From Jim Wheeler to Franchisees

March 13, 2012's me, Jim Wheeler, President & CEO of Candy Bouquet International.
First of all let me thank you for your 2011 purchase of over $1200 of Candy Bouquet products!!  Thank you, and please let us serve you for additional Candy Bouquet products when you need it.  Also, if you've come across any additional products that you'd like us to carry- chocolate, candy or accessory - please let us know.  After consolidating our previous inventory down by about 50%, we're now filling our 30,000 square foot warehouse with products at volume discounts, to provide savings to our Franchisees from what they can usually buy from vendors.  We are negotiating to carry "Fun Candy" from Hershey and Mars, although getting a discount on these name brands is proving a bit challenging, even at our volume!  However, we've added other chocolates, other candies and novelty items, and have recently closed a deal with Burton and Burton to get more baskets and containers directly shipped from their manufacturers in China.  THis agreement gives us the benefits of direct container-sized shipping from China, but without the expense of having our own factory or agents physically placed there.   For any other details regarding our expanding product lines, contact your Customer Service Representative; if you don't have one assigned yet, speak to David who is heading up that division in addition to his Warehouse responsibilities.
Keep an eye out on the website's Franchisee Center for news from David for monthly discounts and specials, too.  Our first few since we came on board have been well received, it seems!
You should have received an email from me in December outlining the first few changes since we took over.  Things have been going well since then, too.  So far for 2012:
   - We've added 7 more Franchisees, several more than have had to close their doors as the recovery from the Great Recession continues.  It is a priority for us to help those in danger of closing; please refer anyone you're aware of in this danger directly to me, please.
   - We've tripled our Trainers, and increased training time by about 25%.  Each class has a 'Valedictorian' complete with degree!  We've modeled training after that of a college - calling it "Universe(ity) of Candy Bouquet"; each day is another progression from Freshman through Senior, than 
          Graduate on Day 5!  In that theme, we're offering a Master's program of a day or two of additional training with Mary Jane Allen (CBI # 423) or Kelly Warden (CBI #6350).  And at the highest level of training, we're offering a WEEK of on-the-hip one-on-one training with Mary Jane
          or Kelly, for which Franchisees will be awarded the coveted doctorate from Candy Bouquet, the "Can.D."!!  We also completed training for one Franchisee who had missed out on the advantage of training in Little Rock itself - with great success!
   - We've built a Home-Based Simulator in the Warehouse, so Trainees can see suggested ways to set up their workstation at home.  And we're building a simulated Storefront right in the Training Room, for those going right to Storefront mode.
   - We've added more products made during training (including soda glasses, cupcakes, ganache boxes, cakes, and logo business cup bouquet), added prizes for individual efforts, added more business training including marketing and advertising strategies, and a commitment to 
         ongoing support after graduation.  These training changes were among the most adamant suggestions I received from Franchisees upon acquiring the company.....I listened, and it's a lot better, thanks to All!
   - Each of our Customer Service Representatives (CSR's; David, Jacquie and Carrie) are contacting Franchisees individually, as I am, to see what we can do to help them.  I have personally contacted 20% of all Franchisees as of this writing, several many times!
   - We've hired Emily back to full time, and she is heading the new Website renovation, the new major Website overhaul slated to open within the year, and the new Social Networking programs.  "Like" us on Facebook, please!  We are now consistently number 1 on Google for the 
          search term "candy bouquet", so our SEO is much improved.
   - I've contacted a handful of 'copycat' companies, and asked them to cease and desist their copying of Candy Bouquet designs and logos; serving as In House Counsel with a law degree has helped this process a lot!  This helps preserve the value of the Candy Bouquet brand to you, and us.
   - We've initiated supplying Candy Bouquets to Barter organizations as a model for our Franchisees to improve market awareness of our product; we bartered hundreds of bouquets in Little Rock for valuable 'barter bucks' which we can now use to buy products and services the
         Company would otherwise have to purchase.  And now, we're following up with every company that chose a Candy Bouquet to see when they'd like to order there next one, or one hundred!
   - We've developed a more standardized Franchisee pricing schedule, again, to preserve the value of the business you have purchased.
   - We've begun a National Corporation Sales campaign, presenting Corporate Bouquet options to major hotel groups and businesses.  We have successfully sold Holiday Inn, and will be attempting to export this to our Franchisees locally very soon.  We're in negotiation with another hotel
         group, a major insurance company, a major freight carrier and a large hospital gift shop company.  The idea is to improve the presence and awareness of our product in the marketplace....once someone sees a Candy Bouquet, they want one!  This campaign is a combination of
         a national sales program and by virtue of getting our product out there, a national marketing program, too.
