Single Store Owner

OCT 2016

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46 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / OCTOBER 2016 said Zak, who spent four years in the Navy, attain- said Zak, who spent four years in the Navy, attain- ing the rank of ET3 (Electronics Petty Officer, Third ing the rank of ET3 (Electronics Petty Officer, Third Class). "We looked closely at Dairy Queen, which wasn't set up in a way I felt comfortable with for the future, and Chick-fil-A , which had a very strict model. 7-Eleven was close to what I was looking for and felt more like a partnership." The 7-Eleven model gives operators all they need to run a c-store, according to the retailer. "Our franchise model includes everything but the kitchen sink," touts the franchisee portion of Irving, Texas- based based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, 7-Eleven based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, Inc.'s based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, website. based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, "Come based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, to think based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, of based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, it, based 7-Eleven Inc.'s website. "Come to think of it, the kitchen sink is included!" 7-Eleven also provides the store, land and equipment, plus extensive train- ing and support. Training encompasses six weeks. Topics range from the sophisticated to the mundane. "You're at a store every day almost," said Zak. "You learn how to make coffee, how to do paperwork, clean bathrooms, how to interview somebody — it's A to Z." Zak opened her first 7-Eleven franchise store in Middleburg, Fla., in December 2012, followed by a Jacksonville location in December 2013. While both stores sell fuel, the markets are very different. The ability to do her own buying lets her tailor the prod- uct mix of each location. She also procures merchan- dise through the company and its wholesale distribu- tors. Offerings are organized according to geographic zone and include items like regional foods. "I can bring in Star Wars stuff on my own if there's a big following of young people. Or, I can get Hispanic stuff. If I find somebody selling toys, I can buy them. One store manager kept getting requests for Old Milwaukee. There's a lot of that. It involves getting to know your customers personally." One-on-one relationships make the job reward- ing. "If feels good when people come in happy," she said. "One customer had a bad day and then said an employee made his day." In Jacksonville, Zak must introduce younger cus- tomers to the 7-Eleven brand. More than 20 years ago, 7-Eleven signed a non-compete agreement with Gate Petroleum Co. When 7-Eleven left the market, Gate acquired 28 of its stores. That agreement expired in 2011, however, and 7-Eleven returned to Jacksonville. "It's building the customer base and then the brand," said Zak. "Because we're so new, it's almost W hen it comes to certain careers, women are still in the minority. This is particularly true in the military, engineer- ing, and convenience store franchising. Shannon Zak, though, has pursued all three. The U.S. Navy veteran though, has pursued all three. The U.S. Navy veteran with a B.A. in electrical engineering owns two Florida 7-Eleven stores. In her day-to-day life, Zak is anything but unusual. In her day-to-day life, Zak is anything but unusual. As the married mother of three young children, she is like like many working women who must balance home many working like many working women who must balance home women who like many working women who must balance home must balance like many working women who must balance home home like many working women who must balance home life, child care and business. She has also embraced the same career as many of her older relatives. "Everybody in my family owns their own busi- ness; my father never worked for anyone," said Zak, who minored in business in college. "I worked for all of them at one time or another and understand how [business] works." Five years ago, Zak decided to buy into a franchise. She wanted one that would provide autonomy. And she did not want to pay a monthly franchisee fee. "My husband and I looked at different models," Navy vet Shannon Zak is among just 20 percent of 7-Eleven franchisees who are women Navy vet Shannon Zak is among just 20 percent of 7-Eleven franchisees who are women BY DEBBY GARBATO A Life of Service Zak was recently awarded 7-Eleven's Retail Initiative Award, given annually to the top three franchisees in each market.

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