Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

By Serge Haitayan, President, Sierra FOA, President, Sierra FOA

Why the long face, fellow franchisee? Why are you feeling down and negative about our glorious 7-Eleven system? We are being treated so well, after all. Life is rosy! We couldn’t ask for a better franchise system!

Don’t you realize that our 7-Eleven system is so friendly to use? It allows us to order anything we want, anytime we want. It only takes an hour to enter a new SI item, and it’s never deleted from our ISP. Undoubtedly, one of our biggest perks is that we get the lowest cost of goods in the country among all the c-store chains! Our franchisor’s dealings with vendors are very transparent, and our cost of goods is very well separated from the advertising funds or any kind of hidden kickbacks (SEE). You should praise our franchisor for our private brands, which are always in stock and of high quality compared to the national brands, which are always failing to deliver their products.

Also, we are never monitored by corporate via their camera system like other chains, and our franchisor respects our elected leaders and does not interfere in our affairs or elections. They even hired an ex-chairman of the National Coalition to make sure everything goes smoothly in the system, unlike other chains that hire ex-chairmen to campaign and get involved in their franchisees’ elections. 

So what’s with all this negativity? After all, we can all close on Christmas Day so we and our employees can enjoy a peaceful and quiet day away from the store. I heard other chains charge anything they want at any time without franchisee permission and without any consideration to the impact on franchisee financials. Come on now, our franchisor never does that! And if they do by mistake, it is quickly removed.

Nor will SEI turn in all franchise stores’ payroll records to Homeland Security to avoid an aggressive investigation into their practices. Servant leadership ethics prevent our franchisor from stooping that low.

Yes, they may have asked more from us, but they have added more support staff at HQ to help. Our item information is consistently updated to ensure we are always able to make the most informed decisions regarding how to adjust pricing to maintain optimum profitability. Accounting has added additional staff, including a quality control inspector. They have even added additional staff in the Asset Protection department, and are once again resuming asset protection seminars across the Zones to educate franchisees on how to use the systems and tools to protect their people and profits. Oh, and if you ever call any of the help desks—which they take so much pride in—they even tell you that the call may be recorded and ask if you will stay on the line for a short survey after spending around 60 minutes to get a response. After all, we are the customer!

Lest I forget to mention, SEI has spared no expense nor left any stone unturned to simplify store operations for us and our associates, not because they see an immediate return on their investment, but because they believe this is what is right and necessary to ensure the future health and success of OUR business.

Our franchisor really cares about its franchisees because they remodel our stores on time as promised, and our equipment is always upgraded after depreciation. We also have the best fresh stores around, not like other chains with old dirty signs and floors tiles that look like worn out checker boards. Our stores are kept properly heated and cooled, according to each store layout and location. At other chains, I hear, stores have to put fans all over to keep it cool and fresh. I mean, the list goes on and on!

Still feeling low about 7-Eleven? Just remember that SEI is fair and gives new stores to whoever is qualified, not just to the well-connected and privileged franchisees. After all, we have a contract that clearly defines every detail of our operation, not like other chains where an operation manual can be changed at any time without any input or notice. Even the 7-Eleven franchisees in Australia and Japan are happy and doing well, with no scandals, no government inquiries, and no lawsuits.

I really do not understand those of you on the NCASEF Board who are always negative. After all, we get to go to Las Vegas every year to attend our franchisor’s convention/trade show for three days and dance to the tunes of a major Indian musician and listen to our very successful and caring CEO’s speeches, a person who practices servant leadership to the tee. You are all ingrates and negative people, and should be ashamed of yourselves! Enough said.

If by now you did not see the sarcasm in my article, I would say the following: Japan, Australia and SEI only have ONE thing in common, and that’s Seven & i leadership. The leadership of this company both in Dallas and Japan has failed the franchise community. The days when franchisor, franchisees and vendors needed to be profitable at the same pace are gone—corporate greed has taken over and we the franchisees have paid the heavy price.

It is time for bold changes in our unsustainable system that is crashing fast.