Tag Archives: Air Force

Moving Left: Reaching the Veteran Before Transition

By George G. Eldridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Michael Haith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Heroes Among Us: The Quiet Success of Veterans In Franchising

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

By Eric Stites, CFE

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

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

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

 

Steve Carey: Air Force Veteran and CertaPro Painters Franchisee 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Josh Lien: Army Veteran and Mosquito Joe franchisee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Eric Stewart: Army Veteran and Window Genie Franchisee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Parker: Air Force Veteran and Sport Clips Franchisee 

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

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

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

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

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

thinking about it.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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