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Veterans Counsel Veterans During SBA Conference in Richmond

U.S. military veterans addressed a Small Business Administration conference in October to help veterans and their spouses take steps toward successful civilian careers.

U.S. Navy veteran and PostNet franchise business owner Amanda Crow joined Outdoor Living Brands’ Franchise Recruiting Development Coordinator David Buchel, a U.S. Army veteran, for the conference.

The panel was hosted by the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, invited by SBA officials as part of Operation Enduring Opportunity.

Crow served as the only female special operations parachute rigger in the U.S. Navy for nine years. After her husband, who also served in the Navy, was killed in February 2010 while deployed at war, Crow said she was ready to do something different.

“I didn’t want to be in the Navy anymore,” she said. “And I didn’t want a 9-to-5 job where you show up and do the same thing every day.”

Crow researched franchise companies and was attracted to PostNet. “It’s a smaller franchise, which means I can reach the CEO and the leadership of the company almost any time,” she said. “We text.” With praise for PostNet and its leaders, Crow extolled the virtues of franchise ownership in general.

“This is a job where you can see the benefits of your hard work,” she said. “There are no barriers.” The 27-year-old is hoping to open a second unit in addition to her Virginia Beach, Va. location.

Buchel said his role is to help people reach their dreams through franchise ownership. The Mosquito Squad brand, in addition to Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Renew Crew have been popular with veterans, firefighters and police officers, according to the Washington Post.

Buchel is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which he served as a psychological operations specialist, part of a four-man tactical operations team to collect and disseminate information to the local populace and the enemy. “It was marketing with a gun,” he joked.

“Although I am a representative of Outdoor Living Brands, I am not here to sell you one of our four business models,” Buchel said. “My goal here today is to help fellow veterans determine if franchising is the right fit for them. Ultimately I want to help you make a decision as to whether franchising can be the vehicle that assists you in reaching your future goals, lifestyle, wealth, income, equity, professional, personal or otherwise.”

Buchel pointed to three key things veterans should keep in mind when exploring franchise opportunities.

He mentioned the Franchise Disclosure Document, of which Items 5, 6 and 7 deal focus on itemized costs associated with an investment. Item 19, Buchel said, deals with Financial Performance Representations. “There are no set rules as to what has to be in there—each franchisor will do it a little differently,” Buchel said. He recommended seeking help from experienced professionals in understanding the disclosures.

Buchel also suggested speaking with current franchisees to learn more. “What was their experience in years one, two, three?” Buchel asked. “If you talk to a few franchisees, you will start to get a good sense of what to expect.” ⎯

Beth Solomon is vice president, strategic initiatives and industry relations for the International Franchise Association.  She can be reached at 202-662-0778 or bsolomon@franchise.org.

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