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Finding Your Next Star

The same skills that make veterans great franchise owners also make them great franchise operators.

Most franchise businesses already know that veterans and the skill sets they gained in the military are a good fit for franchising. These businesses also know that franchising, with its successful systematic way of doing business, is a great match for veterans.

What some readers might not realize is that many franchisors, as evidenced by the hundreds on the Military Friendly Franchises list (www.militaryfriendly.com), are leveraging military talent and have recruitment programs designed specifically for veterans. The list represents the top 10 percent of the nation’s franchises that are exhibiting leading practices in recruiting and retaining returning service members as franchisees. A new trend emerging among franchises on this list is to hire veterans as operators in addition to owners.

Operators to Owners

Often, veterans become managers for franchisees. They are eager to learn the ropes, raise the capital and move up to ownership. These men and women, who are typically mission-focused, disciplined and ready to work within a business structure that uses a similar chain of command, often make ideal employees for franchisees. In fact, a recent poll found that 95 percent of franchisees surveyed believe veterans are a good fit for employment within their franchise business, according to “2012 Veterans in Franchising: A Progress Report,” prepared by Franchise Business Review for the International Franchise Association.

Many franchisors, such as McDonald’s, Snap-on Tools and 7-Eleven, recognize the potential for young veterans to become owners down the road and are recruiting them into management opportunities.

“Because we’re expanding so much, we’re looking for military personnel to apply for field consultants,” says Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, which has put programs in place to recruit military-trained employees. “The field consultant is an entry-level operations post through which new hires learn about ‘everything 7-Eleven.’ They are ultimately responsible for the profit and loss of eight to 10 stores.”

McDonald’s is another franchise that has put veterans on the fast track from operator to management to possible owner. Jorge Rosende, an Army veteran, took a job in human resources at McDonald’s when he transitioned from active duty, but quickly realized the opportunity for growth was in operations. He entered the company’s accelerated operations track and worked his way up to a field operations manager position overseeing more than 50 franchisees that own about 150 McDonald’s in the Raleigh, N.C., region.

“My military education, my civilian education and my work ethic not only helped me get into the program, but also to be successful in the program,” Rosende says.

So when you’re looking to recruit talent, consider this: there are more than 1 million highly trained military veterans returning to civilian life over the next few years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end. And they are primed to be the next stars of your franchise system.

Want Veterans? Here’s How to Find Them

Employers interested in finding military-trained employees who are natural leaders and are prepared to own franchises of their own, should follow these three steps:

1. Join VetFran

IFA’s VetFran program (www.vetfran.org) helps distribute leading practices in franchise opportunities for former military personnel through training, financial assistance and industry support. VetFran’s ranks have grown to include more than 500 franchise systems that voluntarily offer financial incentives and mentoring to prospective veteran franchise small-business owners.

2. Compete for a Military Friendly Franchises Rating

The 2013 Military Friendly Franchises list is determined through exhaustive research by the list’s team at Victory Media. The research includes a comprehensive survey of more than 4,000 franchises that is compiled then independently tested by Ernst & Young and overseen by an independent Military Friendly Franchises Advisory Board, consisting of three franchise industry experts. Get a free survey at www.militaryfriendly.com/survey.

3. Targeted Media

Today’s young, skilled veterans who served post-9/11 make up less than 1 percent of the general population. In addition, separating service members have a relocation rate of greater than 80 percent after leaving the military, according to 2012 Victory Media on-base focus groups. Statistically speaking, trying to find military franchisees locally or using only conventional recruitment media is inefficient. Including a portfolio of niche media will ensure you opportunities to reach transitioning service members when they’re still in uniform and looking for a path to civilian success as franchisees or employees.

Len Vermillion is media manager and Dan Fazio is managing editor of Victory Media Inc., which publishes G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines. Vermillion can be reached at Len@victorymediainc.com and Fazio at Dan@victorymediainc.com.

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