VetFran Franchisee of the Week Archive


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

New Franchise Funding Sources are Sprouting Online

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

Franchise owners busy running businesses often struggle to locate funding options, but there are quick and simple alternatives that should be explored.

By Mark Rockefeller

Alexandra Myers, a U.S. Navy veteran, distinctly remembers her first Smoothie King visit — she was 12 at the time and her uncle insisted on taking her. The franchise was not only a staple of New Orleans, her hometown, but soon became an integral part of her childhood. Six years later, when Myers attended the U. S. Naval Academy, she instinctively knew a smoothie shop would do well on military bases such as  her campus. An idea was born.

 

Often, military personnel are isolated at work on bases and don’t have access to healthy food options. Myers saw a business opportunity and determined to run with it. After completing five years in the Navy, she combined her love for Smoothie King with her passion for putting easily-accessible, healthy options into the hands of military members. She founded Smoothie Sailing LLC in 2009 and took over three existing Smoothie King franchises.

As a young entrepreneur, Myers quickly learned that financing a franchise can be a challenge. She also discovered that banks aren’t lending the capital small businesses need to grow, especially for loans under $100,000. The number of commercial banks has significantly decreased in the past 40 years as big banks continue to consolidate. Community banks — those that are typically the biggest advocates for small-business lending — are dwindling, leaving small businesses and franchise owners, like Myers, with few financing options. So she decided to look for an alternative lending solution.

 

Putting the Community Back into Lending

With the rise of the Internet and technology has come the rise of innovative solutions for nearly all of life’s needs; business funding is no exception. One of the greatest ways the lending industry is changing is by allowing and encouraging small businesses to share their stories with potential investors in hopes of bettering their chances of securing funding. We see this model succeed time and again with the advent of crowdfunding. But what if, rather than using a rewards-based system or forcing a business to give up equity in their company, this same model was applied to traditional loans?

Lenders that allow businesses to tell their stories via an online marketplace are opening up new channels for investors to assess a business opportunity they are considering lending to. Not only will they look at the credit worthiness and financials, but they get to see the heart and soul of the business. They get to see the impact the business has on its local community and its mission and vision for growth. Allowing business owners to tell their story is re-opening the tradition of when community banks lent to businesses because they knew the owner personally and could vouch for their character.

When Myers discovered StreetShares, a peer-to-peer small-business lender, she found a way to experience how community banks used to work—by putting the community aspect back into it. On StreetShares, small-business owners have the opportunity to tell their stories to potential investors by creating a business pitch — complete with business plans, images, videos, or anything else they want to showcase about their business. Myers was able to share her business vision which led to investors competing to lend to her because they believed both in that vision and in the business.

 

Funding Sources for Franchises

With new types of financing sprouting up among online lenders, it is also important to understand what the options are, and how to interpret them. Given that banks have stopped lending the capital small businesses need to grow, here are a few options for you to consider when looking for funding:

  • SBA Loans

While the U.S. Small Business Administration is not new, it is a great place to start. The SBA is not only an advocate for small businesses in our national government, but it also works alongside local banks and lending institutions to provide financing programs for businesses looking to grow. The SBA has loan programs for businesses at all stages of growth, including general starting and expansion loans, microloans, loans for equipment or real estate, and others. The agency’s website, www.sba.gov, offers myriad resources for businesses to assist them in the process of finding funding.

  • Peer-to-Peer Term Loans

 

Peer-to-peer lending, also known as marketplace lending, is a way for individuals to lend money to their businesses without going through traditional channels, such as banks. Traditionally, investors — both retail and institutional — choose which businesses to lend to based on the credit score, perceived risk of the loan, and the financials of the business. As P2P lending has grown in the United States over the past 10 years, new contenders in the space have brought in innovative components that allow lenders to put the “peer” aspect back into P2P by allowing business owners to tell their stories directly to investors. One of the benefits of P2P term loans is that they are often unsecured, meaning the lending company won’t tie your assets up as collateral.

 

  • Factoring (or Accounts Receivable Financing)

In factoring — or accounts receivable financing — a business sells its invoices to a third party commercial company which advances the business a percentage of the invoice. The third party company then collects the invoice for the business, gives the business a rebate, and keeps the remaining percentage. Accounts receivable financing can be a good option for businesses facing a cash crunch while waiting for customer payments. This option provides a quick boost to cash flow and can help with short-term financial needs.

  • Merchant Cash Advances

Merchant cash advances offer a quick but very expensive way to get cash for your business. Even if your business has credit issues, getting approved can be fast and easy, with very little paperwork involved. Business owners pay back the cash advance by allowing the lender to take back a portion of their sales every day until the entire amount has been paid, along with a fee. While this can be a quick solution, you should be aware that the annual percentage rate of a cash advance is very expensive, anywhere from 50 percent to 300 percent.

Your story

When Alexandra Myers chose her lender, she studied which options worked best for her and her growing business. She borrowed $30,000 to expand and cover operating costs for a new store location. Currently, she manages seven franchise locations on military bases throughout the United States. Her vision of providing healthy meal options to members of the armed services continues to advance.

What about you?

Franchise owners like you are busy running a businesses, which can make it hard to dig into all the available funding options. But next time you think about financing your franchise, consider exploring some of the alternatives.   You’ll be surprised at how quick and simple it might be.

How will your financing advance the story of your business?

 

Mark Rockefeller is CEO and co-founder of marketplace lender StreetShares. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.

Veterans Look to Franchising as Second Career

The pursuit of a fulfilling career in a veteran’s post-military life does not have to be an uphill battle. There are many other resources and mentors to help veterans better define their careers and support them in their path forward.

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

By Tim Davis, CFE

For many veterans, determining a career path after their time in the military is an important step as they ease back into civilian life. They’ve served their country, defined their skills and have many accomplishments to celebrate, but it’s not always clear how this can translate into business experience.

As a veteran myself, I know the challenges that face servicemen and women when they return home. And through my experience at The UPS Store, I’ve seen firsthand how franchising can be a natural career choice for veterans. They’re able to apply valuable military skills and experiences to become successful franchise owners.

In fact, in a recent survey conducted by The UPS Store, 63 percent of service members who envisioned a second career as small-business owners considered owning a franchise and 54 percent said they feel confident that the skills they gained while in the military will help them succeed in the civilian world.

Wanted: Honest work that reflects values

John Bareswill is one such franchisee who has found success in his second career. He spent more than 24 years in the U.S. Navy as a signalman, a sailor who specializes in visual communication. When searching for a post-military career, he decided he wanted to work for himself and started looking into franchise opportunities. He wanted a company that allowed him to do honest work and reflected his values. Bareswill now owns and operates a The UPS Store in Virginia Beach, Va.

As a military town, Virginia Beach gives Bareswill the opportunity to stay connected with and serve veteran and active-duty customers. He credits his time in the Navy with teaching him communication and leadership skills, which are crucial to the success of this business. Not only are his military skills transferrable, they’re valued in the franchising world. But, what ultimately attracted him to franchising was the community of franchisees who work together and help each other learn and grow.

