Morale And Enthusiasm Builds At Long Island CDC Meeting


I recently attended a meeting in Long Island, New York between area franchisees and SEI to discuss removing the CDC flat fee and instead implementing a merchandise markup model. The meeting included National Coalition Chairman Bruce Maples, UFOLI President Tariq Khan, SEI Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Logistics Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, Vice President of Group Merchandising Bob Cozens, and Logistics Senior Director Christi Clinger, as well as several UFOLI Board Member franchisees. The agenda was set by SEI, so I expected this meeting to be like every other one we’ve had with our franchisor. Boy, was I wrong.

After SEI introduced the agenda, we started to discuss the changes to the CDC delivery system and the flat fee. Franchisees, true to spirit, began asking questions and voicing concerns regarding the reason and logic behind certain decisions made by corporate.

At some point during the meeting, the discussion turned to CDC mer- chandising opportunities, or what the CDC can, and actually should, deliver to our stores. The meeting then took a reversal, which was very positive, and you could sense the enthusiasm build in the room. Both franchisees and SEI agreed that we indeed have opportunities to utilize this system. It was a welcomed sight to see. Franchisees were asked for input, and we had an honest discussion. Not only was the meeting very positive, but it also led to a committee being formed. Tariq Khan was instrumental in assembling the committee, and he was able to rally his folks and raise their enthusiasm during the meeting. The committee, which is comprised of franchisees and SEI folks headed by Christi Clinger, will soon meet to discuss new and potential items that we can bring through the CDC.

Moving forward, if this is the model SEI is going to use in regard to the CDC—seeking franchisee input for merchandising opportunities—I think we have paved the way back to the intent of franchised systems: a cooperative effort between franchisees and management. I have always said that we, as franchisees, have bought into a franchise system, and I believe when you buy into a franchise system the franchisor has an obligation to sit with you and work with you to meet the needs of your guests. Leaving this meeting, the overall feeling we walked away with was optimism. We believe this CDC model will work, which is great because we want to stay ahead of our competition with new items.

Given how the slumping economy has been affecting retail businesses in general, one of the biggest things we can gain from this communication model is that we have returned to what the franchise system needs to do—meet with franchisees, listen to our concerns, and work with us to meet our guests’ needs. We did this many years ago and I think we’ve drifted away from it. Getting back to this model of inclusion and open communication is a positive win for both franchisees and SEI. After all, we are partners in the stores we operate.

I want to thank all the franchisees that attended the meeting. It was great to see your enthusiasm and morale on the rise.