Paying The Price For Other’s Mistakes


Consequences. Life is full of them. Some occur whether you are expecting them or not. If you put your finger into a flame, for instance, your finger will get burned. While this may have been an unknown consequence the first time, you undoubtedly learned the consequence to this action immediately afterwards. Furthermore, you learned that the consequence of the burned finger was the result of your own action.

As a 7-Eleven franchisee, one quickly learns there are consequences to actions in your store. If you forget to transmit an order, you do not receive your product. The consequence is lost sales, lost profits, and potentially lost customers. While this is unfortunate, the franchisee knows the consequence is his or her fault.

There are good consequences, as well. A franchisee that orders the proper inventory, merchandises appropriately, and has the correct staffing levels receives the consequence of good sales and good profitability.

What frustrates franchisees, however, is when the consequences affecting them are not the result of their own doing. There are too many examples of problems caused at the corporate level that have a negative impact on franchisees and store operations. “Problems” roll downhill, as the saying goes, and franchisees are almost always at the bottom.

Every decision made in the Store Support Center appears to affect franchisees. Seemingly small changes or problems that seem innocent enough to a person sitting in an office have massive consequences in the stores. While a fix seems relatively small to implement at a single store, the time and resources spent in over 5,687 franchise stores is staggering.

It seems 7-Eleven, Inc. does not appreciate the consequences its employees’ actions have upon the franchise community, because there seems to be a lack consequences for the SEI employees who cause the problems. There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room called “The System” that no one seems to fully understand, but it receives all the blame. New store employees not receiving a paycheck for weeks or even a month; tenured store employees suddenly not receiving a paycheck; promo master items not operating properly; factoring of pre-booked items; recommended items from the recommended vendor factoring; EBT setup errors; price change anomalies—these are all problems coming from an SEI employee that require the franchisee to invest his time or an employee’s time to fix.

Does SEI realize that a $10 per hour employee spending ten minutes to address an SEI-caused problem costs the franchise community $10,000 in lost net income? What is the cost if franchisees or their store managers must correct the problem? What would it cost SEI to get it right the first time?

If you think I’m requesting accountability for the store operations we expect to run smoothly, yet do not, you are right. My comments are direct feedback from the field, which every franchisor and every businessman should value. Fix my problems and you’ve gone a long way towards fixing the system.