Kim McCutcheon: Alabama franchise owners oppose SB 129

SB129/home helpers

As an Alabama franchise owner, I’m very concerned about what SB 129, the “Protect Alabama Small Business Act,” could do to my small business. I don’t feel that I need “protection,” and I certainly don’t think that the Alabama legislature adding new regulations onto my business will help it grow.

I own and operate the Home Helpers Senior Care franchise in Jacksonville, Alabama. The Home Helpers name is one of the most trusted names in home care worldwide. At my business, our goal is to enable seniors in Jacksonville to experience the best quality of life possible by aging in place at home.

I’m proud of my business, and my clients come to me because they know the high-quality care that they’ll receive from a Home Helpers location. That trust in a brand name is the basis of franchising – you know what you’ll get when you go to a franchise location, whether it’s a McDonald’s, a Hilton, or a Home Helpers. Franchise owners know we have to work to maintain that trust, or we all suffer. That’s clear in the private business contracts we all sign.

When I chose to become a Home Helpers franchisee, I read and understood the agreement I was signing. I know what the terms and conditions are, and I understand my obligations as a franchisee as well as the obligations of the Home Helpers brand. I also know that if my location isn’t living up to those standards, that hurts other Home Helpers franchisees, whether they’re down the road in Dothan or across the country in Delaware. It’s the same if it goes the other way, too – like other chains, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.

That’s why it’s so important for business owners like me and brands to work together to make sure we’re as strong as we can be. Unfortunately, this bill protects those who don’t live up to their end of the bargain. With this bill, the Alabama legislature is stepping in to make it harder for businesses to maintain the standards of quality, safety, and consistency that consumers expect. And they are doing it without regard to the type of business we operate. I should not have restaurant-type regulations imposed on my senior care business. It makes me believe there is another purpose for these regulations. Helping me in my business is not one of them.

It’s shocking to me that a pro-business state like Alabama would consider passing a bill like this. These kinds of bills have thankfully failed in other states before – policymakers from California to Florida have seen the damage that they can do to a state’s economy and small business growth. In fact, one analysis predicts that this bill will cost Alabama around a billion dollars in the coming years – and result in 12,000 fewer Alabama jobs.

No wonder, then, that Alabama businesses have been so opposed to this bill. I hope our lawmakers listen, and vote against SB 129.

Kim McCutcheon is the owner of Home Helpers Senior Care in Jacksonville, Alabama.