All posts by Radim Dragomaca

VetFran and FranFund Sponsor Bowl Game for America’s Veterans

The IFA Foundation’s VetFran Program, alongside generous support from FranFund and Steve White of PuroClean, supported the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and provided 50 veterans free tickets to the game which took place on December 22nd in Fort Worth, Texas.

“IFA is proud to sponsor active duty service members at this year’s Armed Forces Bowl game. We continue to build our VetFran program and work to open doors of opportunity and lines of communication with people and companies that can assist veterans in achieving the American dream,” said IFA President & CEO Robert Cresanti. “The IFA is honored to help in celebration of their service along with IFA members Sport Clips and FranFund at this great event.”

IFA member companies have a history of supporting this and other events that honor veterans, and this year, Sport Clips took a Hero Bus from Georgetown, TX to Fort Worth, bringing Purple Heart recipients and their spouses to the bowl where they will be recognized on the field at half time. FranFund also has a long-running history of sponsoring this event, and this year they are co-sponsoring with VetFran, raising awareness of this great opportunity among the wider IFA community. FranFund is also a long running sponsor of the game, and their collaboration with VetFran could be the start of an annual tradition for the program.

Steve White, the Vice Chair of the VetFran program, President and COO of PuroClean and army veteran, became a bronze sponsor of VetFran following the game, indicating that the program’s growth and innovation that brings worthwhile causes like the Armed Forces Bowl is worth supporting. The funds will be instrumental in making possible new initiatives like the launch of a national veteran franchisee network and a task force dedicated to military caregivers and spouses.

For more information on IFA’s VetFran program, click here.

Press Release: VetFran Partners with Defenders Gateway

WASHINGTON, July 30 – The IFA Foundation announces the start of a new partnership with Defenders Gateway, a company launching an app that will honor members of the military, first responders and families of the fallen.

Defenders Gateway is a company committed to developing the largest national network of businesses and organizations that recognize and honor the sacrifice of our nation’s Defenders by extending discounts on their products, services and opportunities. Using a proprietary app, Defenders will be verified and can then search for businesses near them that offer them a discount. The app gives added visibility to businesses that choose to honor Defenders and serves Defenders by making sure they never miss out on redeeming discounts they are entitled to.

The VetFran program has secured exclusive discounted rates for VetFran member companies and their franchisees to join this network, making it easier to gain visibility in the veteran’s community. “Too many veterans miss out on these discounts by either not knowing about them or not knowing how to claim them, and Defenders Gateway hopes to bring together Defenders and those who honor them on a single platform,” said Carol Watanabe, CEO of Defenders Gateway.

VetFran member company locations that sign up by December 31stusing the code “VetFran 2018” will receive the exclusive rate of $100 per location for 12 months. To read more about the benefits available to VetFran member locations, click here. “Franchising has always been a champion of veterans, be it as franchisees, employees or customers. Making it easier for our members to do right by veterans and keeping them informed of new platforms and opportunities is a part of our mission,” added Jeff Bevis, Chairman of the VetFran Committee.


About the IFA Foundation
Founded in 1983, the International Franchise Association (IFA) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and supported through the generous contributions of IFA members and others. The Foundation’s mission is to advance franchising and the free enterprise system by increasing the knowledge and professional standards of all members of the franchising community; educating the next generation of franchise practitioners; increasing recognition of franchising’s key role in the free enterprise system; and providing comprehensive information and research about important developments and trends in franchising.

About the International Franchise Association
Celebrating 56 years of excellence, education and advocacy, the International Franchise Association is the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising and the more than 733,000 franchise establishments that support nearly 7.6 million direct jobs, $674.3 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy and 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). IFA members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, individual franchisees and companies that support the industry in marketing, law, technology and business development.

Why the Franchise Model is Ideal for Entrepreneurial Veterans

This article was originally published on

By Monty Heath

Transitioning service members and veterans with the entrepreneurial spirit: Are you looking to place your passion, your mission focus into your own business? If so, a new mission awaits. Owning a franchise might be right for you!
The franchise model was created to help you succeed. Here’s why it may be the perfect next step in your transition.

