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A Veteran’s Perspective on Franchising

Franchising proves that success is attainable while maintaining balance between structure, competitiveness and freedom.

Franchising can provide the perfect balance between structure, competitiveness and freedom. From a veteran’s perspective, this is an ideal balance for many of us, and our personalities combined with our training prove it.

I recently came on board as coordinator, working in research and strategic initiatives for the International Franchise Association to support the expansion of IFA’s VetFran program. This is a perfect fit since I also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than four years. While in the Marines, I was deployed to Iraq as a combat engineer.

Military training and managing the uncertainty of war are great skills to use in a life of entrepreneurism.

Six months into deployment I was injured by a roadside bomb, which amputated my left leg and nearly my right. As I lay on the desert floor gasping for air and fighting for my life, I knew this was the beginning of a long transition into an uncertain future.

This transition started with recovering at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center. My 13-month recovery involved 10 months in a wheelchair, 30 surgeries and intense anxiety of what I might face years after discharge. I needed assistance with many of the daily tasks for months after injury. Needless to say, my life presented challenges I never thought I would experience.

After sustaining such an injury and experiencing life in ways most people could never understand, I knew my transition into civilian life was not going to be easy. I began a search for answers as to where I would fit in society, but nothing seemed to fit. I was struggling to figure out how my skills would translate into a civilian career, hoping to find the right organizational culture.

Vets Big on Self Employment

Life after combat can be a confusing and frustrating time, but there can be positive outcomes. Military training and managing the uncertainty of war are great skills to use in a life of entrepreneurism. A recent study sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration found that, “In the private sector workforce, veterans are at least 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.” There are many reasons for this statistic and I will offer my perspective on a few of them.

Although the figure measures the likelihood of veteran self-employment in general, franchise systems are viewed as a satisfying career path for many veterans.

Discipline and Leadership

The operational relationship between franchises and military organizations has many parallels. The military teaches discipline, and as you achieve higher rank the expectation for leadership grows. These are two principles that the military teaches from Day One, and principles that franchisors value.

There are two primary reasons the military requires self-discipline at such a high level: the need for success in combat and maintaining structure. The last thing a non-commissioned officer wants during combat is a young private first class not following standard operating procedures.

Proven Systems

The military also depends on proven systems and operates on them continuously without deviation. This is necessary to manage a very large number of personnel and to preserve existing systems.

From a veteran’s perspective, franchising is one of the most easily translatable career choices.

Sound familiar? Of course. This method of structuring is extremely similar to the franchise method. Franchise companies have proven systems in place that are designed to preserve the brand.

Competitiveness

Competitiveness is another key factor why veterans are drawn to self-employment. Typically, the personalities of individuals who join the military are competitive by nature.
Veterans are also willing to take large risks. The culture surrounding the military is a highly competitive one. Military personnel challenge one another in every aspect of military life. This could be anything from your physical fitness test score to how many jalapenos you can handle.

This attitude does not end after military service. Many veterans want to compete in business, but are unsure which direction to pursue due to the complexities in life after military service. And, many are unsure how their strengths can be competitive advantages in civilian life.
With its inherent structure and attention to systems, franchising can provide a meaningful framework that will harness those unique strengths.

Freedom to Execute a Plan

Finally, veterans need a certain level of freedom to execute a plan. Once a veteran has learned and committed to operate a franchise system, execution comes naturally.
Military training consists of learning and then practicing fundamental principles and movements repetitively. This allows for a quick and accurate response.

The ability to execute is a talent that veterans have mastered. Franchising serves as a good source of balance. The franchisors form a support network while the already-trained veteran franchisees have the freedom to execute. That execution becomes their evaluation.

One other component of this franchise freedom is liberating oneself from extreme confinement. The rules, procedures and deployments of military service can be overwhelming. Although veterans are comfortable with systems and following orders, franchising’s flexibility provides the appropriate middle ground and the rewards are clearly evident. Veterans understand that following the franchise brand will likely result in success that they have the freedom to define.

From a veteran’s perspective, franchising is viewed as one of the most easily translatable career choices. Much of what the military teaches is founded on the premise that following orders correctly and efficiently will result in success. Franchising proves that success is attainable while maintaining balance between structure, competitiveness and freedom. n

Kevin Blanchard is coordinator, research & strategic initiatives for the International Franchise Association. He can be reached at 202-662-0789 or kblanchard@franchise.org.

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