“We all want to be successful, but as I learned in the military, it takes a good team and a support network to do well with any mission,” Bareswill noted. “I want to be able to say I did my best to make my own business successful while helping my fellow franchisees, many of whom are veterans like me. And The UPS Store franchise system allows me to do just that.”

Same language, same points of view

George Berkley is another such example. After being drafted during college and serving on nuclear submarines, Berkley began his second career as a UPS Store franchisee in South Orange, N.J. In his day-to-day operations, he draws on the self-confidence, organizational skills and structure he learned in the U.S. Navy to serve his customers.

“Customers come into the store with problems and we can solve them because of forethought and preparation,” said Berkley.

Berkley believes that veterans make great business owners. He is always on the lookout for opportunities to support other veterans and helps train other veteran UPS Store owners. He finds it easy to connect with other veterans because they communicate in the same way.

“We talk the same language and we look at things the same way,” Berkley explained.

Military skills are valuable tools in franchises

Bareswill and Berkley are outstanding examples, but there are many other veterans who hone similar skills, values and experiences that make them good business owners. For veterans who are considering franchising as a post-military career, there are several ways that their military skills can be valuable tools as they embark on this new journey:

  • The military culture encourages taking initiative and leadership. Being a successful franchisee requires leadership, too. Veterans are well equipped to be leaders and set expectations for their business with themselves and employees.

 

  • Ability to follow procedures. Veterans understand that having a clear plan is the key to achieving success. The franchise system equips franchisees with training to run their businesses efficiently and effectively, which is beneficial because 68 percent of service members who participated in the survey felt that training would help them overcome their concerns about transitioning to the civilian workforce. The training and support provided by franchise systems are critical components in equipping franchisees for success.

 

  • Being in the military requires the drive to work hard. It’s no surprise that being a franchisee requires the same sort of dedication. Fortunately, the franchise system has the benefit of a network of support and training to make things easier for the new franchisee.

 

  • Ability to work under pressure. Being a franchise owner is a lot of responsibility for one person, but that’s nothing new for veterans. The ability to keep calm and work under pressure is something that military service members are well equipped to do. Fortunately, being part of a franchise also offers support when needed.

 

Franchise opportunities allow veterans to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. They are supported by the many tools and resources provided by the company and other franchisees. Since 2004, The UPS Store has awarded more than 150 franchises to first-time veteran buyers through the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran) program, a cooperation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Corporation, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. At The UPS Store, all qualifying veterans receive $10,000 off the franchise fee for a new location and 50 percent off the initial application fee.

The pursuit of a fulfilling career in a veteran’s post-military life does not have to be an uphill battle. Outside of The UPS Store, there are many other resources and mentors to help veterans better define their careers and support them in their path forward. They are encouraged to tap into these opportunities and be confident that they have the skills and experience to find a rewarding career.

 

Tim Davis, CFE, is president of The UPS Store, Inc. and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.

Moving Left: Reaching the Veteran Before Transition

By George G. Eldridge

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

Marriott event serves as a launching point for an initiative that helps military veterans find career opportunities in small business.

On May 5, as part of National Small Business Week, TownePlace Suites kicked off its new military community-focused initiative with an intimate networking event and seminar. TownePlace Suites Clinton at Joint Base Andrews (Clinton, Md.), hosted a group of veterans and spouses to provide insight on becoming a small business or hotel owner from executives representing Marriott International, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the International Franchise Association (IFA) VetFran program. Military service members can spend a lot of time away from their families on the road. The inevitable hotel stay is something many American patriots are accustomed to, as relocations and military duties spanning the country are part of the job. This is where partnerships such as the one with Marriott International come into play.

“We are very pleased to partner with the SBA and TownePlace Suites on this very important initiative,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE. “Programs such as this serve as a great platform for our military members to find career opportunities that allow them to serve in a different and meaningful role.” Barbara Carson, acting associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, added: “Veterans have the experience, courage and determination to become successful entrepreneurs, and the United States and the franchise industry is investing in them.”

VetFran is aiming to help provide military membersinformation on employment and ownership opportunities in franchising through efforts such as the TownePlace Suites event. Some of these opportunities may be in the short-term, while others may stretch several years down the road. VetFran is working in cooperation with several other organizations, such as the SBA, to help provide information on small business ventures. VetFran also takes an active role in the Boots to Business program that the SBA offers throughout the country. This two-day program introduces military members to aspects of small business and contains specific details about the franchise industry.

VetFran is also teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in order to be able to attend several of the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes events at military bases and the surrounding communities. This is an excellent opportunity for current military members to learn about the prospect of franchising while still serving in the military. Lastly, VetFran is beginning to work with military family resource centers to provide literature and other materials so that military members can research on their own. This effort will also include working to become more involved with the mandatory transition classes that all services provide to separating personnel.

Much has been written about veterans transitioning from the military to the private sector. Several sources state that several hundred-thousand members will be leaving the ranks of the military as a result of the drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the thousands of expected separations due to the end of an enlistment or contract.

Members of the military often project when they will retire and have a fair amount of lead time before separating. These members will also have the benefit of a military pension to help ease them into the transition from the military to the private sector. Current statistics state that only 17 percent will stay long enough to earn a full pension from the military. That means that 83 percent of military members will transition from the military at some point on their life.

I separated from active duty in the U.S. Air Force in 2010. Members are bombarded with many sources and programs before they separate from the military. My situation was no different. Having so many different programs available is a great thing, but it comes with several challenges.  I had several months to begin searching for a new career, but the amount of resources was intimidating. Knowing where to start in the hunt for my next job was difficult. The challenge was further compounded by the fact that I was stationed overseas as I was transitioning out of the military. This specific scenario helps demonstrate that there are multiple aspects of life pulling at the member as they begin to transition. There are family and current job requirements that cannot be ignored while the member is attempting to look for a new job and, in most cases, a new place to call home. This challenge is exacerbated if the member lives overseas and cannot afford the travel or the time off from the job to visit the United States for an interview or job hunting. The aforementioned challenges, along with many others, makes it obvious why it is so important to reach out to the actively serving military members regarding possible job or ownership opportunities within franchising sooner, rather than later.

Many of the transition programs have improved and continue to advance since I left active duty only five years ago. At that time, there was little information aimed at separating military members regarding franchising. Rightfully so, the military can be hesitant to allow the promotion of other career opportunities because of a vested interest in keeping such highly qualified men and women. However, since 83 percent of those members will not retire from the military, the earlier they can learn about opportunities outside the uniform, the better chance they have for a smoother transition into the private sector.

For more information, please visit VetFran.com or email George Eldridge at GEldridge@franchise.org.

Veterans as Franchisees: Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum

By Michael Haith

From boot camp to business owners, veterans make such great franchisees. Their unique skillsets, experience, and training make them uniquely qualified to run successful businesses.

Veterans are a different breed. Committed, driven and resourceful, they’re also independent and rebellious in their own right. The “go get ‘em” attitude is in their DNA, so it’s no surprise they make for awesome business-owners back on the homefront.

Russell McCray, an Air Force vet and aforementioned awesome Teriyaki Madness franchisee, feels that his time in the service prepped him pretty well for running his own business:

“One of the greatest things that the military teaches soldiers, especially those in leadership positions, are applicative concepts like flexibility, attention to detail, situational awareness, risk mitigation, and different types of leadership styles for different types
of situations.” 