A blueprint for success.
When we purchase into a franchise, we are effectively receiving an Operations Order (OPORD), a playbook, a blueprint for success.

As one might expect, military folks across the board have abundant experience executing orders and adhering to the playbook/blueprint, with each person pulling in the same direction.

With franchising, there is no need to recreate the wheel. There are no painful trial and error of products, and services/procedures having already been conducted –saving the franchisee blood, sweat and tears (aka time and money).

We are essentially purchasing viable and tested Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). And veterans are exceptional at executing SOPs.

Training & support you need.
Franchisors provide franchisees with support. Specifically, the critical training necessary to promote success.

This training pipeline may include computer systems, inventory topics, point of sale, payroll (PrimePay!), sales, marketing, advertising, and customer service. The type and frequency of this training will be outlined in the franchise agreement documents.

On the contrary, when an entrepreneur starts his/her own private business there is no support structure in place. There is no parent figure or organization interested in the success of the business. There is no dedicated training pipeline to access.

Becoming a franchisor provides you what you need, when you need it.

Work off a proven success record.
Franchised businesses, by their very nature, have proven past performance. The business model has shown success in one, or often numerous, market locations. There’s no wonder or worry if the product or service will be well received in the marketplace – the proof already exists.

The proof of concept, past (positive) performance, and a pathway for success exists.

To begin, here are 150 franchise opportunities that have shown consistent success and offer significant discounts and incentives to veterans.

All in all, veterans are quite possibly the perfect candidates to become successful franchise business owners. Veterans have the drive, the dedication, the mission focus to do what it takes. Incentives are available, SOPs exist, and your new mission awaits.


This article was written by Monty Heath, U.S. Navy SEAL & Director, Veterans in Business at PrimePay. Learn more about him by clicking here.

Help vets start, grow their small businesses

Originally published by Stars and Stripes on March 12th 2018.


U.S. servicemembers are among our nation’s most highly trained leaders, yet many veterans experience trouble transitioning into a post-military career. As Americans, we must ensure our veterans have the resources to find success in the private sector when they come home from serving our nation. Our service men and women upend their lives to serve our country. It is our duty to help them when they return to civilian life. Thousands of former servicemembers transition out of the military each year. It must be a national priority to provide every opportunity for veterans to succeed in whatever career path they choose.

Image courtesy of David Maiolo, © 2010.

We have both supported legislation to help veterans transition from service to civilian life, including last year’s Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This will improve and expand the GI Bill, enabling current and future veterans to pursue higher education.

For many veterans, their dream after serving is the pride and the freedom of owning their own business. Our service branches instill leadership, a strong work ethic, and a sense of duty to accomplish goals under tremendous pressures — all skills required to be successful as an entrepreneur. But for many veterans, starting a business from scratch can be daunting. It not only requires significant financial investment, but the likelihood of success can be quite steep as the owner is learning how to run a business for the first time.

Veterans programs exist to help veterans realize their dream of owning their own business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers special lending, training and contracting programs to help veterans enter the world of business and ensure their business is a success.

Another way to mitigate the risk of owning a small business is by purchasing a franchise. Franchises offer training, a business model that works, marketing support, and a supply chain already in place that makes it easier for first-time business owners to succeed — especially for veterans who are accustomed to a chain-of-command structure. There are 733,000 franchise establishments nationwide, and a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that franchise businesses owned by veterans are more successful than the average veteran-owned small business. This is a win for the veterans, and for the communities in which they create jobs and economic opportunity.

While the franchise industry offers numerous resources to help a new business owner be successful, they also charge a franchise fee in return, which adds to the already-large start-up cost of opening a new business. That is why we introduced the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act. This bipartisan legislation would help solve this problem by creating a tax credit of up to 25 percent of initial franchise fees for veterans seeking to own a franchise. It also gives the veteran the option to pass on that tax credit in exchange for a lower franchise fee.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, and they provide tremendous satisfaction to the entrepreneurs who have an idea, take a chance, and reap the rewards of calling their own shots. Small businesses know the needs of their communities best. They create jobs and support families in cities and towns across America.

