Tag Archives: Franchising

Transitioning from Military Service to the Work Force

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

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

By Jerrod Sessler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jerrod’s Top 10 Reasons Why Franchising Fits for Veterans

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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.

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.