The Co-Prosperity Model: Franchisees, 7-Eleven, Inc., Vendors
The National Coalition and franchisees place a very high value on relationships with our vendor community. Our vendors provide the products that we sell in our stores, and support our customers with brand awareness. Every year, year after year, franchisees are flooded with information on innovative new products, changes in packaging and flavors, and line extensions on successful product lines that help provide incremental sales and profits for our stores.
According to the industry experts, over 2,000 products are introduced into the convenience store channel each year. Franchisees have provided and continue to provide our vendor partners with the first and best opportunity to place these products in our stores. You don’t have to look very hard to find recent success stories that include items like Chobani Yogurt, Takis and electronic cigarettes. When Red Bull was first released, stores were buying it, paying cash and putting it on their cash reports long before it was a recommended item. Today with over 7,000 stores, there are not many products 7-Eleven franchisees don’t hear about, and with Retailer Initiative, we will continue to make informed buying decisions at the store level for each of our own stores.
All of the new products we see create excitement, solve a problem, or answer a need for our guests. Vendor promotions and consumer advertising play a huge part in our guests’ awareness, and the franchisee’s ability to contribute to the new item process through Store Supported Items (SSIs) gives us flexibility in our product selection and supports sales through store-by-store customization of product sets.
For franchisees, there is no more important relationship in our business than the relationship between vendors, storeowners and our franchisor. We are at our best when we are working together to develop and bring to market the right products for our customers. With our wide distribution over 30 states, and our ever-developing distribution network and merchandise selections, working together is the biggest advantage we have over our competition.
Franchisees in their stores, interacting with customers, end up being the best source of knowledge and insight as to what “our” guests are looking for and ultimately what sells in our own stores. As 7-Eleven grows to 10,000 stores, franchisees will become even more critical to stay in touch with the customer. For the system to be as successful as it can be, FOA leadership that communicates with vendors and 7-Eleven is crucial to success.
When I first became NCASEF chairman my commitment to the Board was, “To raise everyone’s sales and profits.” We are all happy when we are making sales, satisfying our guests, and answering their needs. Vendors want to come back to our stores with their hottest-selling products. It is a win-win-win situation in which all parties benefit and are motivated by the prospect of growth and expansion.
It sounds easy, yet the c-store business has become so complicated today that there is much more to a co-prosperity model than just ordering, selling and getting paid. It is important for everyone to know that every morning when we pick up the MOT (mobile operations terminal) we are making the buying and merchandising decisions for our stores.
Selling to 7-Eleven is a three-pronged approach. Vendors want to get their products approved by SEI, and they must stay involved with franchisees to succeed. They also must follow through on distribution, with the best cost of goods, to remain in our stores. The franchisee/ vendor relationship thus becomes very important, even critical, to the sales of the vendor’s products.
The National Coalition and our regional FOA network are structured to provide vendors with numerous oppor- tunities to get in front of our franchisee members.
—Our Convention and Trade Show offers access to franchisees in a relaxed, selling-show environment that includes recommended as well as non-recommended vendors. This year’s show, scheduled for July 14-18 in Las Vegas, is the NCASEF’s 38th Annual event.
—NCASEF Board of Directors’ Meetings four times per year offer vendors the opportunity to present to our 80 Board members, two from each of our 40 Franchise Owner’s Associations that represent franchisees from every part of the country.
—At our Affiliate Member Program meetings two times per year vendors have the opportunity to meet with franchisee leaders top-to-top and one-on-one to get real-time feedback on their products, as well as hear presentations from franchisee leaders and from 7-Eleven senior executives and industry professionals. We now have over 150 companies in our Affiliate Member Program.
—Avanti Magazine is mailed six times per year approximately 6,000 franchised stores, the entire universe of franchisees, and our website provides a great introduction to our organization, as well as a great introduction to all of our regional member organizations.
All of these activities offer vendors an excellent return on investment, and can help support core products as well as the new item process, but ultimately, the way to sustain sales is to get the person in the store with the MOT in his or her hand to place the order, and continue to order on a repeat basis.
My goal every day is to grow franchisee sales and income. The more new innovative and hot-selling items we can get in front of franchisees, the more we all benefit. Same store sales growth is the benchmark for any successful company, and a partnership between franchisees, 7-Eleven and the vendor community is the only way we can continue to grow same store sales at a rate that outpaces the industry.
I wish everyone huge success in 2013, and I would like to thank our vendors, our NCASEF Board, our executive officers and all of the franchisees who supported the Coalition for all their hard work over the past year.