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After the Attack

How different franchises are reaching out in the aftermath of the attack

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We surveyed some franchisors to ask them, "What was your franchise system's response to the September 11 terrorist attack?" Here are a few responses:

American Leak Detection

1. We have asked every employee to contribute to the American Red Cross-even if it is only one dollar. Our owners, Tim, Lorrie and Dick Rennick, have agreed to match the entire contribution, including matching their own personal donations.

2. We purchased a large flagpole and installed it in front of our building so we could fly the flag at half-mast.

3. We closed our offices early on Friday, September 14, the day of mourning.

4. We have received condolences from every one of our international franchisees from Brazil to Ireland to Korea to Spain. The most poignant was from Belgium: "Today I am an American-God Bless America." Incidentally, every one of our international franchisees has assured us they will be attending our convention during the first week of October. We have not had one cancellation from any of our franchisees.

5. The entire management staff met for nearly two hours to discuss how we will respond to this tragedy and how our behavior will be in the future. We want to renew our relationship and team building by being even more dedicated and focused.

--Sheila T. Bangs, director of Franchise Sales

McAlister's Deli

We have responded to this terrible tragedy by trying to do all we can to help the victims in New York City and Washington, DC. Our company restaurants and franchised restaurants donated cookies and food to the Red Cross and other blood banks to give to the many people who donated blood. We also allowed our employees to donate blood during the workday. Finally, the company restaurants are donating all accumulated tips to the disaster relief funds in New York.

--Pat Wells, vice president and general counsel


Fastsigns has been able to produce large signs, stickers, banners, flag decals, magnetic signs and more, with most of the proceeds going to relief funds. In a Columbus, Ohio, store, the mayor of the city even came by to thank Fastsigns for its support throughout the community. In Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Pirates asked Fastsigns to create a large banner for Pittsburghers to sign, which will be sent along with donations to New York. Stories like this constantly have been coming into Fastsigns corporate office. Gary Salomon, president of Fastsigns, says helping Americans show their love for their country is one of the greatest rewards.

computer moms

As is the entire country and most of the world, we are all shocked and horrified by the attack on our country. Our prayers and deepest sympathy go out to the untold numbers of victims and their families.

The morning [of September 11], after we watched the horrific events unfold on the news, I asked them what they wanted to do now. Concentrating is hard enough without any major distractions, right? Knowing this, you can well imagine how hard it is for them to concentrate and try to learn with these events in the background. The class and the home office team took time to pray together for the victims and our country. The consensus was to press on and continue with class. They are doing a magnificent job!

--Linda Burzynski, president and CEO


Several Subway locations in Washington, DC, are supplying free food and beverages to on-duty emergency personnel from the FBI, Secret Service and Washington Metro police and fire departments.

"Since the tragedy, Subway franchises in the DC area have fed more than 500 relief workers," said Larry Feldman, CEO of Subway Development Corp. "These relief workers are putting in endless hours in extremely difficult situations, and we wanted to do our part and contribute to this enormous relief effort."

Church's Chicken

Church's Chicken, a division of AFC Enterprises Inc., announced that its Atlanta-area restaurants are joining together with its chicken supplier, Cagles Inc., to raise money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Church's Chicken donated one dollar for every three-piece chicken and biscuit meal sold at its 62 Atlanta company and franchise-owned restaurants on Monday, September 24.

Mail Boxes Etc.

As the tragic events of September 11 unfolded, the Mail Boxes Etc. home office in San Diego was flooded with calls and e-mails from our franchisees around the world wanting to know two things: 1) Were our New York City franchisees safe? and 2) What could we as a network do to help? Fortunately, we were able to confirm that all our Manhattan franchisees were safe, even those closest to the World Trade Center. The second question was more difficult to answer.

In the early hours of the tragedy, it was unclear what types of efforts would be needed. Like many other businesses, we encouraged our family members to donate blood and to make a contribution to a national relief agency, such as the Red Cross or United Way. We then waited with the rest of America to see what else we might do. The collective sense of "paralysis" was overshadowed only by our national grief.

