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Opinion | I’m an Alabama franchise owner. Stop regulating me

I’m an Alabama franchise owner, and I oppose HB 352.

I own two Express Employment Professionals in the Birmingham area and employ a total of 275 Alabamians. My two locations have assisted 375 Birmingham businesses with their staffing needs so far this year.

These local businesses come to me because they know the quality of the company I’ve built and the value of the Express Employment name – the very things that the so-called “Protect Alabama Small Business Act” threatens to take away.

As a franchise owner, I researched my business before buying. I reviewed federally-mandated disclosure documents, met with attorneys, and pored over contracts to make sure that my franchiser was the right fit for me.

Most franchisees do their research: there are more than 3,000 franchise brands in 300 different business lines, and every business is not going to be the right one for you or me.

Franchising is unique, too. I – and all franchisees – agree to maintain a certain set of standards at our locations. This is how franchising works; businesses can come to Express Employment locations for their needs because they know the quality of services that Express Employment provides, regardless of location.

Similarly, you might want to eat at a franchise restaurant like a Newk’s, or stay in a franchise hotel like a Hilton property when you travel – you know what you’re going to get and you know that it’s going to be clean, safe, and consistent.

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This bill makes it next-to-impossible for franchise brands to enforce their standards to maintain that quality, which hurts me and every other franchise owner. Think about it – why would you keep going to the same brand if the quality is less than you expect?

Plus, this bill is a one-size-fits all approach – it treats me the same as McDonald’s, and the same as SportClips, and the same as the UPS Store; even though we’re all different types of businesses.

More importantly, this bill will get the state government involved in my franchise contract. I’m a private business, and I enter into a private contract with a private company. Our nation’s economy is thriving because regulations are being removed, and there is no need for additional regulations in Alabama.

This legislation is extremely surprising, especially in a state like Alabama where some 12,000 franchises employ around 125,000 people.

We’re known for a good business climate and low regulations. These conditions help our state’s economy grow and lets both small businesses like mine and big businesses like Airbus and Mercedes-Benz thrive here. I don’t know why we’d want to put that reputation at risk by passing this bill, particularly when businesses of all types are already saying how this bill would make it harder for them to succeed in the state.

I hope state legislators listen to all franchise owners and not just a disgruntled few, and vote against HB 352, the “Protect Alabama Small Business Act.” The only thing Alabama small business owners like me need to be protected from is this bill.


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