The Beatings Will Continue Until The Morale Improves!


An organization is in many ways a living, breathing organism. It will have a structure, a purpose and a mission. The various parts must be in relative cohesion to the whole lest chaos prevails, and if there is chaos then the organism may well get sick and possibly die. This applies to entities great and small, from families to far-flung international corporations. The word corporation has its origin in Latin meaning body. If the body turns on itself then decay and decline ensue.

The human body’s immune system when faced with an attack will come to the defense of the body to ward off the invader. All available energy will be consumed with defeating the foe. However, sometimes the immune system becomes weakened and can no longer fight or worse, the immune system turns on its host and begins attacking itself. When that happens the body is in for a long battle. Cancers overwhelm the immune system, leaving little energy to fight outside invaders.

Lately, it seems that this is what is happening in our own “7-Eleven body.” Our body is made up of SEI, the franchisees, the vendors and even our guests. The external invader is the competition, whether it is another chain, or the store down the street. But we seem to have turned on ourselves. The new marketing slogan from Dallas seems to be, “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves!” Operations folks, from field consultants to market managers to zone leaders, seem to be engaging in threats of reprisal for various franchisee failures to comply with ever changing, ever moving standards based on ill-defined criteria. Each week field consultants are “requesting” adherence to processes and procedures that have not shown any reasonable likelihood of generating profits, only to have a new technique “requested” later. This saps the energy of the body to ward off attacks from the real enemy.

I have had the privilege of having met and worked with some of the finest examples of franchisee leadership from all corners of this country. These men and women each are dedicated to one thing and one thing only, the growth and stability of their store(s) and the 7-Eleven franchise system. Lately, their efforts have been challenged. All too often lately I am getting frantic calls about representatives of our franchisor engaging in threatening and abusive behavior. The morale of the franchisee community is at an all-time low, and taking care of our guest is no longer a priority today, because we all must ensure that the checklist is complete … or else! Why is this so, and where does it lead? Does anyone benefit when the “Four Horsemen: Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration and Despair” arrive at the store for another round of “my way or the highway?”

Nicholas Kristoff, a reporter for the New York Times, did an interesting piece, “When Happy Cows Produce Happy Milk,” September 8, 2012. The owner of this dairy farm stated, “Live stocks don’t have to be abused to be profitable for their owners.” Do you see where I am going with this? (You can email me to get the link to this article.) The bottom line is that if the franchisees and many of the other folks on this Dallas “ranch” are not being appreciated and/or taken care of, then we are all in for a bad ride.

Folks will turn to legal remedies, which will only worsen the current cancerous atmosphere. I’m a self motivated and an objective person, and for the last few years listening to many franchisees and off-the-record comments from SEI folks, we all feel that we are not being appreciated and not being heard. These are the same comments that I shared with Joe DePinto and his team in August 2011 at our co-chairs meeting, and my concerns were confirmed by Jeff Schenck as he had just attended our NCASEF Convention. Sadly, the relationship, instead of getting better, has gotten worse and is still suffering.

I would love to hear from you. As a franchisee are you better off today than when you signed your contract? Is the new agreement really workable? Do feel appreciated by SEI? These are my thoughts and I would love to hear yours.