We as a nation have made a promise to the heroes who put on the uniform. Small-business ownership must be accessible to all the men and women who have sacrificed on our behalf. The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act is one idea, among many, that can tear down the barriers to help veterans fulfill their dream of becoming entrepreneurs.

Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican, represents New York’s 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her son, Marine Corps Capt. Trey Cleary, recently returned from deployment in the Middle East. Rep. Julia Brownley, a Democrat, represents California’s 26th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is the ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee on health.

Article courtesy of Stars and Stripes

New VetFran Committee Chair and Vice Chair - VetFran

IFA and VetFran Members Recognized as Top Franchises for Veterans

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 – At the end of 2017, both Franchise Business Review and Entrepreneur Magazine published lists highlighting the best franchises for veterans. IFA and VetFran members dominated both lists, accounting for 84% of Franchise Business Review’s rankings and 80% of Entrepreneur Magazine’s list. “IFA is incredibly proud that so many of our members are being recognized by independent third parties for the amazing work that they do supporting veterans in this space,” said Mary Heitman, IFA Foundation President.

For this year’s Veterans in Franchising report, Franchise Business Review surveyed thousands of veteran franchise owners about their experience. The Top 100 Franchises for Veterans featured in the list received very high marks in owner satisfaction, and were highly rated by the vets that own them. 84 of those franchises were IFA members, and 63 were VetFran members.

Entrepreneur Magazine ranked the top 150 franchises for veterans. To determine the top franchises, Entrepreneur Magazine conducted a survey, taking into consideration each company’s veteran incentive, how veteran franchisees are attracted to and supported by the company, and how each company scored in the 2017 Franchise 500. Of the 150 companies recognized, 119 were IFA members, and 115 were VetFran members.

The VetFran Program was founded in 1991 and has been an industry-leading initiative which today numbers over 630 member companies, each of which offers discounts and incentives to prospective veteran franchisees. “Bringing recognition to those companies that strive for excellence in veterans recruiting and employment creates a lot of value for veteran opportunity seekers, and I’m thrilled to see so many VetFran member companies getting the recognition they deserve,” added Jeff Bevis, the incoming Chair of the VetFran Program.

Members of Congress and the IFA Unveil the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017

By Tom Williams

On November 9, the IFA hosted a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill, announcing the bipartisan Veteran Entrepreneur’s Act of 2017. Congresswomen Tenney (NY-22) and Congresswoman Brownley (CA-26) were joined by IFA’s President and CEO Robert Cresanti along with veteran franchise owners. Discussion centered around the stories of the veterans and their business endeavors, especially how the bill could help other veterans enter the workforce and reach their level of entrepreneurial success.

IFA CEO and President Robert Cresanti delivered opening remarks about the bill and franchise business opportunities available to veterans in the United States. Congresswoman Brownley then spoke about her experience with aiding veterans – including her tenure on the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and her longstanding work with Naval Base Ventura County in her Congressional district. Congresswoman Tenney conversed about her son’s service in the military and how it influenced her to sponsor this legislation. Veterans Danny Farrar, Albert Daniel, and John Stringfield discussed their business careers – both the struggles of transitioning to civilian life and then later creating successful businesses through the franchise model. There was a consensus among participants that a bill like the Veteran Entrepreneur’s Act of 2017 would have given them ample starting cash flow and a better chance to succeed in the initial crossover to civilian life. Access to capital was one of the main obstacles that all three franchise owners had encountered, and this bill seeks to give veterans a pathway to defray the initial franchise startup costs.

As thousands of veterans transition from their military service, civilian reintegration is a national priority. The Veteran Entrepreneur’s Act of 2017 would amend the tax code to allow qualifying veterans access to tax credits to establish franchises. Many veterans have years of supply chain experience and skills necessary to run a small business or franchise but lack the necessary capital to start. The bipartisan Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017 would create a tax credit of up to 25% of initial franchise fees for veteran franchisees. It is available on up to $400,000 of qualified franchise fees and the unused portion of the tax credit can be carried forward for 5 years, ensuring that veteran business owners utilize the full tax credit.

