Are We Partners Or Not?


I truly believe that 7-Eleven franchisees want to work in harmony with SEI.

Despite years of broken promises and, in many cases, unfair treatment, franchisees ultimately want to maintain peace with the powers that be. And, I can understand why. Their livelihoods depend on it. They don’t want to rock the boat or confront SEI out of fear of having their businesses taken away from them. They will do anything and everything in their power to protect what’s theirs, even if it requires some sacrifice on their part. They have chosen to remain silent in order to preserve the peace and guard the 7-Eleven brand.

But despite the non-confrontational approach taken by my fellow franchisees, and their willingness to “go with the flow” and accept the unfair treatment by upper management, SEI continues to implement plans and schemes that have caused emotional and financial distress to its franchisees.

And now, as we all know, there are lawsuits in various parts of the country between SEI and its franchisees because of the unfair way in which franchisees are being treated by corporate. Believe me, franchisees didn’t pick this fight; it was forced upon them. I don’t know any of my fellow franchisees who would choose to pursue a legal battle like this. The time and money involved, coupled with tremendous stress, is not something anyone would wish for.

But here’s the reality: good partners shouldn’t have to settle their disputes in the courtroom. Good partners should have open and honest communication in order to discuss their issues and find resolution. A healthy, growing franchise system like 7-Eleven should be able to compromise and find a way to work together so they can develop a strong relationship with their franchisees and build a partnership based on mutual respect and trust.

SEI’s president and CEO, Joe DePinto, realizes this and thankfully has started the process of rebuilding trust. He is reaching out to franchisees all over the country to hear what they have to say, which is certainly commendable. However, the steps he is taking in an effort to repair SEI’s relationship with its franchisees must be matched by real actions. It’s time that SEI considers giving back to franchisees what was unfairly taken away over the past several years.

There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a very challenging time for Joe DePinto and his team. It’s going to require courage to make some much needed changes, but in the end I am confident that it will build a stronger partnership between SEI and the franchisees—something both parties want.

I hope and believe that Joe will rise to the challenge and do what’s right. We need to resolve the issues for the benefit of all franchisees. Our future and our success as partners depend upon it.