Will Big Brother Be Watching?


Franchisees around the country are very concerned about 7-Eleven’s plans to install new DVR security systems in all franchised stores. Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully in favor of replacing the old VHS systems we have that we can’t even buy tapes for anymore. Franchisees should actually welcome the arrival of the DVR, since we have a right to secure our investment and our livelihood. Many of us have the old VCRs, which haven’t been used for years, and we are still being charged, or we have upgraded the security system at our own expense.

As good and welcomed as the new DVR security systems will be, many franchisees, myself included, are more concerned that 7-Eleven will be able to monitor each and every store remotely from their offices in Dallas. I am worried that market managers are going to watch us remotely at night, see that there is only one clerk on duty and a line of customers, and issue the store an LON because of it.  Our franchisor says it won’t happen, but we remain skeptical. Realistically, no one could possibly monitor over 6,000 stores in real time, but this is the problem: franchisees are upset that Big Brother is coming online casino slot to watch us and make us less than independent operators. According to the National Coalition’s general counsel, SEI has the right to install any equipment they want in our stores. We need to have 7-Eleven put in writing exactly how they will use the DVR.

If 7-Eleven Loss Prevention really wants to help us, the moment they find out something dubious is going on in our store, they need to come to the franchisee immediately.  The majority of franchisees will be receptive to that and handle the situation by firing the employee or whatever is appropriate. In addition, ninety days is acceptable to us for researching loss, but they could go back and charge us for one year. The one thing that will bring deep division between the franchisees and 7-Eleven is Big Brother watching us and issuing LONs for things we have not even considered. I believe the number of LONs issued will increase as a result of this, not immediately, but it will happen.

Three years ago, I became aware that someone in my store was refunding cartons of cigarettes to himself and pocketing the money.  I watched the tapes and called him in for a meeting and he confessed that he had stolen $3,000.  He had been with me for 11 years, and I didn’t want to fire him.  I would have lost a valuable employee AND $3,000.  I let him pay me back the money over the next couple of months and let him know that I would be watching him more closely.  He is still working for me today. What happens in this situation now, when SEI is involved because it witnessed the theft, either in real time or in researching a loss?