Register System Issues With Newly Acquired Gasoline Stores
By now you have all heard of SEI’s purchase of 1,100 Sunoco convenience stores, all of which have gas. It’s just the latest in many acquisitions the company has made within the last few years, with more planned for the future. This is great news, as our franchisor is growing and the 7-Eleven brand is becoming more prominent throughout the country. Many of these acquired stores already come with an established customer base, which is a big plus. Acquired stores also present opportunities for established franchisees to become multiple store owners. However, there is one persistent problem when it comes to acquired gasoline stores in particular, and that is the register systems.
Normally, when SEI builds a store from the ground up all the systems are very well integrated. This is especially true of newly built gasoline stores—the merchandise register system is integrated with the gas register system. Acquired gas stores are a different story. More often than not, the acquired gasoline stores will have their own gas register system—whether it be Passport or Nucleus—and credit card system for their branded credit cards (think Exxon and Chevron). For whatever reason, SEI has difficulty integrating those systems with the 7-Eleven system. Sometimes it could be because the acquired stores have a better credit card base or a system that SEI cannot convert, or perhaps the acquired stores have preexisting agreements that SEI has to honor. Whatever the case, SEI ends up keeping that separate gas and credit card register system, and this inevitably leads to issues for the owners of those stores.
One of those issues is making certain you or your employees use the correct register to process a payment. Merchandise has to be scanned on the traditional 7-Eleven register, but if the customer is using the gasoline branded credit card then we have to use the Passport or Nucleus register because it won’t be accepted by our pin pad. It is a hassle and causes confusion for store associates. Then at the end of the day or the end of a shift, we have to be certain all registers are closed properly.
Inevitably mistakes will be made, which will lead to variations, which are a franchisee expanse. All of my gas stores are the result of acquisitions, and I can tell you it is a real nightmare if your employee forgets to close the day on the gas register. The result is you have to figure it out manually. There are always incorrect calculations, and merchandise sales suffer. I have never seen merchandise adjustments like I do in these acquired gasoline stores. Merchandise sales adjustments are high because gas sales are run on the gas register, and invariably when we have to do the dual worksheet to figure it out, the human factor plays a part, because our employees make mistakes. This ends up being the franchisee’s expense.
Sometimes the outside credit cards don’t process correctly. Then you have to call the Help Desk to correct the transaction. There are a lot of steps to go through and it is very time consuming. RISE only works on traditional 7-Eleven cash registers, so until the different register systems are integrated with the 7-Eleven register system, RISE is not effective, as far as gas is concerned, in these acquired gas stores.
Since 7-Eleven mainly is growing by acquiring stores, the focus should be to integrate them into our system as quickly as possible. Integration will make the lives of the franchisees who own these stores easier. A lot of cash variations occur with these gas stores, and when you call the help desk, they tell you that it’s normal. If a store is $30 short for the day, they say that it’s normal for non-integrated stores. That is a franchisee expense, and we need to be concerned, especially now with the Sunoco acquisition, which means 44 percent of all 7-Elevens in the country will be gasoline stores—nearly half.