Based in the United States, Apricot Lane Boutiques offer the latest in contemporary fashion apparel, jewelry, accessories, and gifts at affordable prices. One of the most unique characteristics of this franchise relates to its inventory. Every franchise location offers merchandise that’s handpicked by the franchisee to reflect the most popular styles of the store’s local demographics, so what you’ll find in a North Dakota franchise may be vastly different from one in Ohio.
Apricot Lane Boutique, headquartered in Vacaville, California, was established in 2007 and today has 74 stores across 32 states. Led by founders, Ken Petersen, Scott Jacobs and Tom Brady with 25 years of franchise experience, Apricot Lane Boutique caters to mom’s and daughters with affordable on-trend fashions with prices below $100. We spoke with Ken and Scott to learn more about Apricot Lane Boutique’s franchise training methods.
A Unique Training Approach For A Unique Business Model
“Our training program has been crafted and perfected over the past 25 years of teaching and preparing all our franchisees—those with and without retail backgrounds—all aspects of operating a successful retail store franchise. Training is designed to be comprehensive, empowering you to build strong and effective habits as a business owner,” they told us.
This process begins with an exclusive Home Training program that’s designed to work around a new franchisee’s personal life and work schedule through web-based training. They’re given the opportunity to study the franchise’s manuals, take exams on what they’ve learned, receive hands-on training experience with the POS system, go over countdown lists and schedules for store construction, and learn some of the store’s software. New franchisees will also engage in conference calls to review Marketing and Social resources, along with strategic planning.
“The advantage of our franchise is the training core and resources are available from the time they sign their franchise agreement and throughout their franchise term,” Ken and Scott said. “With a custom countdown scheduling, this enables the franchisee to be self-paced and focus on our unique training systems and processes without spending additional time finding the information on their own.”
Once franchisees have completed their Home Training, they’re invited to attend five days of classroom training through Apricot Lane University (ALU) at the Vacaville headquarters. They’ll enjoy a day trip to the LA Fashion District to meet and train directly with Apricot Lane’s merchandise buyer, and become acquainted with the company’s corporate staff and Department Heads to learn every aspect of the business.
One week prior to a franchise opening, Apricot Lane Boutique sends a store opener to assist with visual merchandising for the store, and provides the franchisee with hands-on training in merchandising, POS systems, product knowledge, and customer service.
“We provide ongoing one-on-one training with owners based on their needs, experience, and skills set,” Ken and Scott explained. “For example, after store openings, we have a traditional 90 to 120-day training program to develop and maintain good working habits, time management, and delegation methods.” They release training updates whenever new and applicable information, systems, or programs become available, and deliver frequent online webinars that review new marketing or social campaigns, industry changes, and opportunities.
Apricot Lane Boutiques also provides an annual Continuing Education Seminar in conjunction with one of their trade shows, giving franchisees a chance to meet and network with special vendors, guest speakers, and business educators.
Tailor-made Training For Specialized Roles
Apricot Lane trains franchise owners, store managers, social and marketing coordinators, key holders, and sales associates known as Stylists. Training is tailored by job description so while the store owner should master virtually every aspect of their business, training for a store manager would focus primarily on customer service, POS systems, and marketing. Stylists receive training in pertinent aspects of customer service, effective display methods, and “Styling vs. Selling.”
We asked Ken and Scott how Apricot Lane Boutique ensures that a franchisee will adequately train their employees. “It’s part of our curriculum to make sure each franchisee provides the proper training for all their staff,” they told us. “Key management staff are invited to onsite corporate training at no additional cost (other than travel and hotel) and we will include them to be part of this essential training program.”
Apricot Lane Boutique’s web-based training program uses a self-guided “road map” that store owners can use and easily adapt to their own schedules. Customized training is set up by job description and the franchisor works closely with fledgling store owners to provide the store’s employees with the individualized training they require.
Store owners naturally want their stores to be successful and this acts as incentive for them to personally drive and manage the information and training programs provided by Apricot Lane Boutique to educate their staff on an ongoing basis. “By using our web-based training and online webinars, all store owners have access to the same training materials for their teams,” Ken and Scott said. “Using the ‘road map,’ it gives all staff the same information. We stress on the benefits of having capable store managers in these locations who can support the team’s training efforts for best practices and provide the best customer experience.”
Apricot Lane Boutique also uses a Mystery Shopper program so franchises are given the opportunity to improve their operations based on honest evaluations. "Many store owners have reached out for assistance and guidance to get their team’s training updated," they observed.
Why Franchise Training Is Important
Thorough and ongoing training enables the franchisee to operate and manage their store with confidence, a wise philosophy that should be applied to any franchise venture. Ken and Scott take pride in providing their franchisees with the training programs and information to empower every store’s success. “Every day, there is an opportunity to learn new things (even from our franchise owners) and improve ourselves and our business, so we make sure we never lose our 'always a student' mentality and the eagerness to learn,” they told us.
That humble yet simple approach will lead to success for not only Apricot Lane Boutique franchises, but every franchise around the world.
About Apricot Lane Boutique
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Apricot Lane Boutique operates in 32 states and has 74 units. Their stores are typically located in high traffic malls or shopping plazas within cities and tourist destinations. For several years in a row beginning in 2009, Apricot Lane has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Top 500 List, a catalog of the best franchise opportunities within the United States. Visit their franchise website for more information about Apricot Lane Boutique franchise opportunities here.
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