Continuing Support and Education
A Retail Franchise Opportunity with Built-In Support? Sign Me Up!
Get the most out of your retail franchise opportunity—and continue to grow a strong business—with our many support resources. Owning a boutique comes with varied challenges each day, from the moment you start looking for locations, as you bring in new inventory every week, and throughout the life of your business.
We support all our franchisees with the training, products, technology, and marketing assistance that they need to build their businesses with confidence. When you join the Apricot Lane family, you will always have the support you need to accomplish your goals.
Location, Location, Location
Nobody does it like we do! Location and fit are so important that we come out to meet you and spend a day getting to know each other while also meeting with leasing representatives and touring potential locations that we research prior to the visit. This initial visit is at our expense and before a franchise is even awarded because fit and location are really that important to us and you!
We combine what we learn together with custom modeling to determine the best trade areas and sites for an Apricot Lane store(s). It is truly an exercise of art and science to help us determine the best location. Get all the details here!
Once a location is secured, you will be given a very detailed and comprehensive Countdown Chart that details everything that must get done by your opening date. It assigns who is responsible, when it needs to be accomplished, and references our Operations Manual for background information. A weekly conference call together checking off our progress together ensures nothing is falling through the cracks—that reassurance allows you and us to sleep at night!
Plans, Construction, and Buildout
We outsource your plans and construction management to Kevin Winn, "The Plans Guy", while overseeing your progress. Kevin is not a licensed architect, which saves you money. If an architect or engineer is required, Kevin will make those arrangements. He has been doing Apricot Lane plans for years and you couldn't be in better hands nor have to worry about where to find the resources to get your store planned and built.
Store Design Options
We give you a choice of design options, color pallets, and fixtures all packaged together with the ability to add some of your own unique options. Each Apricot Lane Boutique is "unique"—so it's NOT our way or the highway! We want you to be part of this process—you WON'T get a store in a box.
Technology and Systems Support
Your point of sale (POS) system is the engine that drives your retail business.
When you become an Apricot Lane Boutique franchisee, you can be confident that your POS is of the highest caliber. We have been working with our POS provider, POSIM since 1991. This relationship brings discounts, custom reports, very low payment processing rates, and opportunities not available to any other retailer, big or small. Even better, this system is powerful and easy to learn—we train your sales staff in half a day!
Download & review the brochure [RF1] to learn more about the features and benefits. Then kick back and relax because we have you covered when it comes to using the latest technology in retail.
DOWNLOAD THE POSIM BROCHURE
To keep training, communications, and integration all Apricot Lane Boutiques use Apple computers. This also gives us the ability to log into your system remotely—and securely—to assist you, so technical support is just a phone call away!
Bookkeeping – Ceterus
Ceterus will have viewable access to your checking, credit cards, payroll company, and POS system. All you need to do is write checks, charge on your credit card, make sales, call in your payroll hours, and Ceterus takes care of all the rest! Monthly profit and loss statements and a financial dashboard keeps you on top of the financial health of your business. Whew, what a relief!
Ceterus provides a custom-designed bookkeeping platform complete with:
· Dynamic profit & loss and balance sheet
· Non-financial metric reporting
· Single sign on for multi-store franchisees
· Updated monthly and on-time; including sales tax reporting
· Bank and credit card coding
· Payroll entries, and
· Account reconciliations
We think Ceterus is a great solution (that’s why we chose them!) but you don’t have to take our word for it. Read some of the reviews we have gotten from happy franchise owners.
"I would like to give you an initial report on the CETERUS service, and thank you for recommending them to me. They have just completed the initial "on-boarding" of my financial records, and I am sure they are now saying they didn't charge me enough. They provide me with significant detail on payroll and tie my cost of goods sold to the actual sales. We track all of our inventory as an asset account that matches physical inventory. We have proper accounting for the gift card liability as well as the anticipated sales tax payable charged in the month the liability is created. These and other improvements make the financials much more accurate and helpful.
All in all, this has been an excellent experience and well worth the money they charge. I look forward to the comparative reports that should be available as more franchisees come on board."
Apricot Lane Boutique - North Charleston, SC
"I just wanted to thank you for the introduction to Ceterus and Jonathan Martin, exactly what a franchisee needs...I am VERY excited about the service they provide."
Apricot Lane Boutique - Southlake, TX
Buying Shows and Continuing Education
In February and August, we attend the apparel shows at Magic in Las Vegas, in addition to our Continuing Education convention in October at the Dallas Mart. We continue to do networking and webinars, as well as continuing ongoing training on a regular basis. We are all never done learning!
