six months and the area around the store had been hit especially hard by the economic downturn. Several other Edible Arrangements franchisees had already turned down opportunities to take over the location when we approached Ibrahim about reopening it.
Ibrahim was no stranger to the location, having spent time with the original franchisee years earlier while still working for us as a trainer in the corporate office. And when the Moreno Valley location became available, he already had one successful turnaround to his credit.
Ibrahim had left his corporate position in 2009 to take over a closed location in Claremont, Calif., which he quickly turned into one of the most successful Edible Arrangements stores in the nation.
I traveled to California to visit with him about taking over a second failed location.
He was obviously concerned that other franchisees had already turned down opportunities to reopen the store. There was a lot of negative publicity to overcome from customers, from employees and even the government. A lot of people were owed money, but I told him I was convinced he could do it.
Ibrahim agreed to purchase the equipment and renegotiated the lease with the landlord in order not to take on more debt. Then he put all his effort into making the store a success.
He was in the store every day and he bombarded the area with marketing and publicity campaigns. For several months he had to pay rent and bills using income from his other store, but by the end of the first year the effort was paying off and the store was on its way to becoming a record-setter.
Today, Ibrahim has six successful Edible Arrangements locations in California, and all were either struggling or had closed outright when he took them over.
How does he do it?
“There are two things that I believe are critical to success,” he says.
“First, the owner has to have influence and a presence in the store — even if you have six of them. I make sure that I’m a very important part of each one of my businesses. I may not be taking orders or making deliveries, but I make sure my presence is felt at all my stores.
“Second, if you don’t accommodate people when they NEED you, such as the holidays, they certainly won’t want you tomorrow. When a holiday comes around, I push my team and myself to the limit. We try not to turn away a single customer because we know they need us. That has been the key to our success.”
And once again, that strategy has paid off with record sales for a store that only a few years ago was out of business.
Congratulations Ibrahim and thank you for being an inspiration to us all. I look forward to receiving many more phone calls in the coming years!