SB 129: Bad for Alabama business
For a bill called the “Protect Alabama Small Business Act,” SB 129 sure would hurt small businesses like mine. I own the FASTSIGNS locations in Mobile and Daphne, and I know firsthand what it takes for small franchise businesses to succeed. This bill simply isn’t it.
SB 129 would take private franchise contracts like mine and turn them into state law. It’s a one-size-fits-all regulation that ignores differences in business types or businesses’ needs. It treats my printing and graphics company – with five employees – the same way it treats a McDonald’s or a Marriott. That doesn’t make sense for anyone.
On top of that, it makes it impossible for franchises to protect our brand. For franchises, that brand is everything – customers walk through our door because they know the quality products and services they’ll get at a FASTSIGNS in Mobile, Montgomery or Mexico City. There are certain standards I maintain in order to keep that FASTSIGNS logo on my door. I expect other FASTSIGNS owners to do the same.
As franchisees, we know what we’re signing up for when we enter into a private franchise contract. We partner with a brand-name business for their guidance, experience, and marketing. We do our research, too. For most folks, deciding whether to buy a franchise is a personal, family investment decision. We researched franchise brands, compared federally-required disclosure documents, and made an informed decision based on our goals and our experiences.
We became FASTSIGNS franchisees in 2014, largely because of the guidance and support we get from our franchisor. My family, the Calagaz family from Mobile, has been in the photo and print business for generations. Our franchise agreement with FASTSIGNS gave us a brand name on our storefront and an ally in our corner, while keeping my family in the business we knew and loved.
There are thousands of stories like mine across Alabama. Our state has 12,000 franchise businesses that create jobs in every county. That’s what makes this bill so surprising, especially here, especially now. We pride ourselves on being a pro-business state, but this bill puts the government right in the middle of decisions that businesses need to make. It makes our private contracts public law, and it treats all franchise businesses the same – regardless of what we do. SB 129 sure seems to say that the state government knows more than we do about what’s best for our business and our families.
Businesses of all types – everything from five-employee stores like mine to Fortune 500 companies – are asking the legislature to slow down and think about what they’re doing. I hope the Legislature considers how new regulations like this can impact Alabama business owners and our state’s economy down the road. I hope our lawmakers listen to Alabama businesses like me, and vote against SB 129.
Pauline McKean is a FASTSIGNS franchise owner in Mobile