Press Release: IFA Applauds Reps. Claudia Tenney And Julia Brownley for Championing Veteran Entrepreneurs Act

Franchise businesses create a wealth of opportunity for veterans who want to open a business.

(Washington, D.C.) [November 8, 2017] – Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26) joined military veteran business owners today at a small business roundtable hosted by the International Franchise Association (IFA). At the roundtable, the Congresswomen announced their plan to introduce the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017.

“The franchise model has made owning a small business a feasible option for thousands of veterans,” said IFA President and CEO Robert Cresanti. “Of the 733,000 franchises across the country, 14 percent are veteran-owned. IFA is enthusiastic about growing this number and the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act will help to achieve this goal. We’d also like to thank Congresswoman Tenney and Congresswoman Brownley for their leadership and commitment to those who have bravely served our nation.”

The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017 would reduce the barriers of starting a business for veterans by creating a tax credit of up to 25 percent of initial fees for veteran franchisees. Additionally, the bill encourages franchisors to provide discounted start up fees for veterans in exchange for a tax credit. Lower franchise fees mean more veterans can become entrepreneurs with less capital up-front.

“With thousands of veterans transitioning out of the military annually, this bill will ease their transition to the private sector by empowering veterans to use their unique skills and expertise to open a new small business. When our veterans come home from selflessly serving our nation, they should be afforded every opportunity to use these skills to positively contribute to our local communities,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. “I’m honored to work across the aisle with my colleague Representative Brownley to help ensure our veterans have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream of owning a small business.”

Congresswoman Julie Brownley and Congresswoman Claudia Tenney have pledged to sponsor the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017.

“Veterans have served our country with honor and distinction, and it is our duty to ensure that they can thrive in a good job once they’ve transitioned back to civilian life,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “For many former service members, that means running their own small business. I am proud to co-author bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Tenney to make it easier for veterans to open their own businesses so they can have a better opportunity to support themselves and their families.”

As tens of thousands of service men and women return from overseas deployments, expanded opportunities are needed to ensure veterans and their families can transition into the civilian economy. The franchise business model provides comprehensive training opportunities, scalability, and the need for operational execution and excellence, offering an ideal career path to enable veterans to become productive participants in the U.S. economy.

In 1991 IFA founded VetFran®, a program to support veterans and their spouses’ ability to access franchise opportunities through education on the franchise industry, financial assistance, and industry mentorship. To date, over 650 franchise brands voluntarily offer financial discounts, mentorship, and training for aspiring veteran franchisees and veterans seeking employment. For more information, click here.


About the International Franchise Association
Celebrating 56 years of excellence, education and advocacy, the International Franchise Association is the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising and the more than 733,000 franchise establishments that support nearly 7.6 million direct jobs, $674.3 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy and 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). IFA members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, individual franchisees and companies that support the industry in marketing, law, technology and business development.

True North Hotel Group CEO: Veterans Need Our Support

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

Giving back to the community and helping military veterans is more than just an initiative for Lew Wiens — it’s a personal mission. IFA’s @OurFranchise highlights franchises that are making a difference in honor of Veteran’s Day on Friday, Nov. 11.

By Andrew Parker

True North Hotel Group Chairman and CEO Lewis “Lew” Wiens has transitioned from a military background with 21 years of service in the U.S. Naval Reserve, including more than four years of active service, to becoming head of a successful hotel franchise chain with close to 30 properties and 800 employees. While his life is firmly entrenched in franchising these days, Wiens hasn’t forgotten his roots as a former destroyer supply officer in Vietnam, instead turning his love for country into a large-scale effort to give back to his local community and help veterans and those in need find jobs and support.

The “Give Back” portion of True North’s website reads like a who’s who of charitable organizations that the company supports, with more than 60 charities listed, a testament to Wiens’ commitment to community service. A member of the National Board of Directors of Wounded Warriors Family Support, Wiens also serves local and international community projects, including as a member of city and country commissions, recently serving on the Board of Directors for Cross-Lines in Kansas City, Kan. and travelling to Romania with the Medical Missions Organization, helping doctors and nurses treat orphans and destitute children. His service also extends within the Marriott network as a past president of two different Marriott Franchise Owners councils.

