Four franchisee plaintiffs, with the support of the National Coalition, have filed a class action lawsuit against 7-Eleven, Inc., our franchisor. This action was taken because franchisees are not being treated as independent contractors and business owners due to increasingly pervasive control by our franchisor. Three times, over the course of three separate meetings, the National Coalition Board voted unanimously to support the lawsuit. The Board consists of 43 presidents and 43 vice presidents of Franchise Owner’s Associations from around the country. These are the folks who represent franchisees in all of the states in which 7-Eleven operates.
The National Coalition’s Board also voted unanimously to skip the 7-Eleven Experience, our franchisor’s convention and trade show. The Board made this decision as a result of the suspension/cancellation of the Franchisee Agreement Committee meetings, the National Business Leadership Council (NBLC), and the CEO Roundtable meetings, which are the most highly visible means—along with National Coalition Board meetings attended by SEI’s senior team—that we have to communicate with our franchisor.
The NCASEF Board did not come to these decisions lightly. The majority of us have been in the system for 20 or more years. We love and respect our brand, which has given us our businesses and our livelihoods and supported our families for many, many years. We don’t want to hurt our brand, because that would not be good for the growth of our businesses and our profits. Instead, we are gravely concerned for our businesses and our futures as franchisees.
On the eve of the new 2019 Franchise Agreement it is important, now more than ever, that we continue to organize to provide representation for 100 percent of franchisees in the system. At the October Board meeting I was elected chairman of the National Coalition, to serve for two years. My colleague Michael Jorgensen from the Central Florida FOA was elected executive vice chairman, and Jaspreet Dhillon from the FOA of Greater Los Angeles was elected treasurer. As chairman, I realize this is a difficult time for franchisees, so my first impulse is to get all franchisees thinking about unity and building more membership in our Franchise Owner’s Associations (FOAs).
I urge every single franchisee to join your closest local FOA to stay informed, to have your questions answered, to network with other franchisees, and to share representation through the National Coalition. If you are already a member of the local FOA, please reach out to your friends and colleagues who are not members to get involved with the FOA closest to their geographical location and support franchisee unity. The leadership of every FOA should take responsibility for recruiting new members, for educating them on how to create cases online to become members, and for providing opportunities to stay involved in FOA activities. Most FOAs do a wonderful job of staying in touch with local communities surrounding their stores.
The National Coalition has represented franchisee interests for 43 years, since 1975, when 60 franchisees incorporated as the Convenience Store Franchisee Association, and the NCASEF was created. In 1978, then chairman Bill Schuessler framed the National Coalition motto, “None of us is as great as all of us together.”
Join your local FOA to get the support of other franchisees and franchisee leaders. I urge everyone to leave all local politics aside because we have strength in numbers, in our association, and in sharing information about our similar and shared experiences. We can all see the current status of our system, which is changing before our very eyes. Let us all work together with our franchisor and existing management, and hold them more accountable for the system, the brand, and the well being of franchisees who for the last 50 years have formed the backbone of the system we know so well and the brand we continue to love.
To find the Franchise Owner’s Association closest to you, visit the National Coalition website at www.NCASEF.com. We are the only national forum where 7-Eleven franchisees can speak freely, trade experiences, and optimize our joint interests in working with 7-Eleven, Inc., vendors, and other franchisees.