Over the years, I discovered one of the most important ingredients to poise your brand for greatness. Best of all it is simple: Start with a product or service that people will truly love.
However, when you are starting a business that is often easier to say than do. So, here’s an inside look at how this important ‘love’ lesson was practically applied while growing Edible Arrangements from $0 to $500 million.
Business ‘Love’ Lessons Learned
When Edible Arrangements debuted, it was the launch of a product and a service – for this article, I’ll focus on product. From the very beginning, we believed that the only way to create a fresh fruit arrangement was to use the freshest, highest quality fruit. No additives, no preservatives—ever. This was our fresh fruit mantra … our focus. (Important lesson: Find your focus.)
I’m sure you have purchased fruit from a local store or market. Sometimes it’s great, other times, it’s not so good. So, how do you have the best fruit all of the time? We started by experimenting, literally tasting every type of fruit variety.
If you know me personally, you also know I love to eat, so as a founder (and foodie) I was up to the challenge. But it wasn’t just about standard basics (i.e., flavor), it was also color and size. Once we narrowed down our product offering to specific types of fruit we were ready to go.
Then we started to expand … first opening 10, then 50, and then over 100 stores per year. To hold true to our fruit quality roots we worked closely with franchisees and their fruit distributors across North America to ensure consistent quality. This required an unparalleled attention to detail on a daily basis. At the same time it was really tempting to cut costs, especially as you’re growing your business. But our commitment to our products and our customers never wavered.
“It can be really tempting to cut costs, especially as you’re growing your business. But our commitment to our products and our customers never wavered.”
But then we hit a peak period and faced paying peak fruit prices. While not identical, this is a similar type of market challenge your company will likely face. My response was to create a unique partnership in the produce industry. We decided to work directly with the growers to grow the quality of fruit we needed and then have it distributed to our stores. By continuously evolving our approach to sourcing we never had to change our brand promise — a fresh fruit promise.
With the many relationships you’ll form in business there is one that’s difficult to control and that’s the one with Mother Nature. However, by creating deep connections in the growing fields, we were able to minimize the impact of uncontrollable business factors (i.e., poor weather conditions) and continue to wow our customers every single day.
So, the brand ‘love’ lesson (along with many others I’ve divulged here) is this: When it comes to your product, determine what you stand for right from the very beginning. Then, constantly evolve to ensure you can consistently live up to your promise.
Note: As a founder I find it amazing how lessons in business can also relate to your personal life. (Don’t tell my wife. She thinks I come up with this stuff on my own). When you make a commitment in business, and in life, you need to work on it every day. Personal relationships must evolve just as much as business relationships.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kamran Farid is the co-founder and former Chief Operating Officer of Edible Arrangements® International, the creators of fresh fruit bouquets and fruit hand dipped in gourmet chocolate. Over fifteen years he was instrumental in growing the brand from one store in East Haven, Connecticut to over 1,300 stores in 14 countries and counting. Farid has a depth of expertise in building a brand from infancy into a global powerhouse. His newest venture, Kamran Capital Group, aims to help small businesses grow smarter. Connect with @kamranf on Twitter.