Working Together Will Benefit All 7-Eleven Stakeholders
BY SUKHI SANDHU, NCASEF CHAIRMAN
I am deeply honored to serve as Chairman of the National Coalition. When I campaigned for the position, I announced my focus would be on three dynamics that will affect and involve all stakeholders in our 7-Eleven system: unity, communication and relationships, and financial health. Now, with the help of my fellow officers and Board members, we plan to apply these dynamics equally to franchisees (including the National Coalition and FOAs), our vendor partners, and SEI.
I am a firm believer that dialogue, diplomacy, collaboration, and mutual respect get the best results in any situation. As such, the approach of the National Coalition head table during my tenure is always going to be fair and balanced, and we will make sure all opportunities are mutually beneficial for all 7-Eleven partners. We will strive for unity among franchisees, as well as between franchisees and our vendor community and our franchisor. To achieve this, we plan to establish strong and open communication between all parties, which in turn helps strengthen relationships. Simultaneously, we will work to boost the financial health not only of all 7-Eleven stakeholders, but of the National Coalition and FOAs across the country as well.
Perhaps the best example of these dynamics in action is our Board of Directors and Affiliate Member meeting in Savannah, Georgia in February. Attendance by franchisees and vendors was the highest it’s been in years, and SEI upper management accepted our invitation to participate. On the morning of the Affiliate Member meeting, presentations were made by SEI Senior Vice Presidents Jack Stout and Doug Rosencrans. In the afternoon we held workshop groups between franchisees and vendors in which they discussed problems and solutions related to product availability, delivery, and service, among other issues. Afterwards, we held a Tabletop Trade Show featuring 20 exhibitors displaying their latest products and deals.
During the Board of Directors meeting the following two days we had civil discourse on various subjects, from the gross profit split and gasoline commission to delivery check-in issues and KSR items in stores. We also announced the formation of several committees to overlook and govern certain aspects of the National Coalition—like bylaws, elections, and our annual convention—and to facilitate resource development and problem solving in areas like accounting, facility maintenance, and store logistics. Interspersed throughout the Board meeting were presentations by vendors who showcased some new and upcoming products and promotions, and social events that allowed all parties to mingle and network.
We surveyed attendees after the meeting to get an indication if our new format was successful and what could be improved. I am pleased to report that the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Vendors appreciated having direct access to Board members, and especially liked seeing SEI upper management at the meeting. Board members enjoyed the interaction with vendors and SEI representatives, saw value in the formation of committees, and liked how the meeting was conducted overall.
So, during this one meeting we had a show of unity and effective communication between franchisees (Board members), vendors and SEI, and robust discussions on how we can improve the bottom lines of all stakeholders. Throughout, communication was open and courteous. In a more direct fashion, vendors financially supported the meeting—and the National Coalition—with their generous sponsorship of the event, and franchisees in turn financially supported the vendors by placing orders on the spot.
This is what we hope to accomplish on a grander scale—to develop a balanced, constructive, cooperative, and mutually respectful relationship between franchisees, vendors, and SEI. In order for our brand to truly thrive, all stakeholders must work collaboratively to ensure each one benefits equally.
Rest assured, my team and I are also committed to addressing the many concerns franchisees are facing today. I am currently in constant communication via phone, Zoom/video and in-person meetings with SEI upper management discussing these issues. One of the more pressing matters at the moment is franchisees’ eroding net incomes due to increased operational expenses.
Before I sign off, I must acknowledge the previous administration for their hard work and commitment to the National Coalition and the franchisee community. Jay Singh, Michael Jorgensen, Jas Dhillon, AJ Handa, and Paul Lobana have devoted many years advocating on behalf of franchisees, and we thank them for their service.