The Challenge Of Change
The national elections are over, but our work has just begun. It has been a hard and grueling season of hope and promise. Each of the candidates who stood for an executive office, from chairman to executive vice chair to treasurer, was motivated by a sincere desire to see the day-to-day burdens of franchisees lessened and to make the future brighter. Although I ran for the position of executive vice chair and lost, I totally respect the outcome of the National Coalition election and the choices made by my fellow franchisees.
As a 7-Eleven franchisee, today more than ever, I’m in survival mode. Charles Darwin said it best, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Today, I struggle to survive and adapt to live with credit card fees, loss of gasoline income, the graduated 7-Eleven charge, loss of lease, a BCP conversion across the street or 8/10 of a mile away, government regulation, and/or ObamaCare.
When I purchased my first 7-Eleven store, I thought I bought myself into a system that would offer me support, guidance, and protection from competitors. Amazing how I am “challenged to change”: I can compete against any other c-store, but not against another 7-Eleven. Today, I’m in survival mode and must make drastic changes—I sell coffee at $1, beer at near cost, CRP on other products, and so on and so on … why? Because I cannot compete against that newer 7-Eleven. No matter how much I scrub the shelves, walls and floors, they will never be sparkling clean.
Now more than ever, we as a group must come together as one solid voice and fight for the future of 7-Eleven. We must band together to ensure that not only will this business model be successful today, but that it continues to be a success. We must come together, as one, to protect our independence as individual storeowners.
Where we must come together is as franchisees standing and defending those very things that make this system successful. We do NOT need the unity of thought and opinion; we need the unity that comes from our diversity. We need the unity of the pursuit of freedom, the freedom to make each 7-Eleven a special and unique place that is decidedly geared towards being “my 7-Eleven” in the mind of our guests. Yes, we must have a consistent high quality brewed coffee, but we also must have a premier enchilada or tamale for our large Latino customer base.
What is NOT needed is a one-size-fits-all solution from well-meaning category managers in Dallas. We as franchisees, and our employees, are the frontline decision-makers who should have the ability to select and order items our customers want, need and demand. Remember, it was franchisees who poured the first cup of coffee, steamed the first hot dog and dispensed the first cold fountain soda. Initially, 7-Eleven’s response was, “You can’t do that.” We must shed the mantra of “You can’t do that” and return to the days of “How can we help you better serve the guests?”
Finally, let’s not continue to push the politics of the election over the next two years. The opponent is across the parking lot, or down the street, not in our meeting rooms. Futile disputes over power and prestige will only cause us to divide into factions. When that happens, we as franchisees lose and everyone else wins, including the convenience store down the street.
Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours.