Attracting More Veteran Franchisees
With a little extra effort, franchisors can help more veterans transition into new careers, while also helping their own businesses thrive.
With a history of supporting veteran-related causes, Home Franchise Concepts Inc. launched the Million Dollar Franchise Event on Veteran’s Day 2013, with the goal of granting 30 military veterans a total of $1,000,000 in discounts of the purchase of a Budget Blinds or Tailored Living franchise. The initiative will continue until the $1,000,000 mark is reached and all 30 veterans have received the opportunity.
Supporting U.S. veterans has been a company focus for many years; it has been recognized nationally for its advocacy of veteran-related causes. I am grateful for the opportunity to build my own American Dream because of the sacrifices made by our armed forces. Budget Blinds and Tailored Living currently have more than 30 veteran-franchisees combined, and the companies are continuing their outreach to this population of outstanding franchise business owners.
That’s exactly what I have seen in our franchisees who are military veterans because actively recruiting and assisting more of them is a winning proposition. Veterans benefit from life-changing business opportunities and franchisors help build stronger teams through the addition of more veteran-franchisees.
With the downsizing of the U.S. military and massive federal budget cuts, some experts predict that over the next few years, about 1 million veterans will be entering the civilian job market. After selflessly putting their lives in danger to protect our freedom, these men and women look to business owners to provide opportunities to achieve their own American Dream in their second careers. Beyond the opportunity to give back, franchisors should be actively recruiting veterans because these individuals model many of the personal and professional characteristics that make the most successful franchisees.
Active duty prepares veterans with the drive, initiative and integrity it takes to be successful in business. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Census and U.S. Small Business Administration found that veterans are 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no military experience.
Starting a franchise business can be a fulfilling experience for veterans. It often gives them newfound purpose and an exciting platform where they can apply their military training. It can also provide financial security for them and their families. Through their military training, veterans become masters of implementing complex systems and following standard operating procedures with precision, making them ideal candidates for running successful franchise operations.
Larry Sportello and his wife, Kathy, purchased a Budget Blinds Franchise in 2008. After a career in the Navy, Sportello saw franchise ownership as an opportunity to employ his systems-operation skills into a flexible home-based business. “I can tell you firsthand that being in the military instills valuable traits in an individual that will pay dividends during their entrepreneurial pursuits,” Sportello said.
There are financial resources available to veterans to help start a business. Some of these resources are in the form of loans, while others are incentivized early separation payments that can provide the capital needed for new business ventures. Voluntary separation pay, announced by some of the services late last year, offers targeted incentives to active duty personnel in overpopulated ranks and positions to leave their military careers for other opportunities. The pay is based on each individual’s rank and length of service. But for some, this cash can help provide the necessary financial means to start their own businesses.
Reaching this audience of veteran entrepreneurs takes a commitment and highly targeted effort. Here are some steps that franchisors may take to effectively increase their outreach to veterans.
Partner With Veterans Advocates
A handful of excellent organizations are dedicated to helping veterans find the resources they need to begin a career after service to their country. These organizations often host job fairs and provide other opportunities to connect with potential veteran entrepreneurs. The International Franchise Association’s VetFran program is an ideal resource for franchisors, offering recruitment tools and targeted outreach to veterans seeking franchise opportunities. Hiring our Heroes, an organization of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is another active organization that hosts local events to bring businesses and veteran career-seekers together. Most organizations also manage an online presence with current information, whether through e-news, print or online publications, that may provide an ideal platform for promoting your business opportunities.
Seek the Advice of a Professional Consultant
Attracting the right military veterans to your business can be a time-intensive process. Navigating military terminology and the job skills that translate into the best fit for a franchise owner is sometimes best left to a professional. Seek the advice of an experienced consultant dedicated to helping businesses connect with veteran-friendly franchises. Companies such as The Value of a Veteran offer customized strategies for franchisors to reach and attract a population of qualified veteran entrepreneurs. Some educational resources are available online or through webinars. Simple updates to your franchisee recruitment web page may increase traction with the veterans’ population. A slight change in your overall marketing strategy may help tailor your voice to catch the attention of veterans. Consultants can also help identify opportunities to reach veterans through the military resources provided to service members in transition.
Provide an Incentive
Military pay often does not afford service members the opportunity to build generous capital. Consider offering a generous discount of franchise fees. Remember that an incentive is only as great as the exposure it receives. Advertise your veterans discount through established veteran-advocate partnerships.
Offer Guidance and a Team of Resources
There is nothing like the experience of serving your country, and many veterans find comfort and camaraderie in working with other military veterans. Consider creating a mentor program where experienced veteran-franchisors are paired with new veteran-franchisors for guidance and support beyond the depth of support from the corporation. Mentoring enhances the sense of team, while offering a familiar and highly personalized support system for those who are just getting their business established.
It is important to understand that many veteran-franchisees will also depend on the support of a spouse. Throughout their military careers, veterans’ spouses play an invaluable role in organizing family finances, coordinating household moves and maintaining a sense of balance in the often-unpredictable existence of military life. A spouse will often continue to play a major role in the franchise business as an active partner in a home office − managing the finances, organizing paperwork and answering phones − while the spouse is making sales consultations.
Building opportunities for more U.S. military veterans is the least we can do to honor the sacrifices they have each made for protecting and serving our great country. Franchisors are gaining much more than press coverage for their efforts and incentives to recruit more veterans. They are gaining highly trained and disciplined individuals with team-oriented attitudes and the determination necessary to execute an effective business model. With a little extra effort, franchisors can help more veterans transition into a new career, while also helping their own businesses thrive.
Chad Hallock is the CEO and founder of Home Franchise Concepts, parent of home improvement brands Budget Blinds and Tailored Living. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.