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    Why does Chris Holden want to put small business owners out of business?
    • July 10, 2023

    When I was growing up, my parents worked hard to become franchisees for Dunkin’ Donuts. And they loved it. They were proud small business owners giving back to their employees, their customers, and the community.

    I worked in the restaurants with them doing anything from handing out napkins to every other job in the restaurant as I got older. I never intended to be a franchisee, but after graduating from USC, I realized I wanted the same thing as my parents: To feel fulfilled going to work every day and to have the pride of owning my own small business.

    I now own seven Dunkin’ and four Baskin-Robbins locations in Orange and Riverside counties. Empowering young people and watching them build confidence has been deeply rewarding. I want to continue to grow and create more opportunities for young people, but Assembly Bill 1228 by Asm. Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, threatens all that I have built.

    AB 1228 would force national fast food corporations to exert significantly more control over local franchised restaurants like mine. It would make the corporations legally liable for employment and personnel decisions at our local restaurants. In turn, the corporations will be required to assert more control over our operations. That’s not good for me or thousands of other local restaurant owners and our team members.

    Current law gives franchise owners control over operations including hiring, wages, scheduling, benefits and workplace standards. Our corporate brands have no role in employment decisions because this is my business and I know what is best for my people. That’s how it should be.

    I became a franchisee to build something lasting for my wife and three kids, my employees and my community. I took all the risk: I’m on the hook for the loans, I signed the building leases, I paid for construction, equipment and more. I did not start this small business because I wanted to run it on someone else’s terms.

    My restaurants are a great place to work. We nurture our team members, promote quickly and create a path to leadership and career growth. We offer flexible hours so our employees can go to school, play sports, go on vacation and take care of family members. If employees come to me with a problem, I can help fix it because I know my people and my business better than anyone. This is Business 101. Satisfied employees result in lower turnover and more happy customers.

    We take community giving seriously, also. Because of our sponsorship, Children’s Hospital of Orange County has a full-time therapy dog and human handler to comfort kids and their families. I’m on the board of Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation which helps kids battling hunger and illness. We regularly sponsor sports clubs, schools, and community groups in Orange and Riverside counties.

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    I am very concerned these personalized community commitments will be lost because AB 1228 threatens the franchise model entirely. Meritless lawsuits against corporate brands resulting from AB 1228 will proliferate and could force corporations to limit their liability by bringing ownership of their restaurants in house.

    This would destroy new franchising opportunities and existing licensees, like me, could lose our livelihoods. This would be a tremendous loss since the franchise model provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs – many of whom are women, people of color, immigrants, and veterans. According to the International Franchise Association, franchised businesses are 31% minority-owned, compared to just 19% minority-owned in non-franchised businesses.

    I love being a small business franchise owner. I’m proud that our employees are learning and advancing, and that our restaurants are bringing joy to our customers and our community. AB 1228 threatens all of that. AB 1228 should be defeated.

    Parag Patel owns 11 Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ franchises in Orange and Riverside Counties. He lives in Irvine.

    ​ Orange County Register