As part of our Franchise Success Stories we asked Edible Arrangements franchisee and multi-location owner, Rich Lauria (Rochester, NY), to share a little bit about how he first became part of this incredible franchise system and what he has experienced as an Edible Arrangements owner over the years.
Please tell us a little bit about your history with Edible. How long have you been with the company?
I opened my first Edible® franchise in 2005 in a suburb of Rochester New York, and since have opened 5 additional locations in Rochester. That first store was number 95 in a franchise system that has grown to over 1200 stores. 13 years ago the Edible® brand and concept were unknown both locally and around the country, so the initial challenge was to build an awareness of our unique products.
What first attracted you to becoming a business owner with Edible? What makes franchise businesses like yours different from traditional SMBs?
Edible® was a healthy and unique new concept that seemed to fit well for all-occasion gifting. It presented a great opportunity for us to become the sole franchise partner in the Rochester DMA. As a franchise we are part of a larger system that extended our reach nationwide. Our customers order gifts for friends or relatives anywhere in the country and are assured a uniform selection of products and similar level of service. The franchisor drives national marketing, product innovation, technology development, and operational processes.
What’s the biggest change over the past five years that has impacted the way you market to prospective customers?
The rapid move away from traditional media as a source of entertainment toward online entertainment has had a profound impact on how we connect with our customers. And for those who still engage traditional media, typically with their smartphone close by, it is highly likely that their attention is elsewhere during commercial breaks further diluting the effectiveness of those advertising dollars. In the past few years we have also become more focused on managing our online reputation, which continues to become increasingly critical to success as buyers look to the experience of others before making a purchase.
From a digital marketing perspective, what role has online marketing played in helping you reach new customers?
Digital marketing has moved to the forefront as THE most important element of our strategy for engaging customers. Social media, search engine marketing, targeted display ads, and email campaigns coupled with capabilities like geofencing, demographic targeting, and social conquesting have given us a tremendous advantage in reaching the right audience with our message.
As you look forward, what are you most focused on when it comes to growing your business?
We will continue to build our online presence and look for new ways to engage current and potential new customers. Our product line has expanded to include a wide array of everyday “treats” like fresh fruit smoothies, froyo, and a variety of chocolate dipped fruit treats. Our objective is to evolve from occasion-based gifting option to more of an everyday gifting and “treat yourself” option. Guests who come into our stores love our treats and have an opportunity to see and smell a wide variety of delicious hand-crafted products.
Generally speaking, we can’t do everything ourselves so it’s important to choose the right partners to maximize our success. We’re fortunate to have built several longstanding relationships (such as our produce supplier who has been with us for over a decade). LOCALACT is relatively new for us, but the team has taken a genuine interest in the success of our business and works alongside us to maximize the return on our digital marketing budget.