Tariq Farid started out as a 17-year-old florist helping out with the family business.
Now, he is one of America’s outstanding examples of entrepreneurship and excellence in franchising.
As the founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements, Tariq pioneered a fresh new business concept despite facing overwhelming dismissiveness and nay-saying. The first Edible Arrangements location was a modest little nook located inside the family flower shop. When Tariq approached banks for a $75,000 loan to open his first standalone Edible Arrangements store, he was denied by three different banks. He built up the store himself, bit by bit – whenever he had enough money to build a new piece, he did it.
Now, Edible Arrangements is an immensely popular chain, with 1200+ locations around the world.
So what are some of the secrets to Tariq’s impressive successes? I sat down with him for my live Business Brilliant interview series with The Business Owners Council to find out.
Here are a two of Tariq’s biggest tips:
Invest in technology and build your own where you can. Creating fruit arrangements by hand is incredibly time-intensive. In order to increase the number of sales he could do in a day, Tariq needed to automate. There weren’t any technologies currently available to fit his needs since his store was the first of its kind. “It’s not like Subway is doing subs, and Blimpies comes around and kind of tweaks it a bit. That’s the thing we had to work on, a lot of automation. We started to create all of our own technology, and lay the groundwork,” he told me.
His background in IT came in handy – Tariq ended up creating many of the automation technologies his business needed to run smoothly, including patented training terminals located in each store. Edible Arrangements uses its own POS system and digital menus, created through another of Tariq’s companies called Netsolace. Another spin-off company sells the same technology to other franchises.
Which brings us to his second tip:
Create your own business ecosystem. Tariq draws a lot of inspiration from companies like Google and Apple that have created their own business ecosystems containing different entities that complement and support each other and deliver amazing value to the brand. “Every wedge within those ecosystems is actually making money,” he explains. “Apple created a device that you can have apps on, they’ll sell you the language the app is written with, and then they make money every time the app is sold, every time a transaction is done, and every time advertising happens.”
With Edible Arrangements, Tariq isn’t content just to make amazing fruit arrangements that wow his customers – he wants to increase his ownership of different aspects of the business, and find new areas to expand into that will deliver more to the bottom line. Currently, he has founded or is involved with 11 different companies that make up the Edible Arrangements ecosystem, with each contributing a piece of the puzzle.
“The only reason we got away with not having any debt is that when we needed baskets, we started our own basket company. When we needed the phone, we created our own phone company. When we needed credit card clearing, we created our own company to do credit card clearing for our franchisees. When we needed technology, I created a company that built it and sold it to the franchisees,” he explains. “Today, we own a $60 million company called Berry Direct which does all the supply chain for skewers, and there’s an innovation team working on patented skewers on IP within that entity.” Today, four of Tariq’s 11 companies not only supply technology to Edible Arrangements but to outside clients as well.
By thinking beyond the fruit basket and exploring new territories, Tariq has become an inspiring success story and a great example of innovative entrepreneurship.