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Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veterans a Win for All

Franchises appreciate the value of veterans’ skill sets and want them in their systems.

Service, sacrifice, dedication and honor are ingrained in the heart and soul of every service member. From their first day in military training until the day they leave the military to pursue a civilian career, members of the military understand what it takes to succeed, persevere and serve.

While most members of the military come home unscathed, some suffer injuries while in service to our country. These service-disabled veterans are often limited in job opportunities due to their injuries; however they retain highly valued skills learned from their military service such as leadership, management and attention to detail. They want to succeed, but sometimes lack adequate opportunity in the workplace due to their disabilities.

Now that the Iraq war is over and U.S. troops could be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it is imperative that when service members come home they have ample opportunities to pursue their career dreams. For franchises, these veterans hold skills that are critical to business operations – leadership, integrity and risk tolerance – all learned through military service.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has helped many service-disabled veterans start their own businesses through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (Chapter 31) for self-employment. This program helps qualified service-disabled veterans launch their businesses and mentors them until they are successful, profitable business owners. Once verified by the federal government, these veterans are officially titled Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses or SDVOSBs.

To meet the demand for additional opportunities for veterans, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-50) was designed to encourage support at a federal level to enable service-disabled veterans to start their own businesses. It provided for a minimum of 3 percent of federal expenditures to be made with SDVOSBs.

In 2003, when many warriors began returning home and starting their own firms, the government enacted the Veterans Benefit Act of 2003 which provides “set aside” or “sole source” opportunities for SDVOSBs.

The following year, the president strengthened the nation’s commitment to service-disabled veterans and issued an Executive Order requiring the federal government to also include SDVOSBs in subcontracting plans with prime contractors. Each federal agency must also report annual progress on its goals.

U.S. Small Business Administration

To help disabled veterans, the U.S. Small Business Administration launched the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative to make loans of up to $500,000 that are backed by the SBA’s maximum guarantee. These loans are available to fund businesses from startups to existing enterprises that want to grow their operations. For disabled veterans, this is the perfect opportunity to borrow the necessary funds to purchase a franchise business. Combined with reduced franchise fees and support from franchisors, this is a winning prospect for both the veteran and the franchise business.

IFA’s VetFran Program

There are generous opportunities that franchise businesses offer both individually and through the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program that provide all veterans, including SDVOSBs, opportunities to own their own businesses through franchising. While different franchises offer many choices through VetFran, it all boils down to one thing: franchise businesses appreciate the value of veterans’ skill sets and want them in their systems.

There are many franchise businesses that have taken a mentorship role with returning service-disabled veterans and have assisted them until they are successfully operating their own franchise.

With the support of organizations such as IFA, service-disabled veterans have access to franchisors, franchisees and suppliers who support their efforts to grow their businesses and are willing to give them a chance to prove themselves. In return, franchisors benefit from the service that they receive from the veterans. It is truly beneficial for everyone involved.

The Veteran-Franchisor Fit

According to the National Veteran Owned Business Association or NaVOBA, in 2007, only 10 percent of U.S. businesses included veteran-owned businesses in their procurement efforts. By 2011, that number had grown to more than 60 percent. In a 2011 SBA study, it was reported that veterans are 45 percent more likely to become entrepreneurs than persons without military backgrounds. This data shows how vital veterans and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses can be to franchisors.

Having participated in the vocational rehabilitation self-employment program and as a service-disabled veteran, I know firsthand how difficult it can be. I started as a one-person operation and through a teaming agreement with Graphic Manager powered by franchise Proforma, combined with the support of multiple franchisors that have chosen Better Deal Printing, LLC as a supplier, we have been able to consistently grow to serve all 50 states and international clients on four continents.

We have plans to hire more people in the future, especially veterans when we can. Without the support of franchise businesses giving us a chance to prove ourselves as a print supplier, and the VetFran program and IFA accepting us as a supplier, we would never have been able to achieve our success or growth. Because of the support I have received from the franchise community, I am strongly considering franchising Better Deal Printing, LLC in the future to help my fellow veterans realize their dreams too.

Understanding the critical nature of deadlines and the importance of impeccable service, excellent value and high-quality workmanship, service-disabled veterans get the job done for their clients. This could not be accomplished without the generous support of the numerous franchise businesses that provide excellent opportunities for service-disabled veterans through programs such as VetFran or supplier relationships.

U.S. Census data of 2007 (the latest available) shows that more than 9 percent of U.S. businesses, a total of 2.4 million, were owned by veterans. These businesses generated $1.2 trillion and employ 5.8 million people. Realizing this, the franchise community has responded by growing the VetFran program and each day additional franchise businesses join the initiative to provide opportunities for service-disabled veterans.

As an integral part of the U.S. economy, the franchise industry, with the support of federal government initiatives, delivers great benefits to America’s veterans, especially its wounded warriors. The opportunities franchising provides disabled veterans is not only socially responsible in giving back to those who served, but it is also a true win for everyone involved.

Lawrence Curell is president of Better Deal Printing, LLC. Curell concluded his service with the U.S. Army at the rank of corporal. He can be reached at
928-445-8363 or Larry@betterdealprinting.com.

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