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Bringing Military Veterans Into Your Franchise

Always make sure veterans know what is being asked of them and what your franchise business will do for them in return.

WIN Home Inspection has always focused on recruiting quality people with drive, discipline and a passion for owning their own business. Blending veterans with franchising is a natural fit, where a proven plan is connected with a proven person, and the end result is success.
In early 2011, the company reviewed success profiles of our strategic partners or franchisees and observed that the core of our network was largely made up of military veterans.

Ultimately, growth and brand integrity depend on broad scale quality execution, and for WIN Home Inspection, our veterans were already a key factor in our success. With that foundation, we began shaping a veterans’ awards program and readied our system for launch on Veterans Day 2011.

With three levels of award credits of 100, 50 and 10 percent of the license fee, WIN committed $1.2 million dollars in license fee support for its WIN for America program. Equally important, the company committed substantial staff and franchisee network time to assist candidates in their diligence to explore and understand our business model. With all eyes focused on helping veterans in their transition to private life, and to do so as a business owner, the franchise found broad support among our franchisees.

From there, to better immerse ourselves within the veterans’ space, we joined the International Franchise Association’s VetFran effort. This group of franchisors and suppliers has long-standing experience in helping veterans become business owners. Our knowledge exchange with VetFran members has helped refine our program, and at the same time enabled us to share our learning with other franchisors and veteran-friendly organizations.

Provide straight talk and a fair deal.

The training and skills veterans learn during their military service are aligned with those necessary to successfully own and operate a business. By recruiting veterans to join our team, the relationship is mutually beneficial – it brings capable and committed people to our brand, and our brand serves as a stepping-stone to their future of business ownership.
This is considered as a stewardship responsibility on our part to ensure that the veteran comes in with eyes wide open, can make an informed decision and considers how the WIN brand fits into his or her future.

Experience has shown certain things that are true and good in assisting veterans. These include:

1. Provide straight talk and a fair deal. While this is true in all business matters, it resonates very strongly with veterans. It’s “how they roll,” and their appreciation for no nonsense and forthcoming communication makes for highly efficient exchanges.

2. Clarify “the ask” and clarify “the do.” Always make sure veterans know what is being asked of them and what your franchise business will do in return for them. Lay out the path so there are no surprises, and invite clarification at every step of the process.

3. Homework rules. It is very helpful and important to have a homework process in place as a requirement of the program. It takes four to six weeks to complete our homework process and it’s extremely beneficial to the candidates to help them self-assess just how serious they are about the opportunity. Within the process, candidates have the chance to really educate themselves about the business.

4. Conduct weekly accountability calls with the candidate during the homework process. This helps the franchise development team confirm the candidate’s learning and interest, and ensures the candidate has full access to helpful information.

5. Encourage candidates to connect with current franchisees. Identify a network of current franchisees who are willing to spend quality time with candidates. Encourage your candidates to talk frankly, ask direct questions and seek out a “ground level” view of the business.

6. Be there for the candidate. With a veteran just out of service and coming into the private sector, there will likely be some coaching and counseling needed just to help him to adjust to everyday society. Be open and honest, and commit to establishing an accessible relationship to truly help in the transition.

7. You aren’t DAD. The brand and operating system will provide a plan for success, but the franchisor can’t provide drive, ambition and dreams; that has to come from the candidate. Look for serious engagement and hustle from a candidate, and avoid trying to create or instill it. Candidates need to decide for themselves that they want to own their own business; it has to be fueled by their passion.

There is a natural alignment with veterans and many franchise brands. Good brands succeed based on a customer experience vision and an operating plan to deliver it. Veterans acutely understand the need for a plan, how to successfully execute one, and how to adapt and overcome when faced with obstacles.

When franchise businesses serve as a gateway for veterans to become business owners, the American Dream becomes a reality: the opportunity to own a business, and the chance to serve customers in the course of business ownership. Our company and other franchise businesses are privileged to assist veterans as they pursue the freedom of business ownership, made possible by their service to protect freedom for us all.

Steve Wadlington is president of WIN Home Inspection, serving in that position since 2007. He can be reached at 256-850-7034 or swadlington@wini.com.

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