Franchised small businesses within the State of Florida are not adequately protected under Florida law. Yet, inexplicably, current laws provide security for business owners that operate large automobile dealerships, agricultural equipment dealerships as well as beer distributors and other special industries. It is unjust that similar protections do not exist for the thousands of restaurants, convenience stores, hotels and retail store franchisees operating within the State. There are more than 40,000 small business locations owned and operated by franchisees in Florida. The average investment to buy a franchise is $375,000. These franchisees have invested their personal finances and have taken out bank loans. They employ some 400,000 people in the State and pay substantial State sales taxes. The monumental impact these small business owners have on our state is undeniable. Franchisees need Florida to provide basic rights for those who invest their personal time, money and energy to build local businesses that employ so many and infuse our economy. Twenty-four other states have passed laws in defense of these businesses. It is time that Florida joined them and the Protect Florida Small Business Act (the “Act”) aims to do just that.
Sponsoring this very important piece of legislation are State Senator Jack Latvala and State Representative Jason Brodeur. This Act will level the playing field by promoting fair relations between franchisors and the franchisees operating in the State of Florida. If enacted, it will create more financial certainty by shielding franchisees from unjust terminations by franchisors, add protections against unfair restrictions on sales and transfers, and prevent unsubstantiated non-renewals of franchise agreements. Ultimately, it will force franchisors to be more transparent and even-handed in their interactions with franchisees. The benefits of this newly proposed legislation are clearly seen by many as it is receiving support from franchisees and franchisee associations throughout Florida.
Franchised small business owners within this State deserve to be given shelter under the law. Big business should not be allowed to continue preying on those small businesses that build our local and state economies. We should not permit the law to bypass the interests of our small businesses. It is imperative for this legislation to gain support in order to ensure franchisees a fighting chance for their investments. Our firm strongly supports the Protect Florida Small Business Act and encourage all within the franchise community to do the same. This legislative session, let the voices of Florida franchisees be heard by visiting www.protectflbusiness.com to learn how you can support this crucial piece of legislation.