Why Is This USE Not Local?
In the old days, 7-Eleven would hold University of 7-Eleven (USE) events in local market areas and would repeat these in more than a dozen or two areas around the country. It was exceptionally gratifying to go to a USE, meet with the market manager, shake hands with the Division vice president, and float around the trade show side-by-side with my field consultant, who shared the experience and transferred it, with me, to my store. We could explore new products, attend seminars, and spend some time together not in the store.
In most cases, vendor representatives from our most valued vendors would exhibit at a mini trade show, and new vendors would be introduced. 7-Eleven would display all the new products planned for the CDC, and there would be a meal or two. Only a small number of franchisees would have to stay overnight, and we all treated it like a confidence-building exercise from start to finish. It created camaraderie, served as a networking event, and provided a backdrop in which we could solve problems and circulate opportunities informally among our group.
This was the way to hold a USE. It was a win-win-win situation for everyone—SEI, franchisees and vendors. The vendors would give us information on the latest products and promotions, and we could discuss pricing, credits, and distribution issues while we were taking advantage of the product opportunities our vendors would offer.
Let me explain. I am all for the University of 7-Eleven experience, but I prefer it on a local level, in a Zone, where every franchisee has the opportunity to attend, and not have to travel and take time from our stores to do so. Our local vendors would be able to attend the show, and we would have built-in Zone meeting time and time to talk to our market managers, our FCs and the local vendor representatives in the market. It is a local affair, and everyone benefits. Franchisees don’t have to stay overnight, we don’t have to spend money to travel. Franchisees, benefit vendors benefit and SEI benefits.
In those areas where Business Transformation has been introduced, a local USE focusing on the operational challenges and the opportunities of BT could be well advised. To me, having a USE in a store is not a USE.
I am also a bit concerned about the amount of money being spent by vendors on the USE, as I am a firm believer that if you have a trade show, you invest something to gain something, and I’m not sure that is what the new USE planned by SEI and scheduled to be held in Las Vegas in January is all about. Wouldn’t it be great to meet management from Dallas, in the local market, and not have to pay to attend the USE?
At my age maybe I’ve got too much longing for the old days, but I remember our local USEs as cohesive family events that were very rewarding for the franchisee to attend. Maybe I just don’t want to think those days are gone forever.