Vendors’ Support Is Crucial To Our Mutual Success
As I write this article, I am on a flight to the 7-Eleven Experience (7EE). The flight is completely full, and most of the passengers are local franchisees and vendors who service our stores. The 7EE offers franchisees a great opportunity to see and identify ways to build their business, and also offers vendors an opportunity to showcase their products to franchisees and 7-Eleven employees. The first few years of the 7EE did not offer vendors an opportunity to sell their products, but that has changed. This year franchisees received a Pre-book Order Guide upon registering so they could place orders on the spot. This is great for the vendors, but it comes at a cost to the greater franchisee community.
The National Coalition’s membership continues to grow as more FOAs form and join—a direct consequence of SEI’s recent and continuing expansion throughout the country. Vendor support is crucial to the success of our local FOAs and the National Coalition because without it regional and national franchisee events like trade shows, charity golf tournaments and community events would not be possible. However, given the growing number of FOAs and their local events—coupled with their commitment to exhibit at the 7EE—vendors are now saying they feel it is becoming financially difficult to participate in every franchisee event. Last year there were some 20 or so local FOA trade shows. This required vendors to travel to 20 locations and spend days travelling and in hotels. Not only does this cost the vendors time, it also reduces their financial resources that can be used to benefit our members.
Franchisees and vendors need to maintain a relationship that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Let us be realistic—we are in the business of selling goods and services to our guests, to optimize our profits and make a living for our families. Our vendor partners are in the business of selling their products to any merchant who will buy them, to maximize their profits and shareholder value. 7-Eleven is in the business to sell franchises. In order to cement and strengthen the relationships between us and our vendor friends, franchisees at both the local and national level must change some of their behavior. This is critical to the survival of our associations. What can local FOAs do?
One answer is to hold consolidated trade show events, much like the FOA of Greater L.A. and the San Diego FOA do every year. The Central Florida and South Florida FOAs also do it, as well as the Chesapeake-area FOAs. These consolidated trade shows help to reduce the financial strain on vendors and offer them the opportunity to get more bang for their buck as they see more franchisees at one event. Local FOAs need to work together, and where possible, consolidate their Trade Shows. The local FOAs also need to encourage their franchisees to attend the National Coalition Convention and Trade Show, to be held July 24-28 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel.
What can individual franchisees do? When you attend your local FOA meeting or trade show, visit with the vendors. Take the time to learn about their products and/or services. Determine if what they have to offer would help your business. If it does, then place an order right then and there. Vendors and exhibitors at trade shows are there to take orders for products. If they do not get adequate order activity they will take their promotional dollars to people and places that will honor and appreciate it.
We cannot assume that the supplier community will be available to support these events. It must be mutually beneficial for a vendor and the franchisees, but the expectation of the vendor is they are there to make a sale. If their product or service does not work for your store, you are under no obligation to purchase it.
Additionally, attend the National Coalition Convention and Trade Show. This event offers plenty of opportunities to meet and network with our vendors, as well as SEI and National Coalition leadership. This premier event, now in its 41st year, is one place where we as franchisees can gather, meet with our peers, exchange ideas and find products and services just right for our stores. It is an experience you will not want to miss! Our future and yours depends on it!