Buying, Brands, and Merchandise Plan
One of the big benefits of our franchise is the buying flexibility we give you to cater to your local customer with the brands you and your customer are looking for. That flexibility really is our strength. Instead of us telling you what you can and can’t carry, we take the pressure off and just let you enjoy the fun of buying!
When you first walk into an Apricot Lane Boutique, you'll quickly notice the merchandise mix and selection. Buying is an extremely important factor that will attract and delight your local customers and keep them coming back! Additionally, we support you in your own individual store buying. Apricot Lane stays on top of the trends and new emerging brands to make sure we are the go-to place for the hottest new looks.
We buy broad and shallow. Our customers know that if they don't buy it now, it won't be here next week. New merchandise arrives weekly. We know what is selling in our stores across the country and will work with you to create a comprehensive Merchandise Plan that will ensure the right mix of categories with applicable budgets. In addition, you will have access to our exclusive buyer in the Los Angeles Fashion District to get first run merchandise that typically is taken up by the large chains and department stores. Your local boutique competitors will be buying second-fourth run cuts once they become available on fashion wholesale sites. We are long gone and onto the next 1st run cut—well ahead of the local competition!
Not only do we get our stores the first run of merchandise, we also negotiate discounts via our LA buyer. Through our time in the industry, we have developed many relationships and discounts, as well as priority and easy ordering with many brands. In addition, we assist you in acquiring dealerships for branded vendors that are available in your area.
On top of it all, our franchisees get hands-on buying support that continues through your post-opening training for as long as you need it. Buying support includes detailed reports analyzing what is selling, what needs to be moved or featured, and what you should order to help you learn what works best for your store. Finally, system wide monthly conference calls are a great resource where your fellow franchisees share what is selling across the country and regionally, giving you insight and ideas for your own franchise.
Visual Merchandising Support
A complete and comprehensive visual merchandising manual will provide you will the tools to create beautiful visual displays. In addition, our staff visual merchandiser is available anytime for FaceTime to look at your displays and provide assistance. Our resources and support are available to work with your talented team member who is gifted in display to ensure an ongoing beautiful and compelling experience for your customers.
When deciding on the appearance of your store, you will have choices of approved looks and will also be able to pick out many pieces to show your own personality and reflect your marketplace and make the most of this retail franchise opportunity.
Our buying department and professional merchandiser work diligently to make sure we have a great mix of apparel, jewelry, accessories, and gifts along with great fixtures and unique decor to show your merchandise in the best possible way.
Hiring Stylists and Staffing
The quality of your staff is critical to your success. We pour into resources essential to developing your team. We hire and train "Stylists" who know how to outfit your customers, work a dressing room, and create lasting customer relationships. Programs established and refined over the past 24 years are at your fingertips, including a comprehensive customer service module consisting of videos and development guides; job descriptions and hiring processes; sample schedules; orientation program and a complete automated staff development program that tracks your staffs progress and scores.
In-House Ad Agency and Marketing Support
We have an in-house advertising agency to meet your marketing, social media, and public relation needs complete with custom fulfillment to meet your local needs. You will be working closely with this department to promote the Apricot Lane Boutique brand while maximizing your visibility to your customers and local community. You will get a complete rundown of all our marketing resources and the technology to plan and complete your marketing and social media strategies.
With cost-effective advertising materials and campaigns, you will be able to maintain a consistent brand and image. These campaigns include consulting, conceptual development, graphic design services, and training to all store owners/managers. We are constantly trying to stay on top and ahead of the tech curve with all the latest ways you can promote your store.
The goal is to provide your store with the resources you need to effectively drive sales. Major seasonal campaigns, secondary and ongoing promotions, email campaigns, acquisition, and loyalty programs all help you increase sales and traffic. The latest best practices in social media help us keep our store owners updated when changes happen, which is especially useful in driving your business.
Social Media and More
When you invest in our retail franchise opportunity, you don’t have to be an expert in every facet of business ownership. Apricot Lane members get to join an exclusive Facebook group called M.O.B.S—marketing, merchandising, operations, buying, and social media. This private group is where owners and store managers (and anyone else you employ who should have access) can pick up tips and tricks posted by the different departments of headquarters. It's also for the store owners to ask questions of each other and share their own experiences of what is (or isn't) working for them.
We also like to share and feature what all the stores have been up to, as well as their posts of tv interviews, live feeds, and photos they have taken that really stand out.
The M.O.B.S group is also a place where we make announcements for important upcoming events like the release of a new seasonal campaign or webinars to show you how to implement these campaigns in your store, among other in-depth training sessions.
