Jun 22, 2015
As 7-Eleven’s Franchise Marketing and Recruitment Manager, Dorian Cunion is tasked with finding new franchise owners in tune with their community. Cunion began as a Field Consultant with 7-Eleven, where he worked intimately with over 70 owners of the convenience store’s franchises in his 10 years in the role. He was then promoted to Market Manager and spent two years in charge of the 100 plus stores in the Baltimore metro area. He watched many owners transform their earning power and economic potential during this time.
As Cunion moved into Franchise Marketing and Recruiting, he continued to see the transformative power of being a 7-Eleven Franchisee play out in communities across the U.S. He noticed that Franchisees with deep ties to the communities they serve have experienced the greatest success. John Hays, a Franchisee of Hispanic heritage in South Florida, and Byron Bennett and his wife, of African American heritage, in Montebello, California, have been proud owners of multiple 7-Eleven stores in their communities. They credit the support of the teams and systems 7-Eleven provides as a key part of their success. “We have one of the most unique support systems in the business,” Cunion comments. “It’s a factor, but their dedication and deeply rooted ties to their communities take it all to the next level.”
To continue to attract diverse segments, 7-Eleven rolled out two new programs to lessen the cost of entry for new Franchisees in select stores. First, 7-Eleven launched their Zero Franchise Fee Initiative to make the cost of entry for Franchisees more accessible in select locations. For those who qualify, it brought the initial cost of owning a store down to as little as $30,000. The second initiative was the Gross Income Support Program. 7-Eleven traditionally splits the gross profits from their stores roughly 50/50 with franchise operators. Under this program, 7-Eleven would adjust their take in favor of the Franchisee to give them support in operating the store at a higher level. “We aim to balance the game in favor of Franchisees. Happy Franchisees are much better brand ambassadors. We serve to lead with that goal in mind,” says Cunion.
These efforts are designed to drive ownership at stores with growth potential. “I’m proud of my ability to do that, especially in my hometown of Baltimore,” a city in which the 2010 Census recorded a 65 percent African-American population. Cunion believes the company will only get stronger if it can increase its diversity. Last year, he said, the company was able to bring 26 new African-American Franchisees on board.
Cunion plans to double that number by bringing 7-Eleven into meetings with key national diversity organizations. Cunion intends to start conversations about franchising and 7-Eleven’s unparalleled level of Franchisee support with these groups. The convenience store company is getting its name out there through another unconventional channel: community building.
7-Eleven Franchising’s community building efforts focus on partnering with organizations that dedicate themselves to the betterment of their communities. One such example is their sponsorship of the Onyx Awards—Florida’s signature African-American awards show— celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans and those who have taken great strides to support their community.
The Franchising group also runs a grant program directing funding to local youth-targeted projects. Funds from “Project A-Game” have been used for everything from band trip expenses to school gardens. “There are many places where people can shop,” Cunion said, “but we are a neighborhood store that’s at the heart of our communities so we work hard to have Franchisees who are invested in their communities, know their customers, and give back to the neighborhoods they serve.”
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