A You-Will-Win Attitude
7-Eleven, Inc., invented the convenience store concept almost 90 years ago; today, it has 55,000 locations – more than any other retailer in the world. The company has grown spectacularly in the past decade: In 2005, 7-Eleven operated just under 29,500 stores worldwide.
The stores are located on thousands of street corners, in neighborhoods, small towns and big cities, in airport terminals, office buildings, and on college campuses. They offer a variety of products, including proprietary beverages such as 7-Eleven coffee, Slurpee frozen drinks, and Big Gulp fountain soft drinks, as well as fresh foods and bakery products, hot foods, soda, energy drinks, beer and wine, 7-Select private brand snacks, and packaged goods – plus ATM, lottery tickets, and prepaid services. Every day, an estimated 7 million people shop at 7-Eleven just in the United States.
The company has concentrations of stores in 32 states and the District of Columbia. In 2013, global revenue was $86.6 billion. 7-Eleven has approximately 20,800 employees in the United States and Canada, excluding independent franchisees and their employees. Headquarters are in Dallas.
Veterans serve in every facet of the organization, from franchisees and store employees to field management staff and the executive office. 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto, credited with initiating many of the company’s veteran recruitment policies, is a former West Pointer who served in the United States Army before beginning his business career.
The company is always looking for a few good men and women, particularly military veterans, to become new independent business owners as 7-Eleven franchisees. The company also recruits veterans to its own work force. As its store count grows, so too does its need for additional management and support personnel.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | ED JAMES
One such employee is 7-Eleven Franchise Sales Representative Ed James, whose years of service span two branches of the military. He served in the Marine Corps from 1981 to 1985, then transitioned to the Air Force, where he served until the end of 1988 – mostly in air traffic control.
James left the service with the rank of captain. Since joining 7-Eleven in 2005, he has made it his mission to tell veterans about the business opportunities available at the company.
James credits his military contacts with helping him find his first civilian opportunity, and recognizes that the skills and experience he gained during his time in the Marine Corps still serve him well in the business world. Over time, James developed a no-quit attitude. He believes that, with hard work, everyone can achieve his or her goals, both personal and professional. That fits right in at 7-Eleven.
“Discipline plays a big role every day,” he said. “Company leadership is former military. They have a you-will-win attitude, and are there to help every step of the way.”
7-Eleven makes it easy for new franchisees to get started by providing a turn-key operation. After they complete their training, franchisees walk into an already merchandised store, ready to run. As their own bosses, 7-Eleven franchisees hire, train and supervise their employees and manage the day-to-day operations of the store.
As the company continues to grow through new store development and acquisitions, the organization is looking for more franchisees to operate stores and recognizes that veterans are well suited to make successful franchisees. They possess a can-do attitude, leadership skills, a strong work ethic and a team approach to getting the job done.
James said that veterans know how to execute plans and are comfortable working within a defined system. “All of the qualities learned in the military are important,” he said, “because good leadership and staff motivation can make a world of difference in the success of a store.”
7-Eleven has instituted a franchise-fee discount program for qualified retired or separated veterans who have been honorably discharged. Since 2009, 7-Eleven has given out more than $1 million in franchisee discounts to veterans.
Recently, 7-Eleven sponsored Operation: Take Command, a franchise-fee giveaway open exclusively to veterans. More than 1,500 entered the contest for the franchise-fee waiver, valued at up to $190,000 in savings. The winner will be announced in April 2015.
James doesn’t see his role as ending once he has successfully recruited a veteran as a 7-Eleven franchise. With a territory that covers Texas, he continues to mentor veteran franchisees in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Temple-Killeen areas, helping them transition into independent business owners. “My goal is to help them realize the American dream and become successful business owners,” he said.
Before servicemembers leave the military, James recommends that they take advantage of the education the military offers. “Get involved in classes either at a local college campus or on base,” he said. “Focus on classes like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that will teach you applicable and marketable skills for a career outside the military and prepare you for the civilian corporate world.”
As for landing a position at 7-Eleven, whether as an employee or franchisee, James recommends that servicemembers and veterans first take a look inward. “Look at your skill sets and align those skills with available positions within the organization,” he said. “7-Eleven offers a wide range of opportunities.”