During his eight years as general manager of Adam & Eve Franchising Corporation (AEFC), David Keegan has watched Adam & Eve’s retail division expand greatly. The Adam & Eve chain had 21 brick-and-mortar stores in North America when Keegan joined AEFC in April 2009; today, it has 75 stores and is active in 19 different states in the U.S. And all of those stores rely on Keegan’s guidance and leadership to succeed.
“As the GM of AEFC, everything starts with me — and ultimately, I am responsible for all aspects of the franchising business for Adam & Eve,” Keegan told XBIZ. “Along with myself and a very powerful but small team, we recruit, train, visit, develop plans and strategies to help the stores maximize their sales and profits. Along with an outside company, we develop, host and update the Adam & Eve store’s website, work with social media and provide an e-commerce platform for our stores to sell online.”
AEFC makes sure — with our merchandising, window displays, marketing and training — that we provide the best shopping experience for our customers.
Keegan hasn’t always worked in the adult industry. He started at General Nutrition Centers (GNC) chain, where he spent 27 years and started as a stock clerk before working his way up to VP of a division that handled 500 corporate stores and 225 franchised locations. He also worked with the Detroit-based tech chain Wireless Toyz (where he served as director of franchising for three years).
“In the course of those 27 years,” Keegan recalled, “I learned from the bottom up how to correctly operate a store to maximize the customer’s experience and exceed their expectations — and also, how to successfully run a profitable business reading financials and developing plans to improve profits. My last five years at GNC, I was in charge of recruiting potential franchise operators, training all new operators, and overseeing the development of GNC’s store-within-a-store concept with Rite-Aid Pharmacies.”
Founded by Phil Harvey and Tim Black in North Carolina in 1970, Adam & Eve started out as a small mail-order business and went on to become one of the top adult brands. Adam & Eve has operated in different areas of the industry, from making adult movies to manufacturing sex toys — and in 2004, it started franchising its brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S.
At AEFC, Keegan has been overseeing a variety of programs designed to help Adam & Eve’s stores perform optimally.
“AEFC provides monthly and event emails for the stores upon request,” Keegan noted. “We also participate at store events and openings. We have marketing ideas and billboard, radio and TV marketing campaigns that our operators have access to 24 hours a day. AEFC visits all stores at least once a year — in most cases, more to complete a customer experience report, which covers specific key performance indicators.”
AEFC provides a robust wholesale site to its operators that has more than 4,500 products at competitive prices and terms. Franchisees also receive other tools regularly, including newsletters that are packed with sales tips, hot products, product reviews and more. Operators also receive emails and phone calls directly from the AEFC team members, Keegan says.
Helping to advance AEFC’s point-of-sale system, Keegan asserted, is a top priority this year.
“The biggest goal for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019 is getting all stores on one POS system,” Keegan stressed. “This will allow our franchise operators and AEFC to track sales for every item since we will now have a unified system with unified product UPCs. Both the operators and AEFC will be provided with great, in-depth business information reports and key performance indicators that will allow for much better support in evaluating a store’s performance while highlighting strengths and weaknesses.”
Throughout the retail chain’s history, Adam & Eve has stood the test of time by changing with the times.
“When Adam & Eve jumped into the brick-and-mortar stores 15 years ago, we started the trend of moving away from the peep shows, bars-on-the-window, in-your-face adult stores to a more female-friendly, couple-friendly store,” Keegan observed. “Currently, most adult stores have migrated to this concept as well. AEFC makes sure — with our merchandising, window displays, marketing and training — that we provide the best shopping experience for our customers. They feel welcome in our stores and are comfortable shopping and asking questions of our knowledgeable sales staff.”
Although most of Adam & Eve’s brick-and-mortar stores are in the U.S., it also has a store in Winnipeg, Canada — and one of Keegan’s goals is for Adam & Eve Stores to continue expanding its international presence.
“We are starting to look for candidates to become a master franchise in countries outside the U.S.,” Keegan noted. “Currently, we are in discussions with people in China, Mexico and Peru.”
For the U.S., Keegan said, another one of AEFC’s ambitions “is to get to 400 stores nationally within 10 years.”
“Over the course of the last six years, my team has developed a strong wholesale platform for our operators to purchase products at great prices and the best terms,” Keegan explained. “Slowly, we have integrated policies, programs and standards that have moved Adam & Eve to a complete franchise environment that allows our franchise operators the opportunity to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. I work with my team as a true team; everyone’s ideas, suggestions and comments count — including franchise operators — so we can develop programs to improve the brand and have a positive effect in the stores and ultimately, on the customer’s experience.”