   - We have started a new program of helping busy Franchisees with their big holiday orders.  The first two Franchisees (one in AR, one in TX) that we assisted by making Bouquets for them that they were unable to due to time constraints, each sold dozens more than they otherwise 
         would have had time to create themselves.  Congrats to them, and their banker!
   - We are building an Assembly Line in Little Rock to provide these surplus orders to our Franchisees.  And we've developed a new business line in which we will supply complete Bouquets to people who wish to display and sell them, but not make them personally; the first two Franchisees
          availing themselves of this program are in Alaska and Kansas - each of which has ordered hundreds of Bouquets from Little Rock.  Our existing Franchisees will ALWAYS have our first priority in supplying Bouquets, and our existing Franchisees will ALWAYS have their exclusivity
          rights in their territory per their contract; we are simply covering excess needs, to everyone's benefit, like an umbrella policy covers a homeowner's insurance policy in excess.
   - We have initiated a computerized TV digital advertising program, showcasing it in our Training Room and in our two professor Franchisees' storefronts, in which continuous ads play across a HD TV; these ads are easily entered from HQ, or by the Franchisee, or both; extra
          advertising time on the TV can be sold by the Franchisee to neighboring businesses, or can be donated to announce school and church events!   Very this century, and very cost effective.  We are adding this to our Training package, and you'll hear more once we study it better.
   - We've had four consultants come through HQ, hired to improve computing and business practices.  Thanks to them, we're making some much needed improvements in both.
What do these new changes mean for you????   I never mind that question, and I fully anticipate it and embrace it with you as the most important question to be directed to any Company's CEO.  My answer:
1. We will continue to strive to bring you quality products, with a much broader offering of gift baskets, balloons, plush and other gift items, at a cost savings compared to other vendors available to you.  We intend to strengthen the system of Candy Bouquet International.
2. We intend to drive more business your way, through our National Corporate Sales program, revising our marketing and advertising, and renovating our Website and Social Network presence.  We will strengthen the service of Candy Bouquet International.
3. We pledge to greatly improve the home office support of existing Franchisees as our TOP priority, concomitant with our developing supporting lines of business like the Corporate Sales program, the Assembly Line excess supply program, the development of "Bouquet Salespersons" like
    Tupperware ladies and Avon ladies of old for whom we ship whole Bouquets by the dozens, the participation with Barter Exchanges, and even the sale of individual Bouquets from HQ.  We will increase support from Candy Bouquet International to our Franchisees.
Candy Bouquet International:   Combining a 20 year old System with new Service and Support for our Franchisees!!
A Successful and Healthy Franchisor makes for Successful and Healthy Franchisees......We're all in the same great big retail/gift/chocolate & candy boat together!!!  It will work best if we all row in the same direction!
Finally, allow me to invite you to our tentatively planned Convention in Little Rock, November 2-4, 2012, at the Presidential Holiday Inn.  This has been the number one request of all the Franchisees I've spoken with, asking for the opportunity to share our ideas and programs.  Then, in the fall of 2013, we're planning an even bigger convention, probably in Las Vegas.   But for now,  mark your calendar for this November if you can possibly join us!  We'll have excellent speakers, workshop leaders, business consultants....and healthy Warehouse discounts, too.
The topics above are among the most important we've been working on.  I didn't highlight the facelift we're planning on for our Warehouse exterior, or the improvement of staff offices, or the hiring/re-deployment of existing staff to improve service to you, the Franchisee.  Nor did I focus on the few sticky situations I inherited from which we're escaping just fine....Candy Bouquet will continue to benefit from housing a lawyer intramurally.  Staff attitude is improved; processes are getting streamlined.  Hang in there with us, as we grow into the Candy Bouquet Universe together!
Please contact me with any particular needs you have, or ideas you have, or products you'd like us to look into.  I've also been touched that about 10% of all the Franchisees sent me and my family a simple "Welcome" email once we started this job four months ago.  
Thanks for all you've done, and are doing, and finally will do for Candy Bouquet.  You will hear from me again, as you will from your Corporate Headquarters.  We're sorry for prior frustrations....we're on our way to serve you Better!
Dr. Jim Wheeler, Esq.
President & CEO
Candy Bouquet International, Inc.