It’s Time To Grow FOA And National Coalition Membership

BY JAY SINGH, CHAIRMAN, NCASEF, PRESIDENT, SAN ANTONIO FOA

Thirteen years ago, when I began working with the National Coalition as an FOA president, I was amazed that one convenience store company could have as many as 3,688 stores. Little did I know that number would climb to 7,808 franchised stores plus 738 corporate stores in the United States by the time I was elected to my second term as chairman of the National Coalition beginning in 2020.

As 7-Eleven has grown, the National Coalition has grown with it. 7-Eleven has stated their intentions of growing to 20,000 locations in the United States by their 100th anniversary in 2027. Their most recent acquisition of 100 Oklahoma 7-Eleven stores and their interest linked to the acquisition of 4,000 Speedway convenience stores put up for sale last month shows just how serious the company’s intentions are.

In 1978 Bill Schussler, then Chairman of the 7-Eleven Franchise Owner’s Association, which eventually became the NCASEF, uttered the words, “None of us is as great as all of us together.” It probably wasn’t the first time franchise owners talked about the benefits of unity and working together. Schussler’s words still ring true for franchisees today,

There’s no question that more franchisee involvement in local Franchise Owner’s Associations means more influence with the company, more buying power with national and regional vendors, and more influence in our local communities where we can help schools and hospitals, fire and police departments, and participate in charity and community events.

Recently, 7-Eleven made an announcement to the trade press that the company has surpassed 70,000 locations worldwide in 17 countries. When they build their first store in India later this year, it will be 18 countries. The company has also publicized the fact that globally last year, 7-Eleven opened a store every 3.5 hours. In the U.S., with the acquisition and ongoing conversion of 1,030 Sunoco stores to the 7-Eleven brand, franchised stores now account for 7,808 stores in 31 states, and there are still some 400 Sunoco stores yet to be converted. 7-Eleven also builds several hundred stores in a typical year.

It is the goal of the National Coalition to sign up every franchisee in the country to an FOA membership, and membership in the National Coalition. This is not an easy task, since most store-owners are self-made entrepreneurs, and are used to doing things independently.

All the more reason we must encourage our fellow franchisees to join our local FOAs, participate in their events, and in the process, join the National Coalition. On a local level, most FOAs have a variety of activities, including but not limited to monthly board and/or membership meetings, holiday parties, golf tournaments and other charity events, a trade show, and vendor appreciation days. Many FOAs have other group social events like sporting events, picnics and group dinners. Almost all FOAs donate to local charities or support local hospi-tals and other groups doing good work.

All in all, the FOA experience can be very social with fellow franchisees, as well as one of your most important sources of support, information, and networking within our 7-Eleven businesses. Many FOAs support franchisees who are struggling with advice on how to run their businesses, and in some cases, Board members and individual franchisees will pitch in and take five people to a store that needs cleaning and organization. If you need a lawyer, most FOAs have a relationship with at least one franchise attorney or can refer you to several. If you get an LON or breach, the FOA leaders can help guide you, and whatever questions you have can be addressed from the franchisee point of view by speaking with fellow FOA members.

You can join your local FOA electronically through 7 Help using 7 Hub. On page 14 of this issue of Avanti you can see the complete instructions for FOA membership. To find the FOA closest to you, check out the Membership tab on the Coalition website, www.NCASEF.com, or call the National Coalition office at 210-971-9211.

Now is the time to increase FOA and National Coalition membership. Besides the new Sunoco stores, we have some areas around the country underrepresented by local FOAs. The National Coalition now has 42 FOA members, with large concentrations of franchisees on the East coast, West coast and the area from Chicago to Dallas.

Once you become a member of your local FOA, you will automatically become a member of the National Coalition. It is the Coalition’s job to represent franchisee interests to Dallas and among national vendors, and to provide a forum for the exchange of information about systemic issues. If you have legal questions, the National Coalition has two lawyers that can answer them generally, but not state by state.

To fulfill its mission the National Coalition sponsors four full Board meetings per year, a convention and trade show, a Vendor Affiliate Program, a magazine, a website, and Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. We have legislative interests and support various bills affecting our industry and our businesses. We also donate to national charities every year, and each year we choose a worthy one. For the last four years our charity has been Swim Across America, sponsors of swimming events to raise money for cancer research.

For four meetings per year, the NCASEF invites two members from each FOA, a president and a vice president, to sit on the National Coalition Board of Di-rectors. All franchisees nationally are also invited to observe at National Coalition meetings, which encompass new as well as old business.

The National Coalition has six elected officers who conduct the business of the organization and lead the meetings. The officers work at the behest of the Board, which votes on all major issues and any and all motions brought by the Coalition’s 84 Board members.

There are a lot of benefits to becoming an FOA and a National Coalition member, including greater understanding of the company and the c-store business, greater involvement with vendors, and the ability to ask questions and get feedback from a community of individ-uals with common interests.

The 7-Eleven, Inc. of today is not the same corporation that operated Southland Corporation in the heydays of 7-Eleven franchising by the Thompson brothers in the 1970s and 1980s. The system is so large it is better to be connected in a community of people, rather than being on your own. If you know franchisees who are not in an FOA currently, please build our participation by asking them to join us. If you are not currently in an FOA, get over to 7 Hub and sign up.