The Value Of Weekly Meetings With Your Business Consultant
In the past, it used to be that visits from our business consultants to our stores consisted of discussing new items, planning sales opportunities, and generally having them assist us in resolving certain issues in our stores that affect our businesses and us financially. Now that the 7-Eleven system has changed—and continues to do so with the implementation of many new programs and policy changes—so has our relationship with our business consultants.
Over the last few years, as our system has transformed—from BT rolling out in all areas, to the recent change to scan audits, the high standards of the monthly GEA surveys, and many others—what I’ve been hearing most from franchisees is, “I’m being told to do so many things in so little time.” Additionally, franchisees say they are increasingly growing frustrated because they are not getting the in-store support they used to from their business consultants to help implement and adjust to these changes, let alone to help resolve problems. Many franchisees I’ve spoken to said they’ve been told the primary function of the business consultant is to execute programs, not help resolve issues. This is unfortunate because there are many business consultants out there who truly want to help franchisees, but their access to resources is as limited as our own.
These days if you have an issue, you have to create a case on CHD online. How many times have cases been entered or questions asked with no answer? More often than not the case gets closed before you’ve even gotten an answer, which creates frustration and lowers morale. The recommendation is that you take the issue to your business consultant and to your market manager. I highly recommend that you get your local FOA involved because they can bring your concerns to the top, where at least there is documentation of your issue.
Whenever we meet with our business consultant—or for that matter, our market manager or Zone leader—to talk about anything that may impact our stores, the recommendation is to take notes and recap everything discussed in writing because even a minor suggestion can lead to a bigger problem down the road. By you having documentation of your meeting with your business consultant, if something were to arise in the future you can go back and prove the matter was discussed and any decisions made or disagreements were noted. Let them know that, as SEI has said, we want quality time to discuss growing our business and working it.
Once you’ve recapped your meeting with your business consultant, on their next visit to your store you should immediately take the lead and say to them, “I just want you to verify this is exactly what we talked about last week and make sure you are in agreement.” Then, have them acknowledge it. This way you are taking control of your meeting and you’re on the same level as they are, because you need to protect your store.
If you have any incident—regardless of whether it’s maintenance, financial, a GEA score, a concern over an audit, or a request for store improvements—taking notes and having it all written down and documented can potentially save you aggravation and money down the road. If you have a running weekly report of what was discussed with your business consultant, they can’t claim, “I didn’t know that,” or “We didn’t discuss that.”
The same goes for LONs. If you receive an LON or a breach from your market manager, it is the recommendation of the National Coalition and our FOA groups that you respond in writing and back up your actions with notes on why you did what you did. Fax, email or overnight your letter to SEI’s legal department, but keep a confirmation that your information was sent. If you must meet with SEI to solve the LON or breach, it is prudent to have someone along with you at the meeting. Often, FOA representatives are available to attend.
Documentation may not be an issue today, but in the final analysis it will help franchisees to be judged by the same standards as our franchisor.