High Five Tour

Wiens felt honored being asked to become a director a Wounded Warriors Family Support. Once on the board, he focused on one of the organization’s fundraising projects known as the “High Five Tour,” which involved a Ford-sponsored Mustang driving around the country to thank military families for the sacrifices they make, as an initiative for True North to embrace. The tour represents “a very meaningful opportunity to bring elements of lifestyle normalcy back to families of severely wounded U.S. servicemen,” Wiens explained. Each stop featured a fundraiser where sponsors could sign the car. “True North Hotel Group partnered with Marriott’s Omaha Reservation Center to secure all the rooms [for High Five Tour drivers] and paid for them with gift cards supplied by Marriott,” he said. “This year’s vehicle tour, a joint venture with the Purple Heart Association, made a stop, as it has every year, at Marriott headquarters” in Bethesda, Md., Wiens added.

Others in the True North Hotel Group family have embraced the project. “As a wounded Vietnam veteran, I know first-hand how important it is to feel supported when you’re trying to heal not just your body, but your spirit, while you’re trying to find your place back in the community,” said Tim Adams, Chief Engineer of Fairfield Inn & Suites in Leavenworth, Kan. The hotel’s General Manager, Michael Watson, added that programs like the High Five Tour “are essential reminders that freedom is not free.”
Zach Light, a Guest Service Representative at the same Leavenworth location, comes from a military family. Last year’s High Five Tour gave Light a chance to add a personal touch. “It was not only an enjoyable experience, but a heartwarming one as well, because I was able to write my recently deceased father’s name on last year’s car. He served many years as a Navy Seabee,” Light said. The Seabees is a nickname for the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions.

Dan Gudenkauf, General Manager of Residence Inn in Country Club Plaza, Kan., said that the impacts from the High Five Tour have spread throughout his team, and guests get involved as well. “A veteran who was staying with us for over six months, while going through combat-related injury rehab, happened to be a guest during our tour reception. We surprised him by adding his name to our tour welcome banner and by having him be the first person to sign the star on the car’s Purple Heart logo. We were all in tears.”

Marriott and Franchising

Wiens has also been integral to Marriott’s franchising operations. He served on The Residence Inn Association (TRIA) Board of Directors for 16 years, and Marriott asked Wiens to help found and lead the Franchise Advisory Council for its SpringHill Suites brand. He served as President of that group for 12 years and is still a member of its Board of Directors. He reflected on what it was like to launch TRIA as Marriott waded into franchising.

“For Marriott, this venture into franchising was their first,” he explained, adding that he heard rumors that the head of another large hotel chain commented to Marriott’s leadership that franchisees were a “pain in the neck.” That left the TRIA board and Marriott executives very cautious heading into discussions. “When the purchase transaction closed, there were more company-owned hotels than franchised hotels, maybe 55 percent to 45 percent, causing the board to feel like we were a minority and our voices would not be heard.”

However, that’s not how things turned out. Even with an adjustment period, Wiens said, “I was subsequently surprised by Marriott’s fair treatment and that they really were listening to our concerns.” Fast forward to the early 1990s and with a real estate downturn, Marriott started looking at other options, including owning very few corporate hotels. “Suddenly, franchising was the growth future of Marriott and franchisees owning the real estate was a safe growth strategy,” he recalls.

True North Hotel Group’s origins trace back to 1985, when Wiens and Mike Dubroff met as two of the first franchisees of what is now known as Residence Inn by Marriott, which was founded in 1975 by Jack DeBoer and Robert Brock and acquired by Marriott in 1987. Wiens and Dubroff founded True North in 1998, and have grown the operation to nearly 800 properties, including several Marriott International brands, along with other large hotel brands under the Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group brands. Wiens explains: “With experience as a real estate broker, multi-property apartment manager and former homebuilder, I stumbled onto Residence Inn in its infancy.” Residence Inn was sold to Brock Hotels, then to a joint venture between Holiday Inn and Residence Inn founder Jack DeBoer, before Marriott purchased the brand in 1987. Along with his cousin, Wiens opened the 16th Residence Inn in Overland Park, Kan., and has been involved with managing more than 50 of the brand’s hotels. Today, the Residence Inn network consists of more than 735 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Andrew Parker is IFA’s Senior Manager of Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of Franchising World magazine. Find out more about franchise opportunities at Residence Inn by visiting

