The Problems With Our Ordering System
Several years ago SEI introduced RISE, the new ordering software and the next step in the ongoing development of the franchisee ordering system. As usual, when something new is launched by 7-Eleven, there is a lot of hoopla and excitement by the management team. We were told this system was the “best of the best.” It was state-of-the-art and would make ordering as smooth and efficient as can be. It would be easy and fast. To be honest, franchisees were very excited! Unfortunately, while it all sounded great on paper and in meetings, the sad truth is that SEI’s new ordering system in practice has not lived up to its reputation.
To be perfectly blunt, I think the new system is a mess for franchisees, and I believe that most of my fellow franchisees feel the same. One of the biggest problems is that it’s very time-consuming—twice the work for franchisees—and not very user friendly. As we all know, SEI’s previous ordering system did not present this issue. For the most part, it was quite fast and easy to use. We used to do our ordering in 3-4 hours, and now we need a full-time person to accomplish the same task! In fact, McLane is still using the previous ordering system for all of its other customers because of its speed and efficiency. What does this tell us?
An obvious challenge with the current ordering system is that it requires each store to upload the complete list of all recommended items, even if only a few select items are being ordered. What a waste of the franchisee’s valuable time! Even if he or she has a manager to assist with the process, it’s still manpower taken away from other tasks within the store, not to mention the added burden of having to pay someone for additional hours to handle the ordering. In light of minimum wage increases throughout the country, this is expensive and counterproductive.
Maintaining the system is another major issue. Many franchisees have to employ a full-time associate just to maintain the system and keep it current so the store can meet SEI’s strict maintenance requirements. Truth be told, there are very few franchisees in the entire system who can afford the added payroll. This, my friends, is a serious problem.
What can be done? In my opinion, the current ordering system needs an immediate upgrade to make it more user-friendly and less time-consuming for all franchisees, especially for those in areas like Chicagoland where legislation mandates we pay a higher minimum wage. I truly believe that SEI should have done this a long time ago.
While SEI has long advised franchisees to employ the RIS and item-by-item management to merchandise according to the needs of our stores, the whole RISE process makes it harder to order non-recommended items. While 7-Eleven always is adding recommended items, franchises have to jump through hoops to order non-recommended items (some that will never be recommended), and we get tired of the process!
As our franchisor, SEI is obligated to provide franchisees with the best tools they have to help us successfully run our stores. The way I see it, in this instance, they have failed miserably. We are collecting an enormous amount of data, which is sold by SEI under 7-Exchange to vendors, but an efficient ordering system—a key factor in franchisee survival—has escaped our grasp.
At a time when it is common for state and local legislatures to jump on the bandwagon of minimum wage, it is my sincere hope that SEI takes a closer look at our ordering system and takes the necessary steps to give franchisees the faster, more user friendly system we need to succeed. If we could save between 15 and 20 hours a week—a huge difference in terms of time and money—we will better manage the minimum wage increases coming our way in the future.
I have initiated discussions with local and national management regarding the many problems with our ordering system. I am committed to do all I can to resolve this critical issue.