At Edible®, the foundation of our business is rooted in helping people celebrate life’s most special moments. For example, from birthdays and anniversaries to life’s important milestones like retirement or holiday get-togethers, we aim to help people cheer special moments with extra sweet memories and smiles! Equally important is how we work to celebrate these moments. Additionally, we pride ourselves on our entrepreneurial spirit and that same mindset resides with our franchise owners that provide those sweet treats in your community. As you acknowledge life’s special moments, we want to celebrate the special franchise owners that deliver the delicious fruits and sweets that our customers expect. Today, we want to celebrate Jim Echols and his Edible store in Charlotte, North Carolina!
Jim opened his Charlotte location in December 2006 and has been helping people in his local community celebrate all kinds of occasions for over 15 years! The team prides itself in delivering fruit arrangements and gifts that are always freshly-crafted using fruit that’s grown and picked to our Fruit Expert® standards. And, they have the best variety of gourmet chocolate Dipped Fruit™, too! Jim has led this Charlotte team to achieve a lot of success in the last year. He helped share his experience and leadership skills as he built a $1 million store. Congrats Jim!
What have you done differently this year versus last year to become a million-dollar store?
Of course, the past year has been unlike any other year we’ve experienced. We were fortunate that we didn’t have to close down any time during the year because we were identified as an essential business for food delivery, which was a key component to remaining open. However, during much of the year we didn’t have our storefront open for guests, so we tried to make sure that everyone knew we were open for business.
What have you done differently to engage with the community during the pandemic?
With many businesses closed or severely limiting services it was important to let the community know that we were there, open for business and ready to meet their personal or gifting needs. Combining the National Advertising with local efforts, utilizing social media marketing and local radio marketing, we emphasized our presence in the community.
How did you build your customer base?
With a focus on customer service, produce an exceptional product and go the extra mile to WOW our customers. We have some customers who have been with us since the beginning, 15 years ago. They come back because of the reaction they get when their gift is presented to their recipient and because of how they’re treated when we interact with them. Our goal is to treat everyone who comes across our path the same way.
What have been your most successful marketing tactics for Edible®?
Year after year I believe the quality of the product we put out is our best marketing tactic. Product quality includes our entire process, which starts with the first interaction a customer has with the Fruit Expert® through the delivery ambassadors final delivery step, while also including the details like logging the ticket so that the guest receives acknowledgement that the delivery has been made.
What kind of culture exists in how you run your store, and how did you establish it?
The culture starts with how we connect with our team. We’re family! We’ve got team members who have been with us for 14 years. On the other hand, we’ve got folks who joined us last week. If we treat them with respect and care about them we’ve seen them show respect and care for their coworkers as well as the customers and recipients that we interact with day to day.
What has been your most satisfying moment as an Edible® store owner?
In 2012, our store was honored to receive the WOW award at the convention in Orlando. That was a satisfying moment for sure, but the truly most satisfying moment came the next day when we were back in the store. We called a team meeting to fill the staff in on the learnings from the convention. At that time I was able to recognize the real recipients of that WOW award – the people who prep the fruit, design the arrangements, dip the chocolate, deliver the orders and greet the guest who call or come to see us. Without their efforts none of that would happen.
How do you define success in this industry (outside of financial)?
Happy customers and a reputation that your store is out to WOW their guest. At the end of the day if the recipient is happy then the sender is happy. We’ve paid special attention to any inquiries that might lead to a complaint. They are addressed immediately with the goal of them not reaching the level of a complaint. Our goal is no complaints.
A close second is that the staff sees this as a great place to work. We can’t always provide the pay or benefits that other jobs might offer but we can make it a place that everyone looks forward to being there.
What advice would you give to your fellow franchisee?
Remember the Pineapple Rule – Treat everyone like you’d want to be treated, only sweeter! This includes your staff as well as your customers and recipients. The customer isn’t always right but he is always the customer. He pays your salary. Remember – it’s just fruit!
Who, and what, has been your greatest inspiration?
For me personally it would be my mom and my wife. My dad passed when I was 9 years old leaving three kids at home to raise by herself. Her strength and grace have always been inspiring to me. Emma, my bride of 48 years (yes, she was a child bride) inspires me every day. Without her attention to detail our business would never have reached the level of success that we have.
From all of us at Edible®, thank you Jim for your dedication to executing our mission and taking pride in delivering WOW-worthy gifts to the people in your community!