McCray served six years of active duty with the Air Force and four years of reserve duty. He was inspired to serve by his family’s commitment to service; his father served 27 years in the Army and his uncle served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. McCray’s inspiration for starting his own business, however, came from his incredible drive.

“I remember being a young officer driving along the beach, I would see these huge homes on the ocean, and I assumed those homes were all owned by either movie stars, or senior ranking military officers… to my surprise, I found out eventually that most, if not all, of the homes were owned by business owners with very few being senior military officers. So, I began the process of researching the types of businesses that would allow an individual to live on the beach.”

Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual Asian concept based in Colorado, may not be handing out beachfront homes, but the growing chain shares a lot of traits with veterans like McCray. One in particular — their ability to have some fun while getting things done — drew him to the company.

“I first came into contact with Teriyaki Madness while vacationing in Las Vegas,” McCray said. “I believe there are lots of similarities in their goals, which appealed to me. Couple that with the fact that Michael (CEO Michael Haith) and his team are down to earth and know how to have fun… that’s something I didn’t really get from the larger franchise opportunities I looked at.”

McCray currently lives in Atlanta and has plans to open three locations. We assume he took this interview from his top-secret, beach side compound.

But Russ McCray isn’t the only one looking to get the Madness in more locations. The company saw a 45 percent increase in units from 2015 (24) to 2016 (35) and is expecting an 80 percent growth rate in units opening 2016-2017. Because of Teriyaki Madness’ scalability and simplicity, nearly 55 percent of its owners are multi-unit operators.

All that growth has brought a few more veterans into the fold, including guys like Navy vet Joe Cleveland. 

Cleveland and his wife Robin opened their first shop in Marietta, Ga. in January. He says the transition from Navy to franchise owner was pretty seamless. After all, he’s been doing this management thing for a while.

Serving in the Navy Supply Corps for six years, Cleveland worked in the Navy’s Business Management Program. He was responsible for everything from finance operations, supply inventory, and logistics, to retail operations and food. Needless to say, Joe holds some rank when it comes to business experience.

After his stint with the Navy, Cleveland has continued his passion for business, working for General Mills as a senior operations manager, and even opening a startup helping fellow veterans secure loans and find financial assistance. But, it was Teriyaki Madness that enlisted him back in the world of food. And he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s like the military in that you get some semblance of a road map, but you get to make it your own,” he says. “There’s great corporate support… the organization is very progressive in terms of thought and direction.”

If there’s one piece of advice Cleveland can give other veterans (or anyone) looking to become a franchisee, it’s this: do your homework. “Do your due diligence. Look at organizations that have benefits for veterans, whether it is a reduced franchising fee or financing. Make sure they have the support to help you and make sure you’re successful,” he said.

Most franchises in the food industry offer a discount for veterans, and Teriyaki Madness is no different. The chain offers 15 percent off the base franchising fee, something that gave veterans like Cleveland a great
starting point.

Statistics show that veterans are, indeed, getting into the franchise game. As of the 2012 census, one in seven franchises in the U.S. is owned by veterans. That’s approximately 9 percent of all business owners. That’s a whole lot of math, but it basically means this: veterans are finding success with the franchise formula.

Frank Giuliano is an Army veteran who served three years with the 101st Airborne and four years in the Reserves. Since his time in the service, he’s definitely scratched his
entrepreneurial itch.

He owned his own restaurant, Frankie’s Red Hot Restaurant, and sold it for a profit. He’s worked as a carpenter and found success. Heck, he even started his own chimney sweep company. And in his new venture, he’s finding the one thing that makes franchising different than any other business he’s been a part of: support.

“You don’t have to go out there on your own. You have back up in the franchising system. At Frankie’s (his restaurant), I felt like I was drowning because I was there by myself. Now I can put the pieces of the puzzle together. If I follow everything then I know it is going to work. I don’t have to experiment to find the perfect things.”

Giuliano currently owns a location in Cape Coral, Fla. Like Russ McCray and Joe Cleveland, he’s looking to open more locations in the near future. For Teriyaki Madness, that’s a few good men doing a lot in their communities.

Teriyaki Madness’ brand purpose is simple: “To provide opportunities for success for all.” They even serve their food with cutlery called “The Chork,” a fork/chopstick hybrid with a slightly suggestive name. In short, the chain is giving others who think outside of the box enough freedom and structure to be successful. Those are all things guys like Russ, Joe, and Frank could get on board with.

From boot camp to business owners (and hopefully to beach front house for Russ), it’s easy to see why vets make such great franchisees. Their unique skillsets, experience, and training make them uniquely qualified to run successful businesses. And they are living proof the idea of service goes well beyond any one industry, category, or company.

Thank you for your service, Russ, Joe, and Frank. And thank you for showing that vets make some damn good business owners. We’ll see you out there.

Find out more: www.franchise.org/teriyaki-madness-franchise.

 

Michael Haith is CEO of Teriyaki Madness, a growing fast-casual Asian food concept based in Denver, Colo.

A Veteran Family Affair in Action

Creating a heritage of personal responsibility and excellence.

By Steve Wadlington

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

At WIN Home Inspection, our focus has always been on recruiting worthy people with drive, discipline and a passion for owning their own business.  Before launching our WIN for America program in 2012, in which we joined in partnership with the International Franchise Association’s VetFran effort to offer award credits to potential strategic-partners (franchisees), we observed the core of our network was already largely made up of veterans. Wade Palmer is one of our many fine veterans.

Family Franchise Dynasty Begins

Sgt. Michael “Wade” Palmer, who retired from the Army National Guard/Air National Guard and his wife Teresa began operating WIN Home Inspection Bend, Oregon in 2003 with much success. According to Palmer, they “bought a franchise to focus on running a business and not building the system behind it.” Prior to joining WIN, Palmer was a telephone operator in Alaska and also worked for a fuel system/construction company. He operated two successful businesses too, a motel and RV park, and then a furniture manufacturing business. “We bought a WIN franchise partly because I like being my own boss while not having to manage a team of employees. Owning and operating a WIN franchise is less work than having employees.”

However, when their son, Corporal Michael Ryan Palmer was honorably discharged after five years of active duty with the Marines in 2012, their business was thriving and they were looking for an additional inspector. It was only natural for Michael to join their team as the answer to their search.

Michael had sought out other opportunities, and was also considering going back to school, however, he loved the idea of working for his family’s business, and the WIN Home Office welcomed him whole-heartedly!

WIN values the opportunity to assist in the transition from soldier to civilian life and strives to provide the necessary support to ensure success. “Most of the guys I know are still trying to get back on their feet, and I was really lucky to have this business to come straight into,” says Michael. “Coming out of the Marine Corps, I felt like I was really making a difference and I still feel like that, helping my clients make one of the biggest decisions of their life. What I do matters.”

As a veteran family, Wade, Teresa and Michael all agree that they have learned how to communicate with all types of people, a key skill when providing a service to homeowners.

