The Problems With 7-Eleven Day In Chicago


In Chicago during the dog days of summer when most of us experience our highest sales of the year I am reticent to take a day out of my very busy schedule to give away FREE Slurpees on 7-Eleven’s annual birthday. I say this not because I am loathe to promote my brand, but because of all the problems I have to deal with on that day.

In Chicago the summer is short, and 90-degree temperatures are a rarity. We pray for the days the heat rises to 90 degrees because we sell a lot of Slurpee, and the busiest part of the store is our walk-in cooler.

On July 11 of this year Chicagoland franchisees’ prayers were answered and it was 90 degrees, and hot and humid, a perfect day to sell lots of Slurpees, water and other drinks. Instead of selling we were giving away FREE Slurpees, all day from 11 am to 7 pm, and we lost a golden opportunity to make some money to compensate for those cold days when it gets really slow and we don’t do much business.

If we consider the 100 days of summer our most profitable time of year, then I’m sacrificing 1 percent of that most profitable time to promote my brand. I need extra help to control the traffic, and we experience higher rates of shoplifting. 7-Eleven free Slurpee day is so popular now, especially due to social media, that many of the folks we see will never be back. Some of our franchisees actually get busloads of children or community groups, and at this point I’m not sure that we are bringing in a lot of new customers.

Any large group causes lines and cleanliness issues, and on this day our regular customers look inside and then walk out. They don’t want to stand in line and wait 10 minutes for a free Slurpee or to get their regular cup of coffee.

My suggestion is to take a hard look at reconstructing the promotion and linking it to coupons or the 7-Eleven app. If people are going to get a free Slurpee, they should have a loyalty card. We should be capturing these customers for future business. Some stores from morning to evening have 30 people lining up, and these folks don’t understand that the promotion ends at 7 pm.

Many franchisees with low volume stores in the Chicago area were not in favor of this free giveaway day, and many were in fact upset to the point of not wanting to participate next year. High volume stores and many multiple franchisees supporting this event are not themselves hands-on operators, and don’t experience the frustration low volume storeowners feel.

Chicagoland low volume stores eagerly wait for the hot summer and especially for those 90 degree days to ring up some big sales to make up for those cold days when their business barely survives. A coupon or a 7-Eleven app promotion would be more organized and easier to control, and franchisees would not have to sacrifice profits from one of the 100 days of summer to gain extra customers.