Franchises Excluded from Small Business Saturday – AMEX Responds!

Well, I am happy to say that I have been in touch with AMEX as one of their VPs contacted me directly and apologized for their exclusion of franchising. They just missed the boat on franchising being an integral part of small business. They never even considered franchisees as Moms and Pops investing their money in a small business of their own. All their thoughts were focused on the giants of franchising and not the smaller franchises. Although, I did communicate that even the McDonalds franchisees are small business owners themselves. The long and the short is that AMEX knows they committed a huge blunder in excluding franchising.

Rosa Alfonso, the AMEX VP that contacted me directly, wants to set up a conference call next week with several other AMEX VPs to start down the road of getting franchising involved in next year’s Small Business Saturday. I am so excited they took notice and are willing to do something about it.

As much as I would love to be front and center on this, I recognize that it should not be without the IFA. This is about franchising being recognized as an essential component to America’s economic recovery, as IFA President, Steve Caldeira has promoted since leading the IFA. It’s about continuing to educate, not only the masses, but even the giants of business like American Express. I’m sure Steve and his staff could think of many ways this can further benefit franchising.

To that end, I have reached out to Steve Caldeira and will defer to him and the IFA staff in moving forward. Of course, I look forward to being involved as I am passionate about franchising!

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Was Franchising Slapped in the Face by American Express by Accident?

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?

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Franchising Excluded from AMEX Small Business Saturday Events!

This Saturday, November 26th is the 2nd Annual American Express Small Business Saturday. Most likely you have seen advertising and promotions for the event. Possibly you’ve seen the event’s Facebook page that has over 2.3 million LIKES. If you spend as much time online as I have you, then you have definitely seen promo after promo mentioning the event.

Well, franchising, supposedly the cornerstone of small business and as many claim, the driving force behind economic recovery in America, has been excluded from the event. Here’s the AMEX notice…

ELIGIBILITY: The Program is only available to independently owned businesses. Small business cannot promote any of the following: pharmaceuticals, drugs, politics, pornography or sexual aids, diet aids, gambling, liquor, tobacco, firearms/weapons, or any sensitive topic with respect to current events, and any such small businesses are not eligible for this Program. Franchisees, national chains and government agencies are not eligible. By participating in this Program, you represent and warrant that (i) your business complies with the requirements set forth herein and (ii) you are the owner of the business and have the right to participate in this Program.

Yet, American Express heavily solicits franchise brands and franchisees to accept the American Express Card. And, as we all know, at a higher rate than that of Visa and MasterCard. Not to mention the fact that American Express typically exhibits at franchise conferences and trade shows where they promote AMEX Merchant Services. Besides, aren’t franchise locations independently owned and operated?

At the very least, franchisees should be able to participate locally even if franchise brands are prohibited from participating at the national level!

So, do you believe American Express was correct in excluding franchise brands and franchisees from Small Business Saturday? What are your thoughts?

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