How Veterans Add Diversity To A Franchise System
Hiring veterans adds experience, flexibility and workplace diversity to franchise businesses, while strengthening a sense of camaraderie.
By Tim Courtney, CFE
Franchisors with a diverse ownership are likely to own a larger consumer market share in their industry and be more successful. CruiseOne believes diverse viewpoints are essential assets and we depend on our franchisees’ broad range of talent, personalities and ideas to help us generate progress in growing our business. A key part of building a diverse franchise is to focus on and obtain military veteran franchisees.
According to the IFA’s Veterans in Franchising 2014 Progress Report, more than 203,000 military veterans, spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising since 2011. According to the same report, veteran-owned franchises employ more associates than a veteran-owned business and are 30 percent more likely to hire other veterans. This exponentially diversifies a franchise system.
Grant Springer, an Army veteran and CruiseOne franchisee based in Edgewater, Md., explained why he recruits military veterans to work as associates in his franchise. “The CruiseOne business model requires an individual who knows the importance of adhering to a schedule, consistently performs well at work, demonstrates a professional maturity, understands workplace diversity, knows that good communication is key to the success of any task and has the ability to be flexible in any situation,” he said. “Veterans exhibit a strong layer of personal integrity, ethics and standards of behavior that are a cornerstone in their lives, which creates employees with a proven track record of trustworthiness that become assets to the organizations they join after leaving military service. A veteran has been trained to work toward efficiency, ask for guidance when needed and exercise self-discipline in professional settings. I’ve had the privilege of working with this type of person on a daily basis while serving in the Army, and so hiring veterans has become a focus of mine.”
Military veterans and spouses make up 30 percent of the CruiseOne franchise system. While a majority of this number is franchise owners, many also are associates hired by non-military owners. As part of its commitment, CruiseOne offers incentives to military-veteran and non-military franchise owners who hire veterans or spouses as associates.
“Hiring veterans is one way I can give back to the community and thank them for their service to our country,” said Diane Bean, a CruiseOne franchise owner in Clayton, N.C. “I recently hired a married veteran couple who retired after 30 years in the military. Their extensive travel expertise and military contacts make them an asset to my team. As my business continues to grow, I’m committed to hiring other military veterans as associates.”
Military veterans come from different backgrounds and are used to coming together for a common goal. Using their diverse experiences, they have the ability to play a strong role in shaping key attributes that determine the future of a franchise.
A Fresh Perspective
When people think military veteran, they often think of Baby Boomers who served during the Gulf or Vietnam wars. However, the landscape is changing and in a post-9/11 world, more millennials are starting to think about their future and eventual transition back to civilian life. For example, David Frost is a 26-year-old CruiseOne franchisee and Staff Sgt. in the U.S. Air Force at Panama City Beach, Fla. “I decided to become a business owner while on active duty to both supplement my income and to grow my business so I can have a sustainable income in the event that I eventually separate from the Air Force,” he said.
The military demographic joining CruiseOne parallels the company’s civilian franchise ownership. Boomer franchise owners and military veterans are still the majority; however, the number of millennial franchise owners has increased by nearly 20 percent over the past four years, with a similar influx of younger military members who also are owners. This is important because not only will the younger ownership base have longevity in their franchise ownership and can shape the direction the franchise takes, but they are the peers of the next generation of consumers who will impact the travel industry. This is true regardless of the industry, with millennials making up 21 percent of consumer discretionary purchases.
There are many parallels between franchising and the military. One way military veteran franchise owners have influenced this link is through enhancing the sense of camaraderie among owners. In the CruiseOne franchise system, owners do not believe they are in competition with other owners, but rather a support system for each other. Franchise Owner and Air Force Veteran Cory Hardy noted: “The U.S. Air Force provided a sense of camaraderie. No matter where I was around the world, I had a supportive group of men and women that became my family,” comparing the experience to the camaraderie in the franchise industry.
Being part of a franchise means being part of something bigger than oneself where the sum is bigger than its individual parts. In order to succeed, it is necessary to rely and trust others. Military veteran franchisees recognize this importance and lead by example for other owners.
Military veterans are trained to be leaders and think on their feet. In franchising, this predisposition is an advantage and provides an opportunity to make a difference. There are multiple ways franchise owners can take on leadership roles. Whether it is joining an internal committee, mentoring new owners or advocating on behalf of franchising or another industry, military veterans are often the first to volunteer their services.
CruiseOne is committed to being “Rich in Diversity” and empowers all owners, agents and employees to reach their highest potential by leveraging their broad range of talent, experiences, personalities, viewpoints and ideas to generate business growth.
DiversityFran and VetFran are resources that provide additional information and educational tools about how to create a diverse franchise, as well as resources for prospects to educate them on the advantages of franchising and different available opportunities.
Tim Courtney, CFE, is the vice president of franchise development and ambassador of veteran affairs for CruiseOne. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org