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WALLINGFORD, Conn. – Edible Arrangements’ CEO Tariq Farid dismissed the notion that the majority of his franchise owners were unhappy during a court-ordered settlement meeting last month.The independent franchisee association that sued him, now with over 200 franchise members, says the founder is wrong. And they have the documents that prove it.
In an effort to get an accurate reading of dissatisfied store owners, representatives of the EA Independent Franchisee Association wasted no time in devising the Edible Arrangements Franchisee Satisfaction Survey. The inquiries ranged from how happy franchisees are with their own profitability to how satisfied they are with recent mandates, including extending store operating hours. The questionnaire was sent out to 820 U.S. store owners. Over a one-month period, 308 surveys were returned, of which 70% were not members of the independent association.
Now in addition to preparing for trial to prove their allegations that Edible Arrangements altered the business arrangement to the detriment of its franchisees, the association also has the results of the survey which they presented to company officials last week.
It is a survey that shows that a large group of store owner-operators think the franchising firm is increasingly making unwise retail choices, cutting into the franchisees’ profitability.
Dear Edible Arrangements International Executive Management Team:
Attached please find the results of a recent Owner Satisfaction Survey. This survey was developed following Tariq's indication at the June Settlement Hearing that he was not aware of any significant dissatisfaction amongst the Edible Arrangements franchisees. Please note that the majority of respondents to this survey are not EAIFA members.
This survey is a testament to the dissatisfaction shared by a majority of Edible Arrangements owners.
As the official voice of the Edible Arrangements franchise community, we encourage you to review and take the appropriate corrective actions.
Linda Morris Belford, Sherri Vertorano, Ken Ruginis, on behalf of EAIFA
P.S. SurveyMonkey.com, a legitimate online research tool, was utilized for survey data collection and analysis. You can be confident that the data integrity is 100% verifiable.
EA Independent Franchisees Association, LLC
Representing More than 200 Edible Arrangements Store Locations
To date, the association has not received any response from their franchisor. Members affirm that Tariq Farid firmly believes that a majority of his system is happy and content.
Sherri Vertorano said she personally was not surprised by the results of the survey. “Being an active owner of my store and president of our association, I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of franchisees. Non-members share the same frustrations, concerns and dissatisfaction as our members,” she said.
Vertorano reiterated that EAIFA generated the survey in response to Tariq's claims that he was unaware of any dissatisfaction. “The survey results show the opposite of what he claims. It speaks volumes,” she said.
Is the survey program credible?
“As to Survey Monkey's credibility, it is considered the world’s leading provider of web-based survey solutions and trusted by millions of companies--including Edible Arrangements International,” the association president explained. She emphasized, “It's important to point out that our survey response rate exceeds the statistically significant 95% confidence level based upon standard statistical analysis.”
The company stated that it did not wish to respond to the results presented to them by the franchisees and their association. They continue to stand by their original statement issued to Blue MauMau regarding the lawsuit. They disagree with EAIFA’s characterization of the facts and conclusions and plan to defend the complaint vigorously. They previously stated, “Since its inception, our main objective has been and always will be to continuously improve the business opportunity for our franchisees and the customer experience.”
Regarding the survey, attorney Justin M. Klein of Marks & Klein, representing the association would only say, “It shows that the franchisee community is unhappy on lots of levels, which of course is the purpose of the litigation.”
One industry insider gave his viewpoint of SurveyMonkey and other similar services that offer survey tools. Eric Stites of Franchise Business Review said there are a lot of services available to franchisees for collecting data and for strengthening their position in a dispute. “It’s probably valid information, but it depends on how they plan to use it. Some will dismiss it and question the methodology and process,” Stites said. He explained that if they used a third party to perform the survey, even a consultant, it would give the results more credibility.
The value that a company like his brings to the table is in benchmarking the data received. “Anybody can do a survey. There are many free services that offer survey tools for organizations that want to collect feedback from their constituents. But being able to benchmark it against a large database of similar groups is what is important,” Stites explained.
The Edible Arrangements Franchisee Satisfaction Survey is attached.