With Michael, the Palmer operation has further built their WIN business, with the addition of nearly 200 more inspections per year. “I work as hard for our WIN business as I did getting ready for an observation post. I feel like I have a great advantage in the workplace as I can get more done with less and make things happen in adverse conditions.”

 

Balancing Act

With all this said, while Wade and Michael are both esteemed veterans, Wade says he can’t forget he’s the boss and he’s the dad. “I always have to remember what hat I’m wearing. I can address Michael differently than I would other employees and he can be more honest with me too. However, respect is key and it’s always at the center of our operation.”

While Michael was hired on as an inspector through an existing veteran owned location, to date, WIN has awarded 23 WIN for America service awards to additional veterans since 2012. WIN has pledged a commitment of over $1.2 million to the WIN for America program to assist veterans, vowing to help 50 new veteran candidates become WIN business owners. WIN Home Inspection is still actively recruiting to fill those additional territories. We are not just veteran friendly, we are actually veteran focused; it’s good for our veterans, and good for our WIN business.

Blending veterans with franchising is a natural fit. Veterans appreciate a proven plan for business, where they know that proper execution and hard work will produce success. And as Michael reiterates, hard work is the key to any workday, in active duty or in the life of a home inspector. “When I go to work, I work. When the work day is done, I get dinner.”

Steve Wadlington is president of WIN Home Inspection, which has 187 locations in 31 states.  Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.

Pull quote

Blending veterans with franchising is a natural fit.

Heroes Among Us: The Quiet Success of Veterans In Franchising

Veterans are positively impacting franchising, their strong leadership and tireless can-do spirit is an inspiration for all.

By Eric Stites, CFE

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

Veterans’ impact on franchising is significant. There are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses in the U.S. today, which provide jobs for 815,000 Americans. Yet franchisees who are veterans stay out the limelight, quietly working hard behind the scenes building successful businesses. They don’t consider themselves heroes and don’t want any special recognition, but we owe them so much.

The International Franchise Association’s Veteran’s Transition Franchise Initiative, known as VetFran, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of supporting veterans interested in franchising. It salutes the brave men and women who have served our country and the franchising industry. They are our friends, our colleagues and team members. Here are just a few of their inspirational stories:

 

Steve Carey: Air Force Veteran and CertaPro Painters Franchisee 

As a fighter pilot, then colonel in the U.S. Air Force, where he served for 30 years, Steve Carey relished strategy, leadership and taking calculated risks. When it came time to retire from the military in 2007, he was drawn to business ownership because it required those same skills.

“My wife and I went through a multitude of options on what we could do as business owners. Should we start our own niche store somewhere? Or did we want to go to corporate America? Or did we want to follow along with a franchise?” Carey explained. “We came to the resolution that we didn’t want to start a brick-and-mortar business where we were tied to it from eight to five. We wanted something that was engaging, where we could connect with people, and where we had the decision-making ability to grow the business to whatever level we chose.”

That something was franchising, the Careys decided. Soon, a franchise headhunter introduced them to several opportunities and they quickly settled on CertaPro Painters, even though they hadn’t been looking specifically for a painting business.

“I saw things in CertaPro that paralleled my vision, both at the corporate level and franchisee level. They were focused on ensuring success for franchisees, and they were a people-oriented organization in which it was very easy to connect with people at the corporate level. They were really focused on trying to grow a culture of good businessmen and women.”

“What I learned in the military has been very helpful in running my business. I learned you have to prioritize and you have to be pretty organized with tasks and tasks management. As I grew in rank, I took on more leadership positions that developed my people management, task management and strategizing skills,” added Carey.

When speaking about the CertaPro business model, he said, “CertaPro is not about painting, painting is what we do, it’s about running a good business, listening to customers, delivering extraordinary experiences and that takes a lot more than just paint.”

Carey’s advice for prospective franchisees: “I would recommend when you choose a path, don’t focus on the exact nature of the industry; focus on what you have to do in that industry. Be sure that the industry represents the things you enjoy doing.”

 

Josh Lien: Army Veteran and Mosquito Joe franchisee

Not a lot of people can say they met their spouse while salsa dancing in Afghanistan, but Josh Lien can. He retired from the U.S. Army as a captain in 2007, then spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan doing government contract work before meeting and marrying his wife, then having their first child. He split his time between Texas and Afghanistan until their second child arrived, then Lien decided it was time to find something local. That something was a Mosquito Joe franchise.

“Purchasing a franchise seemed like a logical next step because I wanted to have the flexibility in my schedule that business ownership provides, without having to develop a business from scratch,” Lien said. “When I came across the Mosquito Joe franchise opportunity the original thing that hit me was the fact that I’m really an outdoors person but my wife absolutely hates mosquitoes. One bite and she doesn’t want to be outside anymore. It wasn’t a service I was familiar with before, but I definitely felt it was a need I could fulfill in the community.”

Running a franchise requires many skills: the ability to follow the franchisor’s established process, lead under pressure, and work with many types of people. In many ways, the military cultivates the ideal franchisee.

“There are a lot of intangible skills that military service imparts, and I rather like to distill this package of skills down a single phrase: the ability to make things happen,” said Lien.

Lien has been making things happen with his business in the Lone Star State. Since launching his Mosquito Joe franchise in Round Rock two years ago, he has expanded his service area to cover Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Georgetown areas.

“When I originally decided to go with Mosquito Joe, I started out with one territory and then about halfway through the first season, after I saw the kind of growth and the income potential, that’s what really led me to expand. It was a really great fit with the market.”

While mosquito control services aren’t always an obvious choice for a prospective franchisee’s consideration set, Lien explains finding the right fit in a specific franchise model involves looking at a variety of factors.

“Potential franchisees need to look at the type of industry they want to work in, an initial investment level they’re comfortable with, the strength of the specific location they’ll be operating in (demand, competition, demographics, etc.) and overall financials.”

 

Eric Stewart: Army Veteran and Window Genie Franchisee

After retiring as a master sergeant from the Army in 2008 and returning to Iraq and Afghanistan to serve the troops as a contractor until early 2014, Eric Stewart returned home for good. He sent his resume to almost 70 employers. “I think I was only called in for two interviews,” Stewart said. “I had no idea how hard it would be for me to get a job.”

Veterans nationwide are struggling like Stewart to find jobs after serving in the military. Possible reasons are that many don’t know how to market themselves in a civilian space and not all employers understand how to read a military resume or how it’s relevant to positions they are looking to fill. According to a 2015 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, there were 573,000 unemployed veterans in 2014: 59 percent were age 45 and over, 37 percent were age 25 to 44, and 4 percent were age 18 to 24. The unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans (6.9 percent) was higher than the rate for male nonveterans (6.2 percent) in 2014.

Shortly after beginning his job search, Stewart was contacted by Bruce Krebs, a franchise coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source. Together they were able to discover which franchise opportunities best fit Stewart’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and goals. Stewart said, “Bruce helped me realize business ownership was the best opportunity for me to be both successful and happy; I wouldn’t do well behind a desk. I was excited immediately at the prospect of being my own boss and creating a future and legacy for me and my family.”

Among the franchise options Krebs presented to Stewart was Window Genie, which Stewart and his wife, Nydia, quickly decided to invest in. “I liked Window Genie’s proven business model and felt that the corporate office genuinely cared about my success. I felt it was a business I could successfully manage while still maintaining a life for myself and my family,” said Stewart.

