Many Questions Arise With Realignment Plan
We have recently been notified that 7-Eleven is undergoing a dramatic reorganization—dubbed Project E by the higher-ups at corporate—in order to streamline operations and make the system more efficient. As part of this project, everything will eventually be run out of one central location—the corporate headquarters in Dallas. In a way, it makes a lot of sense to have all business conducted out of our main office. However, franchisees have raised many questions during recent local FOA and National Coalition board meetings about the accounting and merchandising sides of this realignment.
One of the accounting concerns involves licenses, which are renewed annually. The licenses were previously sent to local market offices, then passed on to franchisees. Now the licenses will be sent to Dallas, and franchisees fear they will be responsible for notifying the company when licenses are due. There is a feeling among storeowners that, since SEI headquarters is so far away, there needs to be a policy in place to ensure these licenses are being processed in a timely manner.
For many years franchisees have recommended to SEI that any mail pertaining to a particular store should be sent directly to that store, and not to the Dallas address to be forwarded to the franchisee later. This could be very stressful for storeowners, especially if they have mail that is time sensitive, like an unemployment claim. There have been times when stores received their unemployment paperwork after the fact and then had the claims denied because the deadline was not met. As the reorganization project begins, now may be a good time to review this process, because I believe, as most franchisees do, that any mail pertaining to an individual store should be sent directly to that store, as ultimately the franchisee is responsible.
Another accounting issue that has franchisees concerned is communication with the Accounting Department, which many believe will suffer. As it currently stands we have to file accounting cases online, and there’s a feeling that with the corporate realignment the communication gap is going to grow even wider and we’re going to be spilleautomater further separated from having actual live conversations with our accounting representatives.
On the merchandising side, the feeling in the franchise community is that consolidating all the buyers in Dallas will limit opportunities for new vendors to approach SEI. It appears only those vendors within the BT and CDC circle, as well as our recommended vendors, will be able to have direct contact with SEI in Dallas. One way to get around this is for FOAs to aggressively reach out to local vendors, invite them to their board meetings, work with them to introduce their items and test them in the FOA member stores, and then send the results to SEI in order to give that vendor an opportunity to become a recommended vendor. This route has proven successful, but it does take some effort.
Merchandising is our key and our backbone, and we have always been very fortunate to have regional vendors that supply us with products we need. This opportunity needs to exist, because geographically, every store is not set up the same, and many are out of delivery areas for CDCs.
I have always been adamant that clear and open communication is essential to the success of our business. Given all the changes coming with SEI’s reorganization, communication is even more important, now that market managers are taking an active role with local FOA groups. Market Managers are going to be our direct link to corporate, and our questions and concerns will be voiced to them so they can bring us back answers. My FOA has invited our market manager to board meetings, and it has worked out well. We have been able to talk about our issues, and he has been able to come back to us with answers. I believe this needs to continue with all our FOAs, because without active communication, it’s going to be tough for SEI and franchisees to get on the same page moving forward.