Joe DePinto is president and CEO of 7-Eleven, Inc., the premier company in convenience retailing. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 61,000 7 Eleven stores, including more than 10,900 stores in North America.
Before being appointed chief executive in 2005, DePinto was president of GameStop Corporation. He has held executive positions at PepsiCo, Inc. and Thornton Oil Corporation.
DePinto is a board director of 7-Eleven, Inc., Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd., and is Chairman of the Board of Brinker International. He serves on the Business Executives for National Security board, George W. Bush Presidential Center Military Service Initiative advisory council, Kellogg School of Management global advisory board and Dallas Stars Ownership advisory group.
A native of Chicago, DePinto earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and Master of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. DePinto served as Field Artillery officer in the US Army.
1. Tell us about the 7-Eleven concept.
7-Eleven was the first convenience retailer, creating this innovative concept 90 years ago. A dock worker at The Southland Ice Company in Dallas began selling milk, bread and eggs in the evenings and on weekends when grocery stores were closed, as a convenience for his customers. That was the birth of the convenience store industry. That customer-centric approach, and the relentless focus on satisfying their needs, has led to several industry-leading innovations. The ice company eventually named the stores 7-Eleven to reflect what used to be the standard hours of operation. Today, with more than 61,000 7-Eleven stores around the world, 7-Eleven Inc is the convenience retail leader.
2. How and when did you become involved with 7-Eleven?
I first joined 7-Eleven as a division manager in 2002 and had overall responsibility for 7-Eleven stores in our Central Division. The following year, I was promoted to vice president of Operations, responsible for overseeing all eight of the company’s U.S. divisions. I left to become CEO of Gamestop before returning to lead the company as president and CEO after it was acquired in 2005 by Seven & i Holdings.
3. What was your background prior to joining 7-Eleven?
Prior to joining 7-Eleven, I served as senior vice president and COO for Thornton Oil Corporation, operator of Thornton’s convenience stores in the Central US. At Thornton’s I was responsible for both operations and marketing, and led the strategic direction of the company. I also held a variety of executive positions for PepsiCo restaurants at headquarters, division and field level.
4. What are some of the advantages in being a 7-Eleven franchisee?
7-Eleven is the largest convenience retailer in the world with more than 61,000 locations globally. 7-Eleven has a successful, proven business model, provides excellent foundational training and ongoing business support every step of the way from the day the franchising agreement is signed.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee?
7-Eleven Franchisee candidates need to be self-starters, have strong leadership skills, be able to motivate a team, and flexible enough to handle day-to-day challenges and opportunities that arise. Military veterans learn many of these skills while serving. That’s why I think they are such a good fit to own a store, but anyone who possesses these qualities: a strong work ethic and is motivated to build a successful business fits our Franchisee profile.
6. Tell us a little about the convenience retail market?
We are seeing several new customer trends in the retail industry:
- Connected 24/7: Smartphone devices are the dominant way that consumers get information, connect and make purchases.
- Demanding and discerning: Quality, freshness, differentiation and value are very important to consumers today.
- On-the-go and time-starved: Customers are picking up on-the-go meals and snacking more often.
- Eating differently: Customers are increasingly eat meals alone and choosing healthier options.
- Diversity: Communities are more diverse than ever before.
- Urbanization: Driven by millennials, customers are moving to more densely populated areas and looking for more close and convenient solutions for their lifestyles.
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
We put customers and Franchisees at the forefront of everything we do. If we’re not serving those groups, we’re not succeeding. Customer demands are constantly evolving, even more so with the rise of digital platforms, and the amount of information that’s available to our customers. Since the founding of this company, we’ve been relentlessly focused on anticipating and satisfying our customers’ needs through continual improvement and constant innovation.
8. Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
I have several mentors, personal friends and networks that I tap into, rely on, and speak with on a recurring basis. They all provide support and inspiration.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
Do your research, use all the tools and information 7-Eleven provides, and discuss any potential questions you have with your franchise sales representative, as well as current franchisees.
10. In your opinion, why do you think that 7-Eleven would be a great opportunity for someone?
We’re an iconic brand, recognized internationally as the convenience leader. In January of this year, Entrepreneur Magazine announced their annual Franchise 500 rankings. The Franchise 500 rankings are based on five key areas utilizing over 150 data points. 7-Eleven Inc. was awarded the highest honor, and was selected as the #1 Franchise organization in the world by Entrepreneur Magazine. 7-Eleven has a successful, proven business model, outstanding foundational training, as well as ongoing consulting and business support. Our aggressive store growth plans give Franchisees the opportunity to grow their business through acquisition of multiple stores.