Proud To Join The Team
This is my first Avanti column as the newly appointed General Counsel to the National Coalition, so I thought some introductory comments would be in order.
First, I am honored and humbled by the vote of the Board to confirm Joe Galea’s nomination of me as General Counsel. I pledge to serve in that capacity with energy, efficiency and clarity. From my perspective, I am the General Counsel to the entire National Coalition, and will at all times keep in mind that my client is the organization, and not any particular subset or group. I will strive to provide objective, unbiased and unvarnished advice, and in baseball terms, to “call them as I see them.”
Second, I wanted you to be aware that my connections to the National Coalition and to 7-Eleven franchisees span more than two decades. I had the privilege to work with two Chairmen of the National Coalition while serving for 10 years on the Board of Directors of the American Franchisee Association. I was also an elected delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business. The franchisee delegation to the White House Conference had more 7-Eleven franchisees in attendance than franchisees from any other brand in the country. In addition, for a number of years I have worked with the New England 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Association.
Third, it is my hope that the work I do with other national franchisee associations will provide a broad perspective on franchise issues, which will assist me in providing advice and assistance to the National Coalition. It is my goal to establish a working and hopefully constructive relationship with my counterparts in Dallas, as I have been able to do with in-house counsel of other franchisors in whose systems I represent independent franchisee associations. Similarly, the work that I have done at the federal and state level, seeking legislation that would create more balance, fairness and equity in the franchise relationship, will inform my work for the National Coalition.
In the coming months, we will be dealing with some weighty and vital issues affecting 7-Eleven franchisees all over the country. These include a) the new and highly intrusive DVR System, b) the new GEA assessment form that treads on the independent contractor status of franchisees, c) deep and systemic flaws in the auditing process, d) arbitrary and unreasonable application of system standards for Fresh Foods, e) unreasonable barriers to transfers and refunds, f) unilateral development of a variety of system standards changes without input from or consultation with the National Coalition, and many other issues.
At the end of the day, I know that 7-Eleven franchisees seek a mutually respectful and balanced relationship with their franchisor, marked by cooperation and collaboration, a recognition of the substantial and continuing investment of capital and effort they make in their franchised businesses, freedom from unreasonable and unnecessary intrusions into the day-to-day operations of their stores, a fair and equitable return on their labor and capital, and an opportunity to harvest the value that they have created. To these ends, I pledge my vigorous efforts on your behalf.