Unlocking Success Through Collaboration

By Sukhi Sandhu, NCASEF Chairman

As a 7-Eleven franchisee in California, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges that our stores have faced due to the recent tobacco flavor bans in our state. The impact on our traffic count has been significant, as these bans not only affected our cigarette and tobacco sales, but also the sales of other products that customers would typically buy along with their tobacco purchases, like gums and energy drinks. The current dire economic climate, coupled with the recent cut in the extra pandemic SNAP/EBT benefits, has further strained our business. But through adversity, we’ve discovered that collaboration is the key to overcoming obstacles and driving success.

When the tobacco flavor ban started having a negative impact on California stores, SEI’s operations and merchandising teams put their heads together to come up with a plan to counteract the declining foot traffic. Their solution was the “California Traffic Driver” initiative, which went above and beyond a regular sales plan promotion. SEI’s Zone operations team, with the help of the Dallas merchandising team, approached manufacturers and fresh food commissaries to put together an aggressive, funded program for our stores.

The initiative’s primary objective was to increase foot traffic through special promotions, without sacrificing gross profit percentages. SEI’s teams worked with the manufacturers to get the best possible cost of goods, enabling our stores to offer the promotions at the value retail price to our customers. This collaborative effort was further strengthened by the alignment of all California FOA leadership and franchisees—ensuring that the promotions would be executed effectively and maximized to their full potential.

The results have been nothing short of astronomical. The success of the California Traffic Driver initiative has caught the attention of other manufacturers, and many more are now inquiring about joining. The initiative’s success not only helped 7-Eleven stores in California with increased foot traffic, but also boosted the unit turns for the manufacturers who had experienced collateral damage from the tobacco flavor ban.

Additionally, the promotions were supported by eye-catching window signs, point-of-purchase displays, banners, and digital marketing through the 7-Eleven app and loyalty programs. This cohesive advertising strategy ensured that the promotions were impossible to miss, driving more customers to our stores.

I can’t help but think about the potential of expanding this successful program to the national level in the future. With all 7-Eleven partners working together, imagine the incredible results we could achieve. It’s time for us to learn from the California Traffic Driver initiative and apply the same collaborative mindset across the board.

The success of the California Traffic Driver initiative sends a clear message to all 7-Eleven stakeholders: when we work together towards a common goal, we can achieve remarkable results. Manufacturers, suppliers, franchisees, and SEI all played a crucial role in overcoming the challenges posed by the California tobacco flavor ban and other headwinds. And although there remain kinks in our system that need to be ironed out, the California Traffic Driver initiative is exemplary of what can be accomplished when we all lock arms and focus on driving business success. Let this example inspire us to continue working together, strengthening our partnerships, and striving for even greater accomplishments in the future.