Just because a company is a big chain franchise doesn’t mean they can’t innovate. That’s the case with the convenience store franchise 7-11. I knew when they bought my wrist water bottle product for their stores in Hawaii that they think outside the box. This is the way a franchise should think, because every location is different. What works in the warm weather of Hawaii year ’round might not work in the winter in Maine.
At 7-11 innovation is at the center of their testing grounds for new innovation. Every year they purchase over a thousand new products. They are also opening new Evolution stores to act as an experiential place for customers to try new products and concepts. Some of these include a self-serve bean to cup coffee bar and a walk-in beer cooler. One Evolution store in North Dallas also has the Laredo Taco Company, a locally known fast food restaurant that makes their own tortillas.
Partnering with artists
They’ve also incorporated something I preach all the time, which is partnering with local artists to create an experience. The North Dallas store partnered with Mariell Guzman, a local painter from the Lake Highlands neighborhood. Her brightly colored murals reflect the energy of the neighborhood and draw attention to the store.
Investing in innovation
According to their website, they are digging in their heels on 7-11 innovation:
“We’ve invested millions in industry-leading digital innovation. We thoroughly analyze sales metrics to enable you to optimize your inventory. Our resources and software can help keep your shelves stocked with what sells best at each location so you don’t waste valuable time and money trying to figure it out. Plus, inventory management and invoice payments are all fully automated. We thought of everything so you can focus on what matters most — growing your business.”
I love to see franchises innovate. Yes, it’s based on a business model that is set by the franchisor, but innovation has happened on the franchisee level. If franchisees never innovated we wouldn’t have McDonald’s Big Mac and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Domino’s Pizza’s American Legends line of pizza and bread bowl pastas were created by a Los Angeles franchisee.