The pursuit of a fulfilling career in a veteran’s post-military life does not have to be an uphill battle. There are many other resources and mentors to help veterans better define their careers and support them in their path forward.
*This story originally appeared on www.atourfranchise.org, a website highlighting the positive impact of franchising on communities around the country.
By Tim Davis, CFE
For many veterans, determining a career path after their time in the military is an important step as they ease back into civilian life. They’ve served their country, defined their skills and have many accomplishments to celebrate, but it’s not always clear how this can translate into business experience.
As a veteran myself, I know the challenges that face servicemen and women when they return home. And through my experience at The UPS Store, I’ve seen firsthand how franchising can be a natural career choice for veterans. They’re able to apply valuable military skills and experiences to become successful franchise owners.
In fact, in a recent survey conducted by The UPS Store, 63 percent of service members who envisioned a second career as small-business owners considered owning a franchise and 54 percent said they feel confident that the skills they gained while in the military will help them succeed in the civilian world.
Wanted: Honest work that reflects values
John Bareswill is one such franchisee who has found success in his second career. He spent more than 24 years in the U.S. Navy as a signalman, a sailor who specializes in visual communication. When searching for a post-military career, he decided he wanted to work for himself and started looking into franchise opportunities. He wanted a company that allowed him to do honest work and reflected his values. Bareswill now owns and operates a The UPS Store in Virginia Beach, Va.
As a military town, Virginia Beach gives Bareswill the opportunity to stay connected with and serve veteran and active-duty customers. He credits his time in the Navy with teaching him communication and leadership skills, which are crucial to the success of this business. Not only are his military skills transferrable, they’re valued in the franchising world. But, what ultimately attracted him to franchising was the community of franchisees who work together and help each other learn and grow.
“We all want to be successful, but as I learned in the military, it takes a good team and a support network to do well with any mission,” Bareswill noted. “I want to be able to say I did my best to make my own business successful while helping my fellow franchisees, many of whom are veterans like me. And The UPS Store franchise system allows me to do just that.”
Same language, same points of view
George Berkley is another such example. After being drafted during college and serving on nuclear submarines, Berkley began his second career as a UPS Store franchisee in South Orange, N.J. In his day-to-day operations, he draws on the self-confidence, organizational skills and structure he learned in the U.S. Navy to serve his customers.
“Customers come into the store with problems and we can solve them because of forethought and preparation,” said Berkley.
Berkley believes that veterans make great business owners. He is always on the lookout for opportunities to support other veterans and helps train other veteran UPS Store owners. He finds it easy to connect with other veterans because they communicate in the same way.
“We talk the same language and we look at things the same way,” Berkley explained.
Military skills are valuable tools in franchises
Bareswill and Berkley are outstanding examples, but there are many other veterans who hone similar skills, values and experiences that make them good business owners. For veterans who are considering franchising as a post-military career, there are several ways that their military skills can be valuable tools as they embark on this new journey:
- The military culture encourages taking initiative and leadership. Being a successful franchisee requires leadership, too. Veterans are well equipped to be leaders and set expectations for their business with themselves and employees.
- Ability to follow procedures. Veterans understand that having a clear plan is the key to achieving success. The franchise system equips franchisees with training to run their businesses efficiently and effectively, which is beneficial because 68 percent of service members who participated in the survey felt that training would help them overcome their concerns about transitioning to the civilian workforce. The training and support provided by franchise systems are critical components in equipping franchisees for success.
- Being in the military requires the drive to work hard. It’s no surprise that being a franchisee requires the same sort of dedication. Fortunately, the franchise system has the benefit of a network of support and training to make things easier for the new franchisee.
- Ability to work under pressure. Being a franchise owner is a lot of responsibility for one person, but that’s nothing new for veterans. The ability to keep calm and work under pressure is something that military service members are well equipped to do. Fortunately, being part of a franchise also offers support when needed.
Franchise opportunities allow veterans to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. They are supported by the many tools and resources provided by the company and other franchisees. Since 2004, The UPS Store has awarded more than 150 franchises to first-time veteran buyers through the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran) program, a cooperation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Corporation, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. At The UPS Store, all qualifying veterans receive $10,000 off the franchise fee for a new location and 50 percent off the initial application fee.
The pursuit of a fulfilling career in a veteran’s post-military life does not have to be an uphill battle. Outside of The UPS Store, there are many other resources and mentors to help veterans better define their careers and support them in their path forward. They are encouraged to tap into these opportunities and be confident that they have the skills and experience to find a rewarding career.
Tim Davis, CFE, is president of The UPS Store, Inc. and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.