A Wonderful Convention For All 7-Eleven Stakeholders
By Sukhi Sandhu, NCASEF Chairman
I can’t begin my article without first thanking everyone—franchisees, our valued vendor partners, and our invited SEI guests—for making our 46th Annual Convention and Trade Show a wildly successful event! I am pleased to report that we had record attendance, and if the feedback I’ve received personally and have seen on NCASEF’s WhatsApp chat group are any indication, a great time was had by all.
A lot of hard work went on behind the scenes to make the convention as entertaining and full of business opportunities as possible. Our NCASEF officers, the members of our Convention & Entertainment and Charity Golf Committees, not to mention our staff and volunteers, worked tirelessly to put this event together in the short period of time we had, and their diligence and perseverance paid off. To them I extend my most heartfelt gratitude.
Every NCASEF convention has a theme which it is centered on, and that theme normally reflects the vision of the head table at the time. Our current vision is one of all 7-Eleven stakeholders working in unison for each other’s mutual benefit and for the good of the system, and this year’s convention theme truly encompassed it: Building the Brand Together. Franchisees, vendors, and SEI united during our four-day event to enhance our business and create opportunities that I hope will help make 7-Eleven more profitable for all partners.
Our mindset while organizing the convention was to make it fun for the entire family while keeping it a business-related event. The NCASEF convention has always been billed as a “business vacation” for our franchisees, but we wanted to make it as enticing as possible to attract even more attendees. We figured if we’re going to ask franchisees to leave their stores for four days—including additional travel days—then we should make it worth their time. To that end, we offered discounted city tours of Washington, D.C., a sunset dinner cruise along the Potomac River with great food, music and dancing, entertainment during our Charity Night Gala in the form of Rick Gerber, The Magic Guy (courtesy of Anheuser-Busch), and of course, a live concert by famous Indian recording artist Yo Yo Honey Singh at our closing night’s Grand Banquet. Needless to say, the hotel ballroom on the final night was packed to the gills!
On the business front, we created numerous opportunities for franchisees, vendors, and our invited SEI guests to socialize and network. We brought back the golf outing for the first time in many years not only to help raise more funds for our charity of choice—Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals—but also because it’s an event our vendor partners enjoy. Just to segue a bit, I’m pleased to announce that thanks to our Charity Golf Tournament, Charity Auction Night, pledges from our vendor partners, and donations from several FOAs, we managed to raise $150,000 for CMN Hospitals during the convention! I would like to thank you all for making that possible.
Moving along, we organized the two-day trade show so it would benefit franchisees and our exhibiting vendors. Franchisees were able to view the latest products and hottest deals to fill their store shelves and grow their business, while vendors received mounds of orders and had access to the SEI Merchandising folks walking the trade show floor on the lookout for new products to add to 7-Eleven’s list of recommended items.
In terms of seminars, besides the annual State of the Coalition Address with the NCASEF officers and the Legal Forum with NCASEF General Counsel Eric Karp—both of which were very well attended—we had two sessions conducted by SEI representatives. One featured corporate folks from Accounting, Asset Protection and Logistics, and the other was hosted by SEI’s Government Affairs representatives. They all took questions from the franchisee audience during and even after their presentations.
In fact, SEI had a significant presence throughout the convention. We invited them because we felt it was important to give franchisees direct access to corporate higher-ups in order to get the channels of communication flowing again. So SEI not only conducted two seminars, they also had three booths at the trade show—Accounting, Asset Protection and In-House Maintenance—where franchisees could go to ask questions, get assistance with store specific issues, or get information. Whether it was about 7NOW, maintenance, or accounting, franchisees were able to engage with SEI department heads directly and have their voices heard.
For their part, SEI was happy to do it. They said they had a great experience and thanked us for giving them the opportunity to attend the convention and for providing a platform for them to engage with franchisees directly. Many of these SEI representatives also attended our Board meeting preceding the convention, and our franchisor is committed to participate in more NCASEF events.
Overall, the convention was a smashing success. It was an informative, engaging, entertaining, business-building get-together that was rewarding for all stakeholders. I am confident that this has rejuvenated the bond between franchisees, SEI and vendors as we continue to grow and work together to resolve issues, increase sales and profits, and make 7-Eleven a stronger brand.