Single Store Owner

OCT 2016

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48 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / OCTOBER 2016 When asked why she thinks more women do not become franchisees, Zak said she believes there may be concerns about personal security and the time commitment. "There's no off time. It's a huge com- g commitment. "There's no off time. It's a huge com- mitment for women with families." At the same time, Zak feels strongly that being a mother helps her to be a better c-store operator. "If you can run a house with three kids, business is pretty easy," she remarked. In addition to influencing her desire to be an entrepreneur, Zak's father inadvertently helped her avoid gender categorization. "I was raised by my dad as an only child. There's no 'woman stigma' that sticks to me; I don't think anything is off-limits. I look at it like, 'OK, I want to do that.' Everybody around me was very supportive. I never saw resistance." The Real 24/7 Being a franchisee involves tough days and chal- lenges. It is a 24-hour business. If an employee does not show up or something goes wrong, the owner must be available — 24/7, literally. And, in the be- ginning, the franchisee must contend with getting the infrastructure in place and training employees. "You worry because it's your whole investment and you have to get it rolling. If you have a good team and you're committed to them and they're committed to you, it works," Zak said. "I put in long days in the beginning. Now, I have some work/life balance." Unlike many franchised businesses, Zak's stores do not have high turnover. A high point in her 7-Eleven career came this past February when she received the company's Retail Initiative Award, which recognizes excellence in over- all merchandise sales and category sales increases in areas like fresh food. The honor is given annually to the top three franchisees in each market during the 7-Eleven Experience, the retailer's annual conference in Las Vegas. "We went to Las Vegas for the award, which was a big honor. I did it and didn't have anyone help me," Zak said. "My family is happy. I'm able to provide for them and they're there when I need them. I have a lot of pride in my accomplishment." SSO interchangeable. If you develop the customer, they'll go out of their way to see you, in addition to seeing the brand." Giving Veterans Their Next Mission 7-Eleven's franchising operation aggressively targets veterans and has been recognized by several veterans' organizations. CEO Joe DePinto, a retired U.S. Army officer, is a big advocate. "A 7-Eleven franchise is a natural fit for veter- ans," DePinto states on the company's franchising website. "They add solid leadership skills and strong discipline to the creativity, energy and spirit of entre- preneurship. They are good at dealing with people and with day-to-day challenges. Veterans know how to get a mission done." For veterans who have been out of the military y For veterans who have been out of the military for less than five years, 7-Eleven offers a 20-percent discount off the regular franchisee fee of $190,000- plus. Those who served more than five years ago re- ceive a 10-percent discount. According to a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, 81 franchisees have taken advantage of the discount since its July 2009 inception. The company also stages an annual veteran's contest in which it waves the fee for the winner. For Zak, the military discount was an added attraction. And when she talks about veterans as c-store operators, her thoughts closely mirror DePinto's. "You don't become a veteran by being wishy-washy. Veterans are goal-oriented, methodical and know how to prioritize. It makes a difference with the staff. You have to care about people or they won't care about you." Adding a Feminine Touch 7-Eleven has almost 10,700 stores in the United States; more than 6,600 are franchised. Of those, the spokeswoman said 1,298 franchised locations list women as their primary operators. In the Jacksonville market, Zak is the only female franchisee. The Roads Less Traveled • Veterans make up 6 percent of the U.S. adult population. (Vet Fran) • Of active U.S. military personnel, 14.5 percent (about 203,000) are women: 74,000 Army; 53,000 Navy; 62,000 Air Force; and 14,000 Marine Corps. (Pentagon) • Since its July 2009 inception, 81 franchisees have taken advan- tage of the 7-Eleven veteran's discount. Franchisee-fee discounts have totaled $1.5 million. (7-Eleven Inc.) • Out of 7-Eleven's more than 6,600 U.S. franchisees, 1,298 loca- tions list women as their primary operators. (7-Eleven Inc.) • Among franchised businesses, convenience stores are among the top three choices for veterans. (Vet Fran) • 14 percent of franchised businesses are owned by vets. (Vet Fran) Zak believes being a mother helps her be a better convenience store operator.

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