Oct 4, 2017
As a former banker, John Hays worked for many great financial institutions in the Western Hemisphere. Work with Citibank and Banamex took him from Puerto Rico to Argentina, Mexico and Chile. He even had a very successful stint in the competitive European market. Only the depth of the experience he acquired in these diverse markets matched the breadth of his environs. “I’ve run almost every banking product: credit cards, leasing companies, auto loan businesses and finance mortgages.”
While in Puerto Rico, John took up flying. He got as far as earning his pilot’s license, putting it on hold before any “serious flying” because he wanted his wife to “sleep better at night.” Given his work as Citibank’s Senior Vice President of Products—a position that covered 11 Latin American countries — you could argue that he’s done plenty of flying anyway. And all of these came before John accepted an appointment as CEO of a consumer credit company serving Romania and Bucharest, which lead to even more jet-setting.
To understand why he left banking, you have to understand what drove him. “Ownership” is big in John’s entrepreneurial view of life, and that’s hard to get in the large business operations he helped grow. “I mean, you get the benefit of owning your growth in your bonuses, but it’s not really your businesses growth, is it?” he explained. John left Banamex having taken his group from making little money to $250 million. In Romania, he quintupled his bank’s revenue. “But, again... not really my business,” Hays expressed.
Desiring ownership coupled with a need to be available to his wife and growing family of five kids, John decided to finally start his own business. The level-headed banker chose franchising rather than starting from scratch. The clearness of franchise company missions and the security of their infrastructure made sense to him. He looked at Chik-Fil-A, Subway and McDonald’s. Why franchising? “Ninety percent of small businesses fail. In franchising, and specifically at 7-Eleven, 90 percent of businesses renew contracts,” John Hays pointed out. “While there is still a risk, the failure rate is very low.” This is just one fact that attracted John to 7-Eleven where he is now a very proud multi-store owner.
Another reason that drew John to the 7-Eleven family was the company’s core value of service. As an active member of Habitat for Humanity and the United Way, John explained, “7-Eleven’s clear commitment to community betterment” appealed to him. As a Franchisee, John donates to local homeless shelters and does what he can to make sure the indigent population is treated with respect at his stores. He has also opened his stores’ meeting space to law enforcement personnel on various occasions. “Just make the customers comfortable and make them feel at home. Treating everyone with respect makes everybody’s day,” he said. “This goes for the homeless too, who are as much a part of our community as everyone else.”
Running a 7-Eleven means constantly being prepared to receive VIPs—our customers. “I default,” he said with a smile, “to thinking my mom’s coming in for an inspection.” This is a philosophy he embraced from his upbringing and has brought to all his ventures. “Everything is pristine, clean. I take pride in my family and its name. You prepare food like you are getting ready for a visit from your mother. We kid you not. We keep everything clean and spotless,” he added.
“John Hays recently opened his fifth store in South Florida. He’s a great example of what it is to be a servant leader—he has a deep compassion for his people and truly cares about his customers,” said John McFadden, who is John Hays’ Market Manager in Miami. “He takes great pride in his work. For example, in preparing to open his most recent store, John enthusiastically invited potential customers in the area to join him in the opening celebration, gave a tour of his new store, showed them the products that the new store offers, and sampled fresh food and proprietary beverages.”
“When you enjoy what you do, it is easy to spread the love,” John shared.
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