Stewart has been so pleased with his experience as a Window Genie franchise that he recommended purchasing one to his good friends Barry Ellis, an Army veteran and his wife, Mazie, an active duty Army sergeant. Before deciding to invest in a Window Genie franchise in Fayetteville, N.C., which the Mazies did in 2015, Bill Mazie paid a visit to Stewart.

“I went to see Eric at his home office and saw the trucks, the equipment, how he had everything set up. It helped me see into the real day-to-day life of a Window Genie owner,” says Mazie.

Stewart’s advice for prospective franchisees is, “Do extensive research and talk to business owners who are not just in the field you want to pursue. There is a wealth of knowledge out there and you’ll be surprised how many people will share the secrets of their success with you.”

 

Chris Parker: Air Force Veteran and Sport Clips Franchisee 

On the surface, Chris Parker’s life as a Sport Clips franchisee seems worlds away from the 22 years he spent in the Air Force, primarily flying. The differences however, are not as significant as they initially appear to be. That’s because Sport Clips founder and CEO Gordon Logan, was a pilot like Parker before starting the franchise, and the sports-oriented hair business is run more like a fighter jet than a barber shop.

“Gordon and his team did a great job making sure that everything was planned out. He was a pilot like I was, and our lives depended on checklists. Everything was dictated to us. If regulations say we can do something, we can. That’s the type of thinking that Gordon put into this franchise,” Parker said.

Parker and his wife and business partner, Karen, opened their San Antonio-based Sport Clips franchise in 2008. Although they had no previous experience in hair care before buying the franchise, they liked the way it was set up and felt it would be easy to run.

“For us to do this, we needed to make sure we were comfortable enough to execute the game plan. It is a very simple concept — it’s one thing,” Parker said. “We liked that it was an owner-investment and that we were building equity in the future.”

Even with a simple concept, Parker said the early days of running his franchise were scary. He and his wife spent many hours in the store and when they weren’t there, they were

thinking about it.

“Basically what you’re doing is marrying the franchise, and your kid is the store. You’re always checking to make sure it’s well and fed,” Parker said. “If you don’t like being a parent, you shouldn’t be a franchisee.”

Parker recommends prospective franchisees take their time to find a franchise that will provide the support and guidance — or in Parker’s case, the checklists — that will make the early days of business ownership less stressful.

 

It is clear from the success that Carey, Lien, Stewart, Parker and many others have achieved, that franchising is a good career option for many veterans. They are provided with a blueprint — a proven system — for how their franchise needs to be run in order to be successful. Franchise ownership also enables them to be part of a team and in a leadership role, which may give them the sense of belonging they grew accustomed to while in active service as well as meet their mission-oriented nature.

On behalf of IFA’s VetFran program and the entire franchise community, we thank not only the veterans who are positively impacting franchising, but all veterans. Your strong leadership and tireless can-do spirit is an inspiration for all.

 

Eric Stites, CFE, is the CEO and managing director of Franchise Business Review, and Chair of the VetFran Committee. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.

Franchising Opportunities for Veterans

By Joey Williams

It is important that, post-military service, veterans have access to economic opportunity. That is why at IFA, we support veterans through our VetFran initiative. VetFran, founded in 1991, provides incentives, training, and mentoring to veterans transitioning to a career in franchising. IFA partners with over 600 franchises to ensure proper benefits for veterans.

While many career paths meet veterans’ needs and goals, franchising is uniquely suited to their abilities. Accordingly, the IFA Educational Foundation found that veterans own one in seven franchise businesses in the United States.

Franchising requires strong leadership, teamwork, and direction-following. After serving in the military, veterans have unmatched leadership experience. As a result, they can lead of a team of employees to meet successful results. Their appreciation and utilization of teamwork, stemming from high-stake military action, makes them perfectly fit to create an atmosphere where employees work for each other. A team-oriented organization is likely to meet their goals. Lastly, franchises receive extensive training to follow specific organizational procedures. Veterans leave the military with an unwavering commitment to follow instructions closely. These characteristics make veterans leading candidates to own and operate franchises.

Franchises recognize veterans’ success at running businesses, leading many organizations to encourage veterans to franchise. UPS, for example, offers $10,000 off the franchise fee for qualified veterans. While companies like UPS that support veterans should be venerated, they do this largely because veterans overwhelmingly display qualities necessary for owning a franchise.

Every day show your appreciation for the veterans who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom. At the same time, make sure they are aware of the economic opportunities that fit their experiences and talents. While our appreciation of veterans if often based on their past accomplishments, their future is equally important. Franchising represents a viable and highly rewarding option for veterans with entrepreneurial ambitions.

VetFran Helps Soldier Become Multi-Unit Which Wich Franchisee

Anthony Maquinalez is a Texas-based multi-unit owner of Which Wich, with stores in Georgetown, Harker Heights, Waco, and Mansfield. He’s served in the Texas Army National Guard for seven years and is currently a First Lieutenant.

By Hala Habal

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Maquinalez: When I first graduated from Texas State, I went to my officer basic course for the U.S. Army. Immediately after training, I was told I was going to Afghanistan. When I got back, I realized I had no job. I joined the Police Academy and realized it wasn’t for me. I met a guy who was selling a Which Wich and decided to invest. I had eaten Which Wich sandwiches in college so I knew the product was good. For me, coming out of the military and not having a lot of business experience, franchising was a great fit. The military is all about procedures and execution. Being part of a franchise is similar — they already have a good product and there are already operating procedures in place. So, franchising is a perfect fit for a soldier.

What was your experience with IFA’s VetFran program?

Maquinalez: When I bought the first store, we heard about the VetFran program and it seemed great because it pushed me over the edge to dive into Which Wich. Attracting veterans is a great thing. Veterans are going to be your perfect franchisee. Soldiers are trained to follow orders. As a franchisee, you’re your own boss, but there’s a common operating picture that Which Wich lays out to uphold the brand standard. Soldiers are used to following orders and upholding a standard.

How did your military experience prepare you to be a successful franchisee?

Maquinalez: I had been an officer my entire career in the military. I’d been sent to multiple leadership schools — my entire job was to be a “jack of all trades” and manipulate soldiers on the battlefield. Having that broad management ability to get things done and delegate tasks has been a perfect fit for Which Wich. I didn’t have to reinvent the standard operating procedure. I had to come in and develop and mentor my team and make sure everything operates smoothly. And a leader in the military comes in to manage, delegate and oversee.

After three years with Which Wich, what’s next?

Maquinalez: I’m looking to open an annex to my Mansfield store, which is about a mile down the road inside the break room of Mauser Electronics (​​1,500 employees on that campus). We’ll prep and slice at the Mansfield store; there will be ovens and a line at Mauser. The company’s CEO eats with us all the time and came through and said he wanted to build it. He’s been eating with us for a long time. The CEO said ‘everybody likes your food, let’s put it in!’”

Hala Habal is Vice President of Communications for Which Wich. Find out more about franchise opportunities at Which Wich.

