As mentioned on this site, and within several social media and various discussion groups, American Express has excluded franchising from its Second Annual Small Business Saturday campaign. It’s really unclear as to their motive behind the exclusion.
One theory is that franchising is associated with large corporations and brands much the same as big brand retailers like Macy’s and JCPenney. Another theory is that franchising is not considered to have Mom & Pop proprietors running businesses at the local level, right next to and often not much different than independent Mom & Pop businesses.
Still, another theory points towards franchising as only the well-known brands of the likes of McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell. There’s even a theory that franchisees are really employees, not business owners, and as such should not be included in the campaign. Yes, the theories are many, and then there were the thoughts (and perception) of individuals outside the franchise community that clearly state that franchising is not small business at all and is nowhere close to the cornerstone of small business in America today. Obviously, there are statistics that prove otherwise.
Below are some of the comments from the franchise community…
“I think that people forget that MANY franchisees are small business owners just the same and still need the support. I think it is a common mis-conception by the public that a franchise = large corporations.”
“Big mistake by Amex! If the franchise owners of america said fine…exclude us and we will stop accepting the Amex card… you can bet their attitude would change!”
“I wonder, then, if a small business (that is not a franchise) that relies on providing a nationally recognized service or product would also be excluded. Are distributors or those with licensing rights excluded?… It’s too bad that franchisees are not recognized by Amex as the hard-working, dedicated, small business owners that they are.”
“Interesting…when I attended the West Coast Franchise Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month, AMEX had a booth and they were handing out fliers to franchisees. When I asked if franchisees could participate in the Small Business Saturday event I was told “yes.””
“This is very ironic. AMEX is a HUGE business that is more than eager to suck as much profit (or add to the losses) as possible out of small businesses (including franchises) with their outrageous fees. This event has nothing to do with helping small business, but rather is a self-serving promotion for AMEX, which obviously doesn’t even comprehend what small business is all about since they’ve excluded franchises.”
“Not a good idea! Many small businesses are franchisees. In fact, numerous franchisers are small businesses. More research would have been appropriate!”
“Wow – I feel it’s a BIG mistake on AMEX’s part. But it exposes one of the issues Franchising faces. People’s perception of Franchising is Fast Food as represented by the Huge National Chains. Fast Food is only 20% of all franchising. There are over 75 Industries represented in franchising. As a Self-Employment Coach (which includes franchise consulting), I spend a huge amount of time demystifying and demythifying franchising. A franchisee is locally owned and operated and as such should be able to take part this Saturday in Amex’s event!”
So, where does franchising go from here? How does it address this debacle with AMEX from happening again? How does it get AMEX to stand up and take responsibility for making a huge mistake? And, maybe even more importantly, how does franchising continue to educate people that franchising really is small business, and a huge part of it at that?