Franchising and AMEX Small Business Saturday… Making Progress?

ShopSmall4Many people ask me why I am so passionate about franchising and it’s (minimized) participation in Small Business Saturday by American Express. Well, the reason is that there is still confusion as to what many perceive about franchising and that franchises are all big business.

McDonald’s comes to mind as the typical franchise with large marketing budgets, and even there, the perception, as related to me a couple of years ago by American Express executives was that the McDonald’s parent company pays for all marketing and that in and of itself creates a huge advantage for McDonald’s franchisees over local businesses. Obviously, this is totally off-course and couldn’t be further from the truth.

In any event, franchising has made some progress over the past few years as American Express is progressing in its efforts to allow franchises to participate in its Small Business Saturday program, but it still is not enough as franchise brands are limited to those with only 100 locations. To me, the number of locations is not relevant when determining whether or not a business is considered small business and a local business at that. It’s all about the individual location’s ownership. It’s about the investment made by the owner. it’s about the risk taken to pursue the American Dream of business ownership. What is still being missed is that there are thousands upon thousands of individuals that own franchises across our great Nation that are basically in the same position as any Mom & Pop operator up and down Main Street, USA. Yet, the majority are excluded from participating in Small Business Saturday events.

Please help make a difference and encourage everyone you know to shop at franchises AND independent businesses on Small Business Saturday and each time they make a purchase at a franchise to let American Express know by using hashtag #ShopSmall in their social media activities along with the hashtag #ShopFranchise. For instance: #ShopSmall #ShopFranchise. We must continue to let American Express know that franchises are small business, too.

Below please find links to various posts that reference this ongoing debate with most recent at the top.

11/30/13 Franchising Supports Small Business Saturday

https://franchisessentials.com/2013/11/30/franchising-supports-small-business-saturday/

11/24/12 Franchising Not [Completely] Respected by American Express!

https://franchisessentials.com/2012/11/24/franchising-not-completely-respected-by-american-express/

11/29/11 AMEX Reassessing Policies for Small Business Saturday

https://franchisessentials.com/2011/11/29/amex-reassessing-policies-for-small-business-saturday/

11/26/11 Franchises Excluded from Small Business Saturday – AMEX Responds!

https://franchisessentials.com/2011/11/26/franchises-excluded-from-small-business-saturday-amex-responds/

11/25/11 Was Franchising Slapped in the Face by American Express by Accident?

https://franchisessentials.com/2011/11/25/was-franchising-slapped-in-the-face-by-american-express-by-accident/

11/21/11 Franchising Excluded from AMEX Small Business Saturday Events!

https://franchisessentials.com/2011/11/21/franchising-excluded-from-amex-small-business-saturday-events/

Franchising Supports Small Business Saturday

Small Business SaturdayYes, progress is being made and franchising is being recognized more and more by American Express in their Small Business Saturday efforts. When launched in 2010, franchises were not included in Small Business Saturday, being excluded with a specific clause in Small Business Saturday literature to merchants interested in participating in the new program. I was definitely surprised and although we still have a way to go I’m happy to say the past two years have seen franchises included in the list participating businesses. And that is great!

When I first realized franchising had been excluded I was quite surprised. Sure, as many are aware, I did flood the social media space with several blog posts about franchising being excluded. No need to regurgitate that any further and I’m not including links to those posts here as American Express did respond, and in a very positive way. They truly wanted to learn more about franchising and its role in small business today and I was more than willing to help. You see, despite the role American Express plays in business today and despite the fact that AMEX executives are very well-educated and understand business, they had huge misperceptions about franchising. Several of the AMEX executives I met with actually thought all franchises were just like McDonald’s – big and powerful! They also incorrectly thought McDonald’s and other [large] franchisors paid for all advertising on behalf of its franchisees. Thus, they excluded franchising, thinking all along that all franchisees had it made in the shade over independent small business owners.

Well, I was happy to share many statistics about franchising and the fact that many franchisees are the same Mom & Pop operators that built their businesses on Main Street USA. Just like many independent small business owners, they have invested their life savings in pursuit of the American Dream. And just like small business owners everywhere, they continue to fight off big box retailers and department stores alike for a slice of every dollars expended by today’s consumer.

Fortunately, American Express listened, and I was quite impressed. Unfortunately, and to my dismay things did not move along as quickly as I would have liked and although progress was made and franchising was included, but limited in the subsequent years since 2010, I was extremely anxious and wanted full inclusion for franchising, and I wanted it now! What I was missing and fully realize now, thanks in part to Tom Epstein, CEO at Franchise Payments Network, is that American Express, albeit a huge organization has a difficult time making abrupt changes to programs as there are many considerations… many financial ones that I had not even considered such as the sheer cost of marketing materials, just to name one of many.

In any event, I was excited to see Tom contribute to the effort of getting franchising more involved in Small Business Saturday. He has spent a great deal of time learning as much as he could from his various contacts at American Express. I believe the efforts are paying off and will continue to do so year after year. Others within the franchise community, including the International Franchise Association have contributed as well, and I applaud their efforts. Speaking of the IFA, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all they do in promoting franchising as without those ongoing efforts we’d truly be dead in the water. You see, just as American Express promotes “Membership has its Privileges” so, does membership in the IFA.

So, on this Small Business Saturday, let’s pull out those AMEX cards, whether they be green, gold, platinum, blue, plum or black and spend away at small businesses across our great nation. Happy shopping!

Franchising Not [Completely] Respected by American Express!

Yes, today is Small Business Saturday and I urge you to support local business everywhere. That being said, please remember that franchises are small businesses as well, and are locally owned and operated. Unfortunately, despite efforts to educate American Express about franchising, they still found it necessary to place limitations on franchising’s involvement by excluding franchises with over 100 locations.

I’m concerned about the local franchisees of BrightStar Care, Rita’s Italian Ice, Red Mango, Nothing Bundt Cakes or of the many other franchise brands whose franchisees invested their hard earned money and savings to develop a business in their local area, just like the Mom & Pop proprietors have done. A small business is a small business. Period.

Franchising is very much small business and AMEX would certainly have a different opinion if all franchises stopped taking the American Express Card! Yes, please visit and support local businesses, including franchise locations, but as a true sign of support for ALL small business owners, about your American Express Card, please do leave home without it!

And, it’s not like American Express wasn’t made aware of franchising’s role in small business.

Last year I wrote numerous articles and actually had multiple phone calls with senior executives at AMEX. All appeared to be on track for including franchising in Small Business Saturdays. I even followed up with phone calls mid-summer to make certain last year’s debacle wasn’t repeated. I was assured all was in order, that they did their research and yes, franchising would be well-represented in this year’s Small Business Saturday event. Well, shame on me for following up, but not following through. You can be assured that will not happen again.

Here are links to last year’s articles which I will build upon for 2013…

Franchising Excluded from AMEX Small Business Saturday Events

Franchises Are Not Small Business?

Franchises Excluded From Small Business Saturday – AMEX Responds!

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

AMEX Reassessing Policies for Small Business Saturday


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