Air Force Veteran Finds Success and Fun in Franchising

An entrepreneur at heart, Melissa Anderson was looking for a new opportunity.

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

She spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force stationed at various bases including Little Rock, Ark., Lakenheath, England and Incirlik, Turkey, and five years as an education specialist. She later moved to Florida with her husband and sought out a career change. A frequent reader of entrepreneurial magazines, Anderson began researching her options. She found something interesting.

“At that time, I’d never heard of the ‘Sip and Paint’ industry so when I came across it, it got my attention,” Anderson recalls. “That’s how I found Bottle & Bottega,” she continued, adding that the brand combines two of her passions — art and event planning.

While she had never been to a Bottle & Bottega studio, Anderson was drawn to the concept because it combined her two main interests. As the process moved along, the company’s management team helped her get a better understanding of what is involved in owning and operating a paint and sip studio. Anderson opened a Bottle & Bottega location in Jacksonville in August 2015, becoming the first for the brand in the area and the second across Florida. By opening a franchise location, Anderson also saw this as an opportunity to use skills learned in the military, including perseverance, drive, leadership and the determination to succeed.

Without the franchise business model, Anderson wouldn’t have been in position to own a business. “The idea behind a franchise and what drew me to it correlates to my military experience. Having the operating procedures and back-end tasks done gives you a running start in the brand,” she said.

For others interested in franchising, Anderson offers a few tips learned from experience. “First and foremost, you really have to put yourself out there,” she said, adding that networking quickly became her biggest tool. This was especially important for Anderson, who reached an agreement with Bottle & Bottega before she ever actually lived in Florida. “It was an extremely bold move to sign the franchise agreement prior to having even lived in the territory where we were moving,” Anderson recalls. Upon arriving, she immediately joined the local Chamber of Commerce and started attending networking meetings. “Opening the franchise forced me to really immerse myself in the community, which has been great. I’ve met amazing fellow business owners who are not only associates, but now dear friends.”

Getting involved and establishing “authentic relationships within your community” can lead to success. “You build each other up, and they help you build your business,” Anderson said. The Jacksonville Bottle & Bottega hosts fundraisers and believes that giving back to the community and working with charitable organizations are important parts of establishing a successful business.

Another tip, she said, is to “take action every day and put in the work,” which increases the chances that your location, and the corporate brand, will hit benchmarks and stay on a path of growth.

“Every day, you have to take consistent action, even if it’s small, because eventually all that compounds and builds, and it may be months — it could be a year — before you reap those rewards. As long as you put forth the effort, you will see results.” Also important is making sure you are in tune with the franchise concept.

“Franchising is really about relationships, so when signing onto a franchise, it’s important that the franchisee and the franchisor are a good fit for each other,” Anderson said. “The corporate team at Bottle & Bottega really feels like an extended family.”

Exclusive Interview With Veteran Who Won His Own Franchise

Veterans continue to have an impact on the franchise community, with companies like CruiseOne/Dream Vacations featuring more than 30 percent of its units owned by veterans or active-duty spouses. CruiseOne/Dream Vacations has awarded five free franchise locations to veterans Jason Bloomquist, Cory Jennings, James Selleh, Jay Starks and Chuck Wellman as part of its “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” program. IFA’s @OurFranchise spoke with each of the winners to find out why they decided to transition into franchising. The first profile is with Cory Jennings, a U.S. Navy veteran based on Midland, Texas.

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

@OurFranchise: Why did you decide to enter the CruiseOne/Dream Vacations contest and go into franchising? 

Jennings: My wife and I have wanted to own our own business for around the last five years and after much discussion, decided to pursue a Dream Vacations franchise. This industry combines our love of travel and the ability to create our own path. We get to flex our entrepreneurial spirit in a fun and exciting business.

@OurFranchise: Do you believe military veterans and franchising is a good fit? 

Jennings: Absolutely. Military veterans have a work ethic second to none and franchising provides them with an opportunity to benefit from their hard work. Franchising provides veterans with a more streamlined path to succeed once they have left the military, and after volunteering their time and potentially their lives, they deserve it.

@OurFranchise: What advice would you give to military veterans interested in franchising? 

Jennings: Research the company and opportunity thoroughly. There are many potential franchises and companies available and they are not all created with your best interests in mind. Find an industry that you are passionate about and an opportunity that offers the right incentives.

@OurFranchise: Why should franchises hire veterans? 

Jennings: Tim Courtney, Vice President of Franchise Development for Dream Vacations, said recently at an event to honor our country’s veterans that “if a man is willing to die for his country, think of what he is willing to do for your company.” That pretty much sums it up.

@OurFranchise: How can franchises support veteran-franchise owners?

Jennings: Simply by providing them with the opportunity to succeed, and giving them the tools and support necessary to help them grow their business, veterans have the work ethic necessary to do the rest.

From Hobby to Successful Career: One Coastguard Veteran’s Journey

After serving six years in the United States Coast Guard, Dan Hayes ventured into the corporate world by climbing the rungs at one of the world’s most established brands: Coca-Cola.

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

While working at the Coca-Cola Company, Mr. Hayes purchased rental properties as a way to broaden his own investment portfolio. In his spare time, he worked as a do-it-yourself landlord. Mr. Hayes quickly realized that his hobby proved quite lucrative. He considered going out on his own, but he wanted the professional operational support and resources he was used to in the corporate world.

He decided to buy a Real Property Management franchise in August 2015.

Mr. Hayes says joining a franchise has provided him with access to proven systems and business resources to help with marketing, training and operations. Ultimately, the support has given him a competitive advantage over independent operators.

In less than one year, Mr. Hayes was honored with the 2016 Rising Star Award by Property Management Business Solutions, the franchisor of Real Property Management. This award recognizes a newer franchisee who has had early success and contributes new life to the organization with their presence.

For those interested in learning about franchising opportunities with Real Property Management, you can read more here.

Veteran CEO: Some of the Best Franchisees in the Business Are Veterans

Full excerpt from Sport Clips CEO Gordon Logan on how franchises can help veterans.

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

In recent years, much attention has focused on rebuilding the economy and resurrecting the American dream. Yet one area often overlooked is the success of franchising and the millions of opportunities found in the business model, particularly for veterans in Texas and across the country.

From quick-service restaurants to yoga studios to employment services to hair salons, this business model has become a seamless part of our everyday lives. Yet many Americans are unaware of the integral role franchising plays in our economy and in our communities. Brands such as Schlotzsky’s, Rainbow Carpet Cleaning, Jeni-King, Mr. Rooter, Sport Clips, Woodhouse Day Spas, La Quinta and many others are Texas born and bred, yet many people may not even recognize these are successful franchises operated by their friends and neighbors.

We opened the first Sport Clips Haircuts in 1993 in Austin, and in 1995 we began to franchise as the business model of expansion, and we never looked back. Today there are nearly 1,600 Sport Clips located in 50 states end five Canadian provinces, with more than 200 in Texas.

