Cautious Concern at 7-Eleven Franchisee Trade Show

Retailers rely on vendors, each other to help improve sales

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

VILLA PARK, Ill. -- Chicago-area 7-Eleven franchisees heard a lot of harsh talk during their annual trade show this past week. Zone sales, gross profit and gross profit percentage are all down 1.0% to 2.5%. Franchisee income is down 13% year to date. And competition is more intense than ever before.

"It used to be we had to worry about our true competition [other convenience stores]," said Joe Rossi, president of the 7-Eleven Franchisee Owners Association of Chicagoland (FOAC). "Now it's everybody taking a little nibble."

Underscoring the point, Bruce Maples, chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF), said, "Times are tough. There is no channel blurring anymore; we're all one channel."

To that end, the association leaders encouraged the franchisees to rely on each other and vendor partners to improve their fortunes and sell more "stuff."

"You've got a trade show to help you improve your income and set the best store you can," Rossi said.

Franchisee Jim Bayci set the stage for the trade show with some plan-o-gram advice. "Look at every section of your store as an apartment building," he said. "Think of each slot as an apartment: What do you do if you've got a tenant that isn't paying his rent? You evict him."

Using the cold vault as an example, Bayci recommended positioning the highest-margin products closest to the door handle with the margin thinning out from there. "Eye to thigh: Place biggest profit products here," he said.

Formed by Illinois and Indiana 7-Eleven franchisees in 1980, FOAC provides help and assistance to more than 300 member 7-Eleven franchisees.

For a complete report of the new products on display on the trade-show floor, see Tuesday's issue of CSP's Convenience Store Products e-newsletter.

Meanwhile, the FOAC celebrated its success in raising money to help build the new Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The association donated more than $100,000 to help fund construction of the new facility, which opened in June 2012. During the Trade Show, Lurie representative Beth Wolcott announced that the hospital would dedicate a 12th floor play room for in-patients to the FOAC. She invited the franchisees to attend a ribbon cutting next month, when a plaque will be hung in the room, where children work with artists to create drawings, poetry and other works of art.

“We can’t thank you enough for your support,” Wolcott said. “We treat 148,000 kids a year. These families come in and out of your stores every day, and you’re really giving back to them.”

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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