Then something occurred that sounded a clarion call throughout our network-the demand for the American flag was at an all-time high. In keeping with our mission of providing real help, a handful of MBE franchisees began providing customers with complimentary full-color copies of the American flag to display in their cars, homes and businesses. This grassroots effort soon began to appear in several areas across the country. Learning of this, the home office quickly organized an effort to make this a nationwide effort on Friday, September 14, a day the president had declared National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. On that day, nearly 3,500 MBE Centers from coast to coast proudly distributed copies of Old Glory. Early estimates indicate that more than 1 million copies might have been distributed. Since that time, many franchisees have continued to offer free copies, while others offer them for a small fee, with the proceeds going to one of several relief efforts.

Knowing there's still much that will need to be done in the weeks, months and even years ahead, the board of the MBE We Deliver Dreams Foundation is closely monitoring the situation and conducting discussions as to what type of national relief effort it might undertake to provide our citizens and our friends with an opportunity to show that although we have lost lives, we haven't lost heart.

Wetzel's Pretzels

The entire Wetzel's family has been deeply touched by last week's tragedy. If there was ever a time for Americans to stand up and be counted, this is it. We must join together during this unthinkable crisis to help our neighbors heal their wounds and make our nation stronger than ever.

One powerful tool we possess is the visibility and exposure of our company's stores. To exploit this advantage, we are putting together a program to make all Wetzel's Pretzels stores a donation point to help the NYC firefighters victim's families. Donation jars will be mailed to all stores on Wednesday, and banners will be mailed at the end of the week. We are asking that each store prominently display the jar and banner, then encourage customers to make donations. For our part, Wetzel's Pretzels will match all donations up to $10,000.

Heavenly Ham

It seemed as if all our franchisees were calling us, wanting to know what they could do to help. Everything we thought of seemed to just commercialize the tragedy until one of our franchisees came up with the idea to purchase American Flag pins, sell them in his store and donate the proceeds to his local Red Cross chapter. We decided to take the concept to a national level and have ordered thousands of these pins to be sold at our 200 Heavenly Ham store locations nationwide, with the proceeds going to benefit the Red Cross.

Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin Robbins and Togo's

Allied Domecq Quick Service Restaurants' companies, Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin Robbins and Togo's, are actively involved in the relief efforts resulting from last week's terrorist attacks on the East Coast. We are donating products, including coffee, doughnuts, bagels, baked goods, sandwiches, ice cream and bottled water, to recovery operations at the Pentagon and in New York City. We have been called upon by the city of New York to bring product into Manhattan to assist the tireless efforts of the emergency personnel, volunteer workers and those at the command center. We have also reached out to the Red Cross to contribute product to blood donor stations and triage centers throughout the country.

In addition to the many charitable efforts of our market teams and franchisees, we are proud to announce that we have chosen to support the United Way's September 11th Fund. United Way, in conjunction with The New York Community Trust, established the fund to mobilize financial resources for the victims of last week's tragic events in New York City and other communities and to provide support through emergency assistance to agencies and nonprofits. We believe this fund is the best way for making sure the money we contribute is directed to the areas and people who need it most.

Money Mailer

We encouraged the Money Mailer franchisees and employees to do the following practical things:

1. Give blood.

2. Give to the United Way September 11th Fund to which Money Mailer LLS, itself is making a contribution.

3. Attend services in remembrance of the victims and light a candle.

Furthermore, we are considering an annual contribution to a fund to help pay for the education of the children of the victims of the attack. We will also print a special message of support and encouragement to the communities we serve on the face of 20 million of our direct mail envelopes in the months of October and November 2001.

Our company's sense of solidarity and unity was intensified by this tragedy. In addition to giving employees time off to attend services within the community, we held two large meetings on Friday, September 14, in remembrance of the victims. The meetings gave employees the opportunity to share their sentiments, thus beginning and aiding the process of healing for all of us.

--Godfred P. Otuteye, president and CEO