CHICAGO — On the heels of what he called possibly the best-attended national convention ever, Joe Galea was proud to announce that he will seek a second term as chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees this week.
“This is going to be one of our most successful conventions ever,” Galea said of the week-long event that brought hundreds of 7-Eleven franchisees to Chicago for workshops, a golf tournament, networking opportunities and a two-day tradeshow at historic Navy Pier.
7-Eleven Inc.’s presence was most obvious on the far end of the tradeshow, where corporate employees and local assistants displayed by wide collection of new, proprietary products—from a complete line of beef jerky and fresh fruit to sandwiches and an improved pizza crust that’s part of a program that allows retailers to make a pizza in just 3 minutes. (Watch for a slideshow of the new products on CSPnet.com in coming days.)
To Galea, the highlight of the display of new products, along with the numerous new options from vendors, was the focus on hot foods.
“Hot food is their [7-Eleven Inc.’s] emphasis,” said Galea, a franchisee with a single 7-Eleven convenience store in northern California. “For a lot of franchisees, this is a first venture into hot foods. … It’s going to give us the opportunity to compete with Burger King and the other QSRs out there.”
Galea, speaking exclusively to CSP Daily News during the event, said 7-Eleven has stepped up its training for franchisees, improving the likelihood they will succeed with hot foods and other programs created by the corporate partner. That, he said, is part of an overall improvement in communication between the coalition and 7-Eleven executives.
“I think I’ve opened up that relationship,” Galea said. “My executive team has met with 7-Eleven’s executive team. We have a very open relationship. … I think we both admit there’s still opportunity for improvement.”
That’s one area Galea said he’ll continue to focus on if he is reelected to a second 2-year term. Another is setting the stage for a new franchise agreement. The current agreement ends in 2019.
“The National Coalition needs to have a seat at that table,” Galea said. “Our labor [costs] have gone up across the country because of all the minimum-wage talk that’s going on.”
A separate issue, as 7-Eleven has increased its acquisition activity in recent years, is encroachment.
“With more and more stores being added to the system, it becomes a very real concern: What happens when you see another 7-Eleven store opening just down the street?”
But Galea is confident those issues can be overcome through negotiation.
“We’re in this together,” he said. “They’re in the business of trying to franchise stores, and we’re in the business of maximizing the business.”
The next coalition election takes place in October. Galea’s current term as chairman will end Dec. 31.