I began my career in franchising in 1979 as a franchisee myself, operating franchised hair salons throughout Texas. This experience as a franchisee helped me understand how to best start and operate a franchise to create exceptional opportunities for our franchisees. My service is an Aircraft Commander in the U.S. Air Force helped me develop the leadership skills needed to run a successful business. Leadership, team building, and the discipline of executing a proven plan of action are attributes that translate exceptionally well from the military to the business world.  Sport Clips has been actively engaged in getting our military veterans introduced to entrepreneurship through franchising… skill sets developed during military service enable our veteran franchises to excel.

More than 6,000 veterans or their spouses nationwide have become franchise business owners since 2011. This brings the total number of independent, veteran-owned franchises to more than 66,000: More than 238,000 veterans and their spouses have found jobs in franchising in the past five years alone. The franchise industry is reducing veteran unemployment and providing exceptional opportunities for veterans and their families.

Sport Clips has been recognized as a leading franchise for veterans by multiple groups and publications, including the International Franchise Association and its VetFran program. Franchise opportunities can be particularly attractive to veterans because of how this uniquely American business model works: The franchisor develops and promotes a brand concept, so franchise owners can focus on executing a proven concept, which is second nature to veterans due to their military experience. It is extremely rewarding to me as a CEO to help military veterans take advantage of the opportunities franchising has to offer. As business owners and employers, veterans understand the value of teamwork, reliability and accountability, and successful mission accomplishment.

VetFran is one of the most impactful of the IFA programs, and is a major reason why Sport Clips has been actively engaged with the International Franchise Association to launch a national “@OurFranchise” tour. By sharing our stories and communicating successes, we hope to ensure franchising  remains a robust part of local economies by highlighting the opportunities franchising offers for military veterans. Veterans tend to hire more veterans, which multiplies the employment opportunities for all veterans.

Franchising is a business model that allows veterans who have an unwavering drive to better themselves and their communities and to succeed as an entrepreneur to control their own destiny. Hundreds of thousands of Americans choose franchising to participate in entrepreneurship because of its proven blueprint for entrepreneurs who have chosen to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves.

In Texas, franchising accounts for more than 62,000 establishments, 635,000 jobs and $53 billion in economic output. These are significant numbers coming out of our great state. The undeniable success of franchising is largely due to the local, independent business owners and operators who are franchisees of established brands. Today’s franchisees are paving the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs by offering opportunity to American’s of all skill levels and circumstances. Franchising is the largest occupational training system in America, teaching critical job skills that are essential for future success.

Franchising is a model that works. It works especially well for veterans, and provides opportunities for financial independence and personal freedom essential to the economy of Texas and the nation.
Gordon Logan is the CEO and founder of Georgetown-based Sport Clips Haircuts.

One Woman’s Journey From the Marines to Franchising Stardom

IFA’s @OurFranchise spoke with Mary Thompson, CFE, to discuss how she exited the military and found her place as franchise owner and then a multi-location franchise owner, and then a franchisor president and today the COO of Dwyer Group.

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

@OurFranchise: How was the transition to civilian life and specifically franchising?

Ms. Thompson: Franchising helped me transition from the Marine Corps to being an experienced and successful business person. After leaving the service, I went directly into a sales position for my first few years as a civilian. The adjustment was difficult at times because not only was I learning a new job and new company, I was also learning how to navigate a world where healthcare, housing, and even the language of business were vastly different than the military.

My dream was to be an entrepreneur as I was driven to build and lead a team toward a common mission. While I had the financial backing to open a business, I did not have the business experience to do so. Since franchising is built on systems and processes designed to create success, it was a logical solution to my challenge. I liked the Cookies by Design business model and product. Franchising was the solution that allowed me to meet my goal and I knew with hard work I would follow the system to success. Within three years I was a multi-unit franchisee meeting my goals and fulfilling my dream of small business ownership. Franchising and the systems that it brought to me helped me as a veteran with – no business experience – to have a system to follow. It also provided me the support of the franchisor who drilled down on unit level economics helping me grow both personally and professionally faster than I would have without the systems.

@OurFranchise: What advice would you give to military veterans looking to get involved in franchising?

Ms. Thompson: Do your homework. Study the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) to understand the health of the franchisor you’re considering. Talk to at least 10 franchisees in the system to best understand what is good and bad about the organization.  If possible, talk to at least one former franchisee to know what failure looks like. First search for those franchise models with the best unit level economics to help you have the best chance to see a good return on your investment. Another top priority is knowing the culture of the franchise the veteran is considering. For veterans in particular, having a close cultural match makes a difference how well they will fit into the organization and enjoy belonging. Lastly, ask the franchisor you are considering for a list of existing veterans in the franchise on both the franchisee and franchisor level. They can help you navigate the transition and will speak your language.

@OurFranchise: You’re also involved in IFA’s initiative VetFran. Why did you join and what has your experience been like?

Ms. Thompson: A strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association, VetFran was founded in 1991 by the late Don Dwyer Sr. – founder of Dwyer Group – to say thank you to our veterans returning from the first Gulf War. It has grown into a large network of more than 650 franchise brands that voluntarily offer financial discounts, mentorship, and training for aspiring veteran franchisees and veterans seeking employment. Their most recent survey shows that 238,000 veterans and military spouses found opportunities in the franchise world since 2011.

Franchising had been so impactful to me as a veteran transitioning to the business world and I wanted to return the favor. I joined VetFran to give back and offer assistance to the service men and women returning from overseas deployments and transitioning to civilian life. They have earned the power to prosper and I believed by joining VetFran I could be part of the solution.

As chair of VetFran in 2011, in partnership with the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Franchise Association and its members launched Operation Enduring Opportunity — a franchise industry-wide effort to hire 75,000 veterans by the end of 2014, as well as to recruit and develop thousands of veterans to be franchise small business owners. We beat that goal by more than double. The programs and assistance available through VetFran make a difference for our veterans. Today I am a sitting member of the VetFran Committee to help continue the good work.

@OurFranchise: How does the Dwyer Group support veterans?

Ms. Thompson: To date, Dwyer Group of franchise companies has awarded more than $2.1 million in discounts to 374 veteran franchise owners. Our mission is simple: We strive to become the leader in franchising with transitioning military personnel and current veterans in order to help them achieve their dreams and goals by being in business for themselves.

Putting Their Trust in Veterans: CruiseOne Awards Free Franchises

Veterans Jason Bloomquist, Cory Jennings, James Selleh, Jay Starks and Chuck Wellman have won free CruiseOne/Dream Vacation franchises as part of Operation Vetrepreneur.

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

More and more American businesses are realizing that veterans are some of the most talented and sought-after employees out there, with highly transferrable skills, knowledge and discipline. Franchises are some of the leading employers of veterans, with companies like CruiseOne/Dream Vacations having over 30 percent of its units owned by veterans or active-duty spouses. CruiseOne knows a good thing when they see it, and they’ve doubled down on veterans with an annual competition that sees the five veteran winners awarded their own home franchise.

Now in its fifth year, the CruiseOne “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” just wrapped up and announced the five winners. The competition has involved more than 1,300 veteran applicants competing across all five branches of the U.S. armed services over the past five years, with winners representing the top two percent of applicants. The process is rigorous, involving the submission of a business plan, a video essay and phone interviews. The franchises awarded to the winners over the past five years are valued at more than $317,000, but CruiseOne knows that these prizes are not a giveaway but an investment.

