The Value Of Franchisee Community Engagement

By Joe Rossi, NCASEF Executive Vice Chair

Now that we’ve made it past the 100 Days of Summer, it seems apt to step back and assess not just our individual accomplishments but also our collective gains as part of the 7-Eleven franchisee community. We’ve weathered many storms together, including the impact of COVID-19 that disrupted the business environment on an unprecedented scale. While we are getting back to some sense of normalcy, there are still challenges we need to address collectively, such as labor issues and crime. Despite these hurdles, one thing remains clear: now is the time to reconnect with our franchisee community.

The past couple of years have been so centered on survival that many of us have inadvertently neglected the community aspect of being a 7-Eleven franchisee. But it’s important to remember that we didn’t get to where we are by isolating ourselves. We built our businesses by getting involved in our stores’ communities, by participating in events that brought people into our stores, and by supporting our fellow franchisees. The power of community isn’t just a feel-good concept, it’s a business imperative. Our local FOA meetings, for example, are not mere social gatherings—they are occasions for mutual learning and growth.

Think about the last time you attended a local FOA meeting or event. These aren’t just opportunities to take a break from your daily grind—they’re crucial venues to share knowledge, solve common problems, and develop strategies for collective success. Even when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day, making time for FOA meetings and events is essential. The value derived from discussing issues with fellow franchisees—often leading to actionable insights—can’t be overstated.

Soon, most local FOAs will host holiday parties. Make it a point to attend. These events offer a unique setting to understand your fellow franchisees as individuals, which can strengthen your professional relationships. After all, business isn’t always just about numbers, it’s also about people. And speaking of numbers, sharing knowledge with other franchisees at the annual NCASEF convention and trade show can also be invaluable. Many franchisees have reported implementing strategies learned at these events that have led to measurable improvements in their store performances.

Mark your calendar now for future franchisee community events, whether they are local FOA meetings, the NCASEF convention, or NCASEF Board meetings. Pre-planning ensures that you’ll make the time to be present and engaged. You might be surprised at how much you can learn from a national meeting, even if it’s not in your immediate locality. The larger the gathering, the broader the cross-section of experience and the richer the potential learning.

The fundamental truth is, we improve through interaction. Some of the most innovative ideas come from casual conversations where someone shares a tactic they’ve been quietly employing at their store. Such insights can be game-changing, bringing about increased revenue or operational efficiencies. Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of subgroups within our larger franchisee community. If you find that your specific subgroup of a handful of 7-Eleven owners—be it regional or issue-focused—is not doing enough, take the initiative to organize activities. An informal lunch with a focused discussion topic can spark ideas that benefit everyone involved.

In a time when it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of our individual stores, let’s not forget the immense value that lies in franchisee community engagement. Let’s not forget to give back. As we head into the year-end and look forward to 2024, my message to each of you is this: reconnect, engage, and contribute to our franchisee community. It’s good for business and our brand.