Focus On The 2019 Agreement
Some eight months ago, the officers of the National Coalition met with 7-Eleven, Inc. President Joe DePinto and his top executives for only the second time in as many years. It turned out to be a very encouraging and frank discussion, and we were promised a “holistic review” of the next franchise contract would begin soon and that NCASEF leadership along with the CEO Round Table would be involved.
Several months passed and we heard nothing more about the holistic review. During the last NBLC meeting in September, Joe DePinto announced that we might have several different contracts to sign when the new agreement is distributed in 2019. That was news to us because of their promise to involve us in the holistic review of the franchise agreement.
We are adamant about being involved in the new contract development process because the one aspect we want to protect is our independent contractor status. Recently, there have been many cases in courts all around the country regarding the roles of franchisors and franchisees, especially after the National Labor Relations Board—the federal government’s main labor law enforcement agency—decided to look further into whether McDonald’s Corp. is a joint employer of its franchisees’ workers. In California there are similar cases pending in front of the state Supreme Court.
All of these cases are addressing the question of whether franchisors exercise too much control over franchisees and their employees. I will leave it to the lawyers to explain in more detail and provide analyses. But in reality, are we as 7-Eleven franchisees truly independent contractors? Is there too much control exerted on us in the daily operations of our stores? In my opinion we are highly glorified store managers, and in some cases un-glorified managers.
Let’s start with the fact SEI is remotely monitoring our stores at will via the DVR system. Next, let’s consider that the ordering system is too complex and time consuming—although, to be fair, some relief will come soon from auto replenishment for the center of the store. Nevertheless, the system remains unfriendly and too restrictive. Think about the ordering windows and their limitations.
Let’s also consider the 85 percent requirement to purchase from recommended vendors, and the CDC and their up-charge costs for items we can buy cheaper from McLane such as snuff, grill items, etc. How about our stores’ AC units being controlled by Dallas? Is RI really working in our stores, or is the system hindering our ability to provide the proper assortment to our customers?
The list can go on and on. At the end of the day we must ask ourselves if we are happy in our stores. Do we feel we are in control of our time, our employees and our product set? Or do we feel that every aspect of our lives as franchisees is being controlled and monitored by our franchisor? The 2019 agreement is around the corner. We as franchisees should have that event in our sights. We should be ready to ask tough questions, demand fairness and expect our independent contractor status to be unassailably re-established. We have a lot of work to do in the next year. Our unity is essential.
This is my opinion and I welcome yours.