Prep Work Helps Edible Recover From Sandy
One week after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, Edible Arrangements still has about 30 stores closed, mostly in New Jersey. But the operator is recovering more quickly than it would have, CEO Tariq Farid says, thanks to a detailed disaster recovery plan his management team put in place last year. "The credit goes to our head of operations, and our management team, because they did a great job of monitoring this," he said. "In any crisis you have to have a crisis plan."
Edible Arrangements, which sells fruit and food bouquets, is headquartered in Connecticut. The corporate office wasn't damaged, but many staffers lost power at their homes and couldn't get to work because of fallen trees. Staffers sat in their cars, plugging in cell phones to charge them and taking phone calls to help franchisees and customers. There are about 150 Edible Arrangements stores in New York and New Jersey, the hardest-hit areas. As the storm approached, customers who had ordered online were contacted to warn of possible delivery changes, and once the storm did its damage employees worked to divert orders to stores that remained open.
Farid says they've built a new distribution center on the East Coast to get certain goods faster to stores than the existing distibutor in California could. They made the move after several storms, including a major snowstorm this past fall, harmed the operation. "In the Northeast you always have challenges, such as Valentine's Day being a make-or-break holiday for our franchisees," he said. "So you have to have policies in place to show how you handle it. Those procedures help in times like this, where at least we had considered the worst-case scenario."
"They've been phenomenal," Farid said about the company's franchisees. "Some of our franchisees face water damage, and they've already got construction lined up. So even before the power returned, they're planning to dig out of it."
He's concerned about the franchisees, not corporate revenue, he says. "I am more nervous about the livelihood of those small-business owners, those small franchisees. For them I know their lives are upside down. Not only did they lose a business, but the whole area's economy is upside down. It's really hard to quantify right now because it still continues. We just hope that they get their lives back in order quickly."
"Overall as they're fine, we'll do better because we depend on our franchisees. But they're probably in a much more dire situation than we are. We are just praying for them," he says.