This is the Apricot Lane Boutique marketing resources website. We developed this site to make it easier for our stores to plan and order marketing campaigns and programs 24/7. It is set up just like an e-commerce site, so it is intuitive and easy to navigate, making ordering any of our marketing materials simple.
We replenish our campaigns on a regular basis, in addition to maintaining a library of general marketing and photographic resources that you may need throughout the year or for a custom project.
Social media and email play a big part in how the stores effectively build and maintain top-of-mind awareness. For this, we have Boutique Window which is a centralized hub for you to schedule, send emails, and post to the social channels all in one place.
Not only is all of the Apricot Lane graphic content available online, but Boutique Window boasts a very content rich library of graphics of its own, all available to our store owners for use.
Other features include:
· Image library for storing all merchandise pictures so you can post or feature in an email
· Email builder that links directly to MailChimp which in turn links directly to your POS system, automatically downloading all of your customer emails to its database (so you don’t have to run reports just to gain access to your customer's emails)
· Graphic Designer to create your own social posts and email graphics.
We provide a full training to the person (or persons) you have chosen to handle this aspect of your marketing and will provide follow-ups when necessary to make sure they have a complete understanding of this tool.
On top of everything from Boutique Window, our in-house design team also provides custom signage/graphics that you may need for your own special promotions that you may be running during the year. We also provide assistance and support with your advertising strategy and budget.
RightNow Media Resource
Our vision is to always be the leading women's fashion boutique franchise while making a positive impact in the lives of people. We say "people" because that means not just our franchisees, but also our staff, the local communities surrounding every Apricot Lane Boutique, and people around the world through our non-profit, 3Strands.
In addition to the work we do with our non-profit, we provide a free opt-in subscription of RightNow Media @ Work to every franchisee, staff, and all their families. “The Netflix of faith-based videos” gives franchisees access to over 5,000 videos that you can access whenever and wherever you want—on your phone, iPad, computer, or at home on your TV.
This isn’t just a retail franchise opportunity; we are dedicated to improving the lives of our franchise owners. A key part of that is that we feel it is important to keep your priorities straight, even when owning your own business, which is why we provide access to this important resource. RightNow Media @ Work has videos for everyone—kids, youth, parents, married couples, college students, single adults, working professionals—all aimed at helping you grow.
A Private Intranet
Franchisees are given access to our proprietary online password-protected resource library that includes:
· Confidential Apricot Lane Operations Manuals—always updated and available for download
· Video library covering selling, customer service, and store operations
· Library of recorded Apricot Lane continuing education webinar
· Automated assigned staff development and training program
· Sales competencies that lead to selling better and selling more
· Customer Service Modules: The Apricot Lane way of setting targets and incentives
· Leveraging networks to proactively drive revenue
· Developing powerful promotions
· Hiring outstanding talent
· Leveraging social media
In addition to all the available intranet resources, you will have unlimited FREE on-call executive consulting available to assist franchisees and managers with a range of needs relative to human resources, store performance, employee performance and development, finances and cash flow, marketing and other support consults to help facilitate outstanding results.
We pay all costs associated with these resources, because we are committed to supporting our franchisees. We work toward our vision of building a truly extraordinary company that makes a positive impact in people’s lives.
A Shopping Experience
At Apricot Lane, we pride ourselves in providing the best customer experience in retail fashion. We evaluate this with a custom mystery shopping program, scheduled FaceTime walk-throughs of your store, customer surveys, and field visits anytime upon request.
After you open up your Apricot Lane Boutique and build a customer base and social following, there are other sales opportunities to consider! Besides selling on Facebook, Instagram, other social media, we offer an exclusive e-Commerce Website program that qualified stores can use to operate and manage an online store. Sales are no longer limited to your brick and mortar store; you can bring this retail franchise opportunity online as well!
Our customized platform enables you to feature and sell all your fashion categories. It will require effort and investment to drive traffic to the site and managing all aspects of a successful online presence, but the payoff can be significant. After you are approved for our e-commerce program, you will soon have a beautiful website, complete with a responsive design that enables customers to shop from their computers, tablets or mobile devices.
The best part is that the online store is easy to use. You'll be ordering, receiving, and photographing all new merchandise that will be uploaded and entered directly into the intuitive admin section or dashboard of the web site platform. In addition, inventory management, receiving, order fulfillment, sales tracking and reporting, website analysis, and customer service are just a few of the other areas that will keep you and your assigned staff and experts busy selling online.
Monthly Conference Calls
We hold monthly conference calls with all of our stores. During these calls, we cover LA buying, best sellers, marketing, social media, and operations. These conference calls are a great way for our stores to collaborate, as owners share their ideas and best-selling products.