How to help a franchisee bloom? For Edible Arrangements, the secret’s in software
Edible Arrangements will see a whole lot of red this Valentine’s Day weekend, but that means more green for the 1,037-location franchise organization—close to 96 million strawberries (chocolate or otherwise) will be delivered in the name of love.
Indeed, some of the fresh fruit bouquet company’s most successful locations will generate 20% to 25% of their annual sales this week alone. Some will quadruple the number of vans they dispatch to make sure all that artistically arranged fruit makes it to your doorstep without spoiling or freezing.
Software developed and supplied by the Edible Arrangements parent organization—especially mobile dispatch apps that will orchestrate at least half of orders this year—will play a central role in whether or not franchisees manage those extra sales profitably. And now, the company’s founder and CEO Tariq Farid plans to share his technology secrets with other franchise organizations.
“We want franchisees to focus on selling the products, not on how they train people. Quite simply, technology enables them to be far more efficient,” said Farid, who opened the first Connecticut store in 1999. Last December, the organization ranked No. 40 on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of Top 500 franchise companies.
Technology has been an Edible Arrangements differentiator for close to a decade: Farid recalls meeting with consultants who questioned the viability of his model but then offered abundant praise for its technology-driven processes. Now, he plans to let other franchise organizations in on the action. Last year, the entrepreneur bought the company behind the software that Edible Arrangements owners use to run their businesses—everything from video training modules that help standardize processes to point-of-sale and sales management systems.
Farid’s technology spinout, called Naranga, is pitching templates for these applications to other big franchise organizations, along with restaurants or retailers with multiple locations to manage. There are 10 clients on board so far using various components, although he’s not naming names.
“People haven’t looked at things from the franchisee’s point of view: they are not sitting at their desk or surfing online for two hours a day,” Farid said. “They are on their feet running around their store, running errands. The one thing they don’t have is time. So the technology has to be super-focused on that.”
Edible Arrangements even distributes all its franchise documents and guidelines on computers or tablets, rather than sending out sheaves of paper every week that quickly become outdated. This helps it distribute information more quickly, plus it can tell which owners are making use of information and it can test them about their knowledge. Plus, when someone leaves the fold, this strategy helps ensure confidential documents are less likely to leave as well.
“At times, the biggest issue for an franchisor is security,” Farid said. “The day you leave, you have to give it all back.”
This item first appeared in the Feb. 13 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.