The Hot Foods Program And My Store
When 7-Eleven Inc. approached me about installing the hot foods program in my store my initial reaction was one of great anticipation because I had heard from franchisees around the country that the business was good if you had the proper clientele in the proper location. I was eager to find out. This was going to be a big change for my store and my customers and I wanted to do it right and not hurt my already tight sales.
In talking with my Zone Leader Mike Scales and my former market manager Anthony Bartoli, I informed them of my firm belief that any kind of food business requires three basic components: 1) the store should look like a food service place to its customers; 2) it should have a sufficient customer base to support the food service program; and 3) the store should have advertising to let the customers know of the new program and bring in new customers. They told me they would help me as much as possible to fulfill at least two of the requirements, and they did.
Initially the plan for my store was to install an oven and a hot foods case, but I balked at the idea, because my old tired layout was not suitable to sell hot foods and I insisted that SEI change the layout to make it more accommodating for selling hot foods. Over a period of several weeks Mike and Anthony worked with Real Estate to change my look and establish a food service store environment.
Within a very short time, my customers started to notice the changes and like me, showed a great deal of interest, anticipation and excitement. We know with any new program there is a period of initial excitement, then a cooling off period followed by a more realistic sustainable period that provides the honest reality about whether or not you made the right decisions with the program. With my low customer base, I really feel I took a chance that hot foods and a new look to my store would ultimately increase my customer count to offset the added labor costs related to this new program.
Over the last three weeks my hot foods venture has been a great experience because I like changes with challenges. I found that an increase in total labor hours from 244 per week to 266 hours per week is absolutely necessary to provide good, fast service to the customers. It is too early to make an accurate determination about the financial impact this new venture will have on my low volume store, so I have a “wait and see” attitude about it. I will let you know how it turns out. I have a good feeling that there will be a happy ending to this new hot foods program for me.