Transitioning from Military Service to the Work Force

*This story originally appeared on www.atourfranchise.org, a website highlighting the positive impact of franchising on communities around the country.

The discipline required to stay alive in the military translates into an ability to stick with the productive action steps required to build a good company.

By Jerrod Sessler

One of the greatest challenges facing military men and women is the battle that occurs after their service ends and they transition to a civilian life. As a veteran of the U.S. Navy I am deeply aware of the challenges involved in that transition. I currently serve as the CEO of HomeTask, a multi-brand franchisor system, but it took many tough lessons to get to this place in my life. In light of the challenges I’ve faced, I’m passionate about helping other veterans walk through the post-military season of their life and I hope that my story can offer some lessons for veterans who are thinking through their own transition.

I proudly served as a petty officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation. I was assigned to the “Cat Shop,” which is short for the Catapult Steam Shop and I was a “Snipe” (Boiler Technician/Engineering). My team provided the steam power to make the ship go and the airmen operated the functions of the catapults and communicated with the aircraft pilots. After I was released from full-time service, I transitioned to full time school and part time work. The reason I chose this path is because I really enjoyed learning and felt that it gave me additional advantage towards future success.

In addition to education I also enjoyed automotive work so I started working on cars. After a few years I transitioned to a position in engineering and later worked for a couple of great companies, the most notable being the time that I spent as an engineer at Intel Corp. My time in these various roles helped me to understand the business world and learn efficiency through technology, but ultimately these attributes built on the foundation of growth and discipline that I garnered during my time in the military. Military veterans have a great set of marketable skills and a great option for them is becoming a franchise owner, which is part of my story.

I eventually left corporate America in pursuit of my entrepreneurial dreams.  It was a much bigger leap than I realized but I leaned on the self-discipline, dedication, and leadership that I learned in the Navy. I ended up starting a business in the home-service industry, called HomeTask, which franchises various brands—the first of which was Yellow Van Handyman.

The discipline required to stay alive in the military translates into an ability to stick with the productive action steps required to build a good company. The dedication pressed into members of the military is useful in all of life’s situations. The intensity that I experienced in the Navy has translated into an ability to calmly approach even the most difficult circumstances in life, including business.  Success in work and business is more than just being good at what you do. It requires having a stable, balanced life which includes a healthy home, work, and spiritual life.

The integrity that I saw in many people with whom I worked in the Navy has challenged me year after year to honor the authorities and structures over me and to work hard within the bounds of the established rules and standards expected in business. These characteristics make veterans a great fit for the franchising world.

One of the most fun parts of succeeding in business has been the ability to turn around and care for veterans, in much the same way that the military took care of me. HomeTask, along with many other franchisors, offers discounts of the initial franchise fee as part of our collective membership in the VetFran program which is sponsored by the International Franchise Association.

 

 

I pushed for this internally for multiple reasons and I believe I can speak for many other business leaders who have done the same. First, I wanted to honor veterans for who they are and what they have done. In addition, and equally as important, I wanted to be part of the solution for many of our veterans who are working through their transition from their time in service to a successful position where they can serve and support their families and lives. I do not want to see our military veterans coming home to simple, low pay positions, doing menial tasks when they are trained and able to do so much more. Franchising offers this meaningful opportunity for veterans.

If you are a veteran and considering engaging with a franchise you would really like to own then think about what it is that you want to do. Do you like to do service work in homes or do you like to sell things in a retail store? Do you like food and the daily rhythm of a restaurant?

After finding your passion you then need to consider which one of those you most enjoy and are willing to continue throughout your life. For example, if you own a restaurant as a franchisee, you are probably not going to be the chef. You are likely not even going to work in the restaurant after a while. You will probably end up wanting to own multiple locations and building a team of managers which means you will be doing a lot of human resources and people work.

If that doesn’t appeal to you then you need to look at owner-operator type businesses where you can operate what you own and hire people only as needed. Some of the Franchise Partners at HomeTask start out operating the business but then they grow to larger operations once they get the hang of the business and see how they can make it grow and increase profits through delegating some of the work. You want to be in a system that allows a lot of flexibility so you can learn, change and grow as you increase in age, income, and experience.

I hope that you will find a similar passion and joy in franchising that I found through my journey. I want to leave you with a compelling Top 10 list of why veterans are a great fit for the franchising world.

 

Jerrod’s Top 10 Reasons Why Franchising Fits for Veterans

 

  1. Veterans have a strong ability to know when it is time to work hard but also the ability to cut loose and have a little fun. Having a grasp on both of these areas will keep the mundane from taking over.

 

  1. Veterans are smart people. We figure stuff out without all of the tools we need. We have ingenuity from the experiences we have faced in life.

 

  1. Service personnel are not easily shaken. We are able to endure in difficult times and are able to respond calmly to difficult situations.

 

  1. The military teaches a certain structure that exists elsewhere but is not quite as prominent. It is important to understand a hierarchy because we need to understand where we fit in and what our responsibilities are which helps us to see a clear path to how we can contribute and improve our situation.

 

  1. Veterans do not give up. My mental toughness was stretched well beyond what I thought was possible during my time in the military. This dedication causes creativity where others may crumble in fear.

 

  1. Bootstrapping frugality is the life of many who actively serve in the military. I know I didn’t make enough to even support myself when I was on active duty. When starting a business, we need to be very disciplined to not punch a bunch of holes in our boat (or wheel barrow) that will carry us to the next phase of growth and profit. We do this by bootstrapping our way into that next phase, wisely managing expenses, while delivering the highest possible results.

 

  1. The military is a unique environment with lots of structure and many times you are required to do certain tasks in a certain way in order to achieve a certain outcome. This is not always the case with franchising but in general, in order to learn the system, you need to be willing to listen to and take and follow instruction.

 

  1. Veterans know how to work in a team. We know how to get along and we work hard to make each day an enjoyable experience even though some of the work we have to get done isn’t particularly fun. And, that work can often be dangerous.

 

  1. People who volunteer for the military are servers. Franchising is nearly always a serving environment. We are either serving the customer or an internal team member. Veterans are great in an atmosphere where they feel needed and get to serve people.

 

  1. The military solidifies a foundation into the people who successfully navigate a term of service. This foundation causes them to have an uncommon level of self-discipline. This will be extremely helpful to those who find themselves in business.

 

Jerrod Sessler is the founder and CEO of HomeTask, Inc., a multi-brand, service-focused franchisor. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org