Support of VetFran Should be at the Top of Everyone’s Agenda
Brave service members who made it possible for us to enjoy the American Dream deserve the tools and support to achieve that dream.
As someone who moved to this country as a child, I know from personal experience just how precious are the freedoms that allow us all to pursue the American Dream.
That is why becoming a major supporter of the International Franchise Association’s VetFran initiative and creating our own “Hero’s Welcome” program was one of the easiest business decisions I have ever made.
And it should be yours, as well.
The young men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices on a daily basis to protect our freedom and way of life. Many have been through experiences most of us will never encounter. Unfortunately, the transition from military life back to civilian life is not always an easy one.
Designed as a way to say “Thank You” for their service by creating opportunities to enter the workforce through franchising, VetFran provides benefits for both the veterans and those of us involved in the program.
Since Edible Arrangements began offering franchises over a decade ago, I have learned that if a prospect is a military veteran, chances are excellent that he or she will be successful in business.
I know from personal experience within our own system that veterans bring an exceptional level of passion and discipline to their business. Many of our most successful franchisees are veterans and I hear the same thing from other franchisors.
Of course, that really should come as no surprise.
From the first days of basic training, service members are taught discipline, leadership and adaptability. Their military training makes them goal-oriented and they are trained to organize teams to accomplish strategic objectives. They are accustomed to high-stress situations that can break a man or woman that has not been properly prepared.
These are the skill sets needed to run a successful franchise.
We have many such leaders in our system. One that stands out is Maurice Welton, who spent six years in the Army as an E5 sergeant, a cook and a food inspector. Today, he has four highly successful Edible Arrangements locations in South Texas.
He will tell you that everything he learned in the Army, from life skills and character, has helped him in the business world.
From the first days of basic training, service members are taught discipline, leadership and adaptability.
“The major emphasis was to give your all, all the time, no matter what it is that you’re doing,” said Welton. “There is no such thing as ‘mission failure’ because it’s simply not an option. So you do whatever you have to do to succeed. That expectation of success taught me fortitude and discipline and it gave me a ‘never quit’ mentality, and that kind of thinking really teaches you how to live life and run a business.”
As I considered our successful franchisees who are also veterans, it became clear that military veterans actually have a head start on the path to successful business ownership.
Running a franchise requires extreme discipline and an ability to follow systems and procedures. Veterans are comfortable doing this because following the rules in the military is a way of life. This discipline typically remains a core value throughout their civilian life. Long after their employees head out at the end of their shift, franchisees often work late into the night finishing payroll, filling orders and preparing for the next day. They do so because they know this is the price of success.
The military is a goal-oriented organization that is designed to focus on final objectives, which are always at the forefront of soldiers’ minds. Welton says that the military taught him to always set his sights two ranks higher, raising the bar and the standards for what he wanted to achieve.
“That taught me that forecasting the future is really easy if you know exactly what you want for your future, because once you’ve set your sights, you go out and make it happen,” Welton said. “You can’t be afraid of failure, you just have to go and do it.”
The military is a goal-oriented organization that is designed to focus on final objectives
Veterans also have the leadership ability to inspire employees. The military requires teamwork to accomplish missions and, in many cases, keep each other alive. The key to a successful team is strong leadership and the ability to lead by example.
“My employees and I are a team,” Welton said. ”We have to work together. If you motivate your ‘troops’ to believe in what you’ve got going on and lead by example, then they’ll rally behind you and help you get there.”
Veterans are also calm “under fire” and great at responding to unexpected challenges. It is another survival tactic learned during their service to our country and a trait that allows them to clearly evaluate what is and what is not working. This allows them to change strategy with confidence.
There are always challenges to overcome in business. I have found that veterans have an uncanny ability to adapt and move forward no matter what. They seem prepared to handle anything that is thrown at them as a business owner, no matter how high the stress level. At Edible Arrangements, that may be dealing with operational issues on Valentine’s Day, the company’s busiest day of the year, or reacting quickly when a supply shipment does not arrive on time. A veteran tends to remain calm, examine the situation and then quickly finds the best solution.
Despite having so many qualities needed to succeed in today’s business environment, military veterans still have an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of us at Edible Arrangements want to help change that statistic. So in the coming months we are launching “Hero’s Welcome.” This new initiative is designed to provide veterans with a path to franchise ownership and mentoring from other veteran franchisees once they have become part of our system. In addition, our goal is to hire at least 1,000 veterans in our locations nationwide and provide them with a path to a successful career.
Just as the brave men and women of our military have made it possible for each one of us to enjoy the American Dream, I believe it is our obligation to give them the tools and support to achieve that dream, too.
We hope others within the franchise community will join us in this effort.
Tariq Farid, CFE, is founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements International, LLC, which recently made a $125,000 contribution to the IFA’s VetFran program, and is committed to helping veterans make a smooth transition from the military back into civilian life. He can be reached at 203-774-8002.