While 7-Eleven has a strong consumer brand, it is suffering today from failing to build a strong corporate reputation, or a corporate goodwill bank on which it can draw during a crisis.
The organisation is particularly vulnerable as it has refused to offer media a spokesperson, preferably the CEO, to defend its corporate governance procedures. On its website, its media releases are unsigned and unattributed.
As 7-Eleven is now ‘on its back foot’, it will need to take some radical action to regain the initiative and secure public support. There are two obvious initiatives the company should consider.
The first initiative would be to commission an external independent expert to prepare a report on the company’s corporate governance procedures and franchisee controls, with the company declaring that it expects to adopt the report’s recommendations. The second would be to announce that if any franchisee fails to compensate present or former employees for underpayments, the company will underwrite these payments so no employees are out of pocket.
Longer term, the company needs to build a corporate goodwill bank so it has a positive reputation to balance any negative incidents in the future. It also needs to adopt a more transparent approach to both external and internal communication, ideally including two-way communication with franchisees’ employees to prevent future complaints.