US Air Force Veteran Finds Success in Franchising

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

By Andrew Parker

In honor of Veteran’s Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, @OurFranchise is highlighting former veterans-turned-franchisees who are making an impact on the community. Meet Ron Kendall, President of Buffalo Lodging Associates, a multi-unit franchisee of Marriott International and Hilton Hotels.

Ron Kendall found his path to success through the franchise business model as a multi-unit franchisee of various Marriott International and Hilton Hotels brands following a stint in the U.S. Air Force. Now the President of Canton, Mass.-based hotel and management development company Buffalo Lodging Associates, Kendall spent four years in the Air Force following high school and developed an interest in flying. After completing college and passing the written and skills tests to become an Air Force pilot, he hit a roadblock in failing the physical due to a high school football injury that never healed properly, causing concern about his ability to breathe properly with an oxygen mask.

The unfortunate break didn’t discourage Kendall, who started his franchising career at a local Holiday Inn, working as a waiter, bartender, desk agent, night manager and food/beverage manager. In the process, he gained a real interest in the hotel industry. “I enjoyed the creativity, problem solving, meeting new people and general planning that went into a successful hotel operation,” he explained. That led to a general manager position in 1978. After completing his MBA, he joined Holiday Inns, Inc. as District Director based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Three years later, Kendall was transferred to Memphis to serve as the Multi-Unit Owner Liaison and Director of the hotel’s construction and renovation department. In 1984, he became Vice President of Franchise Operations and Development in Chicago. “That position exposed me to the full panoply of skills and opportunities of the successful developers,” he recalls.

In 1987, Kendall joined Diversified Hotel Management, and after that small Boston-based hotel group was sold, he received a call about an opportunity to partner with two businessmen to establish a new hotel management company. Over the next few years, the group built and purchased four hotels. In 1995, after the sale of the three hotels under a REIT and the retirement of one of the two business partners, Kendall and his other business partner started Buffalo Lodging Associates, expanding the business from a single hotel to a current 46 hotels, primarily with the Marriott International and Hilton brands, including Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inns, Homewood Suites and TownePlace Suites.

Franchising has been a large part of Kendall’s career achievements. “I found opportunities for franchisees while I was with Holiday Inns, Inc., and I find my own opportunities now that I am on the other side of the desk,” he said. The experience and possibilities generated from the franchise business model have given Kendall the tools to succeed early in his career, and later as President of a hotel group.

‘Who is More Deserving?’

In addition to donating time and resources to local charities, helping community programs by providing rooms and equipment for town governments, local schools, fire departments and police, Kendall does his part to assist former military personnel. Buffalo Lodging Associates provides complimentary guest rooms for veterans that require hospitalization and surgery related to spinal injuries in the Buffalo, N.Y. area, part of an effort tied to the Wounded Warrior Project. He said that it’s especially important to support veterans who are truly motivated to serve their country. “It is the individuals who want to serve that I believe really deserve all the assistance we can provide them, particularly today,” he noted.

“To join the military and serve in today’s war-torn parts of the world is by all measures a courageous act,” Kendall added. “The physical, financial and emotional sacrifice is impossible to measure for veterans and their families, both during and after their service. If we do not give back to veterans, then who is more deserving?”

Andrew Parker is Editor-in-Chief of Franchising World magazine and IFA’s Senior Manager of Publishing.

Transitioning from Military Service to the Work Force

*This story originally appeared on, 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

New Franchise Funding Sources are Sprouting Online

*This story originally appeared on, 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,, 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

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, 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

Moving Left: Reaching the Veteran Before Transition

By George G. Eldridge

*This story originally appeared on, 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 or email George Eldridge at

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:


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, 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

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, 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

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, 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, 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.