Veterans have proven to be natural and successful franchisees, and many companies are looking to increase their share of veteran-owned units. “There are so many parallels between the military and franchising that recruiting and supporting military veterans has become a cornerstone of who we are and what we do; it is shaping the future of our organization,” said Tim Courtney, CFE, Vice President of Franchise Development and Ambassador of Veteran Affairs for CruiseOne/Dream Vacations. “We recognize that military veterans are driven by the core values and disciplines they learned in the military and it is these values and disciplines that drive them to succeed.”

This year’s winners are U.S. Air Force Veteran Jason Bloomquist of Maple Shade, N.J.; U.S. Navy Veteran Cory Jennings of Midland, Texas; Air Force Veteran James Selleh of Brentwood, Tenn.; Air Force Veteran Jay Starks of Sandy, Utah; and Air Force Veteran Chuck Wellman of Beaverton, Ore. CruiseOne/Dream Vacations hosted an awards ceremony in Fort Lauderdale attended by local business leaders and government officials, and is sending each of the winners to a weeklong training course at its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

With such a qualified field of applicants, winning a competition like this requires not just the right mind set and skills, but also a passion for the field of travel and often an equally dedicated spouse by your side, as we found out from one of this year’s winners, Cory Jennings. “My wife and I have wanted to own our own business for around the last five years and after much discussion, decided to pursue a Dream Vacations franchise. This industry combines our love of travel and the ability to create our own path. We get to flex our entrepreneurial spirit in a fun and exciting business.”

The world of franchising is full of veteran success stories, across the spectrum, with franchisors, franchisees and employees each playing a role. CruiseOne actively encourages veteran franchisees with 20 percent off the initial franchise fee and the free franchise giveaways during its annual contest highlight the company’s commitment to veterans. IFA has been a champion of bringing the talent of military veterans to the franchise community through the VetFran initiative. Now counting over 650 franchise members that voluntarily offer financial incentives and discounts to veterans, VetFran continues to bring together talent and opportunity.

Veteran Franchisee Brings His Family Into the Business

Special Forces vet Ray Omar has gone from owning one Dunkin’ Donuts to nine, and following in his dad’s footsteps, has brought his family into the business.

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

Franchisees come from all walks of life, and often times, their success is determined by the motivations, values and experiences that have shaped their life before they make the leap to becoming a small business owner. You might say some have entrepreneurship in their blood. Ray Omar, a successful Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee who is expanding from Maryland into Washington, D.C. and Tennessee was just a small kid in Queens when he started learning about entrepreneurship. Ray’s dad owned a Pop’s Fried Chicken in the Bronx and later a coffee and baked goods distribution company in Manhattan. “As a kid, I was heavily influenced and inspired by my dad, helping out where I could throughout high school and getting a first hand look at what it took to run a business,” recalls Ray. He adds that his “dad was great in that he never pressured me to join the family business, and let me pursue my own interests, which were to become a military officer.”

Ray’s journey indeed didn’t lead him directly to business and franchising, but instead to joining the U.S. army after graduating from college. Ray joined the elite 5th Special Forces Group, becoming a Signal Detachment Commander. Over his six years in the service, he acquired a skill set that not only translates well to entrepreneurship, but in fact one that Ray largely credits for his success. “I believe that veterans are uniquely qualified to become franchisees,” Ray says, explaining that the army teaches skills like leadership, responsibility, teamwork, communication and commitment to the cause. “A lot of the veterans coming out now, especially those who have seen combat are really one step ahead of their peers who don’t have that experience.”

Ray entered the world of franchising in 2008, a risky time at the height of the Great Recession. He chose Dunkin’ Donuts because it was a staple from his childhood in Queens, and the quick service industry and coffee business would lead him in his father’s footsteps. “If I was going to get into franchising, I needed to get into a brand that I really believed in and loved the product, and Dunkin’ was one of those,” adds Ray. He opened his first location at the site of a foreclosed bank in an underserved and hard-hit community in Maryland. Within six months of his opening, residents would stop in to thank him for choosing to take a chance on their community, and as business grew, other stores started opening in the shopping center and the community began to revive.

That sense of belonging to a community goes above and beyond seeing people as just potential customers, and starting his own business as a franchisee during the Great Recession really brought that home. He has seen team members stay with him through the years, starting out in entry-level jobs and now managing million-dollar locations. Every year, Ray brings together the community and the police department to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Ray has since opened three more locations in Maryland, with another two in the works. This year, he’s bringing his family-inspired entrepreneurial journey full circle, by bringing his brother Zak and sister-in-law Megan into the business. They’ll be overseeing four new locations set to open in Clarksville Tennessee, near Fort Campbell where Ray was based during his years in the army.

Ray’s success story is still being written, and going from one Dunkin’ Donuts to nine and returning to his roots by bringing his family into the business may be just the beginning. What’s clear now is that Ray’s story highlights the importance of motivations, values and experience. Ray and his brother learned the value of entrepreneurship and hard work from their small business owner dad, Ray built up a winning skill set during his years in the service, and they picked a brand they believe in. Now they’re making real differences in their communities, creating opportunities and passing on the values that underpin success in business.

Award-winner: Franchisors Understand Veterans Are a Perfect Fit

CruiseOne/Dream Vacations has awarded five free franchise locations to veterans Jason Bloomquist, Cory Jennings, James Selleh, Jay Starks and Chuck Wellman as part of its “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” program. IFA’s @OurFranchise spoke with each of the winners to find out why they decided to transition into franchising. Shown here are responses from Charles Wellman, a U.S. Air Force veteran based in Beaverton, Ore.

@OurFranchise: Why did you decide to enter the CruiseOne/Dream Vacations contest and go into franchising?

Wellman: After many years of wanting to start our own business, my wife and I began researching franchise opportunities. I found CruiseOne and researched it immensely considering my wife and I love to travel. Now that I am retired from the Air Force, working for myself would be a very rewarding career, especially when I can do something I truly love.

@OurFranchise: Do you believe military veterans and franchising is a good fit?

Wellman: Absolutely! Veterans are trained and focused on doing a great job. Veterans work well both in groups and individually. I think veterans are a match for franchising because we all have a “get it done” attitude and can get most tasks accomplished with very little to no direction. Give a veteran a task and a timeline, and it will get done to a very high standard.

@OurFranchise: What advice would you give to military veterans interested in franchising?

Wellman: Research to make sure the business is right for you and your personality, and secondly be honest with yourself before you decide to make the leap into a franchise. If you don’t feel like it’s the right fit; look for something else.

@OurFranchise: Why should franchises hire veterans?

Wellman: The real question is why wouldn’t franchises want veterans? We are hard-working, dedicated, committed individuals who signed up to put our life on the line for our country! When we believe in something and commit to it, then you cannot make a better investment!

@OurFranchise: How can franchises support veteran-franchise owners?

Wellman: Train, support and believe in them!

 

VetFran

The International Franchise Association’s VetFran initiative.  To honor those men and women who have served in the U.S. military, the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, known as “VetFran,” was developed to help them transition to civilian life. To date, over 600 franchise companies participate in the program.

Veteran Franchisee of the Week

Veteran Franchise of the Week