Military veterans can win 7-Eleven franchise in contest

By TARA BOZICK | Daily Press | Published: November 23, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Veterans interested in running their own business may want to take advantage of 7-Eleven Inc.'s first franchise giveaway.

The award is not a full convenience store but rather a credit of up to $190,000 for the franchise fee, according to a news release. Veterans have until Jan. 25 to apply for "Operation: Take Command," with the winner to be announced on April 23.

Contestants must be at least 21 years old, have been honorably discharged from the military and have three years of retail, leadership or restaurant experience and must still qualify through the 7-Eleven franchise process, which requires "excellent credit." The winner will still need to pay other fees and permits, a $20,000 down payment on inventory and training expenses.

7-Eleven has seven corporate stores in Hampton, one corporate and one franchise store in Newport News and two corporate stores and one under construction in Williamsburg available for franchising, according to the company's online list.

In March via the 7-Eleven Facebook page, the public can vote on the top 10 finalists' 2-minute videos on why they should win. The last three finalists will have a final interview with 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto. To apply, visit here.

"What an opportunity," 7-Eleven franchisee Bob Bullock of Newport News said in reaction to the contest. "You can create a substantial income and business from it."

7-Eleven says 10 people, including Bullock, in Hampton Roads have already taken advantage of the company's 20-percent discount for qualified veterans franchising their first store.

Bullock, a Navy veteran, franchised a newly constructed 7-Eleven store at 9959 Jefferson Ave. near Main Street in Newport News in July. He estimates he saved about $50,000 on both the franchise fee discount and financing through 7-Eleven with a lower interest rate.

Really, Bullock, 61, said he took on the franchise for his son David, 33, of Norfolk to run. After leaving the Navy in 1975, Bullock became an electronics engineer, including having worked on aerospace electronic control systems for NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, before starting his own company: Transworld Communications in Newport News.

A franchise is a good way to get started in business because of the corporate support and marketing and the ability to make money starting Day 1, Bullock said.

"This truly, in my opinion, is a great opportunity for a young person," Bullock said. "I'm very proud of my son. When he walked in the door, he didn't slow down."

Eventually, Bullock would like to have five franchises in the region. He's in the process of acquiring a second 7-Eleven franchise for his son-in-law to run. While the discount helped him get started, Bullock said he also found a mentor in another local 7-Eleven franchisee. He feels like the company is selective in choosing franchisees as the paperwork and interviewing process is pretty rigid.

"I had looked into a lot of different franchises," Bullock said. "After seeing the actual profit potential off a 7-Eleven franchise, I decided this was something I wanted to do."

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