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Veterans in Franchising: How Multi-Unit Franchisees Can Seize the Opportunity

Multi-unit franchisees looking for dependable, disciplined and hard-working employees should consider veterans.

135787283-320There continues to be a growing focus on military veterans in franchising as more legislators learn about the opportunities franchising can provide for them. In November 2013 and February 2012, both Jim Amos Jr., CFE, Planet Smoothie/Tasti-D-Lite chairman and I testified during congressional subcommittee hearings seeking knowledge on innovative approaches to jobs and employment for our veterans. U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee member Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and subcommittee members shared at the hearing that they are seeking “feet on the street” real-world solutions such as those being provided by companies like The Dwyer Group, WIN Home Inspections, Sport Clips, as well as many other franchisor-members of the International Franchise Association.

During the November hearing, I shared that the IFA and its members have long supported the efforts of these subcommittees and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. For several years, the IFA has maintained an ongoing dialogue with VA’s Center for Veteran Enterprise, seeking ways to improve program outreach to transitioning veterans. Like many VetFran members, The Dwyer Group family of service enterprises is fully committed to providing both opportunities for franchise ownership, as well as employment for former military personnel. Today, our company represents more than 1,600 franchisees worldwide employing thousands of veterans, as well as bringing more than 300 veterans into small-business ownership.

VetFran’s Origin

Offering opportunities to our veterans who have faithfully served our country has been an IFA and The Dwyer Group initiative since 1991. Since that time, VetFran has grown into a strong and well-regarded brand name on veteran entrepreneurship and employment opportunities throughout our nation. As the largest and oldest franchise trade group, the IFA’s mission is to safeguard the business environment for franchising worldwide. IFA protects, enhances and promotes franchising by advancing the values of integrity, respect, trust, commitment to excellence and diversity. VetFran is one of the tools to help us show that mission in real terms.

Watching the events of the Gulf War unfold in 1990, Don Dwyer Sr., the president and founder of my parent company, The Dwyer Group, decided he had to do more for our servicemen and women. He considered the traditional ways of support, but saw nothing that captured the spirit on the scale he envisioned. A short time later, while attending the IFA’s 1991 annual convention, he conceived the ideal solution: help our veterans achieve the American Dream by owning their own franchise small business.

Just before Veterans Day in 1991, the program was officially launched during a press conference in Washington, D.C. and soon, more than 100 franchise systems were participating as partners in the effort, providing financial incentives for honorably-discharged veterans. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the VetFran initiative was re-energized by Dina Dwyer Owens, CFE, then the CEO and chairwoman of The Dwyer Group (now executive chairwoman). It now boasts more than 620 franchise systems participating by offering veterans discounts, incentives to help them in small-business ownership and connecting them to jobs throughout the United States.

Answering the Administration’s Call

In November 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama partnered with the IFA to launch Operation Enduring Opportunity. She was looking to the business community to help hire and recruit 100,000 veterans as business owners and team members by 2014. Our franchise community pledged to hire 80,000 veterans. To date, 151,557 veterans and military spouses have been hired through franchising these past two years.
According to a 2012 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, there are more than 820,000 franchise establishments in the United States responsible for creating more than 17 million American jobs and generating $2.1 trillion in economic output. Franchising operates in a variety of industries; including automotive, commercial and residential services, restaurants, lodging, real estate and business and personal services. One-out-of-every-eight private, non-farm jobs in the United States comes from franchising. Combine those facts with the 200,000 plus veterans transitioning out of the military each year and we have a real recipe for success.

As a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, I can attest to the fact that members of our armed forces are disciplined, hard-working, passionate people who have an ingrained trait to work within systems. They are accustomed to following standard operating procedures, which are very similar to franchising which uses manuals, systems and procedures to maintain the integrity of the brand. That is the main reason why former members of the military make excellent candidates for franchise ownership as well as outstanding employees.

It is estimated that during the next five years more than a million servicemen and women will transition out of the military. With the diversity of jobs in the military, veterans re-enter civilian life with the skills needed to succeed in franchising whether it’s as a small-business owner or an employee of a franchisee. Their Military Occupation Specialty, which is the military’s way to identify an individual’s particular specialty, can help our returning servicemen and women identify the best franchise system that meets their skills and training.

Multi-Unit Franchisee Recruiting Tools

Multi-unit franchisees looking for dependable, disciplined and hard-working employees should consider veterans. As Greg Tanner, national director – franchising, Aaron’s Sales & Leasing says, “Who else can put on their resume that they were willing to take a bullet for their former employer. Now that is commitment.” There are many avenues for finding and recruiting veterans into your organization. A couple of tools you may want to consider using are on-the-job apprenticeship training programs and veteran job-matching sites.

On-the-job and apprenticeship training programs are available for veterans using their VA education benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These programs allow veterans to learn a trade or skill through training on the job participation rather than attending formal classroom instruction. A veteran generally enters into a training contract for a specific period with an employer or union, and at the end of the training period, the veteran gains job certification.

Mary Kennedy Thompson, CFE, is executive vice president of The Dwyer Group, president of Mr. Rooter and past chairwoman of the IFA VetFran Committee.

Mary Kennedy Thompson, CFE, is executive vice president of The Dwyer Group, president of Mr. Rooter and past chairwoman of the IFA VetFran Committee.

State approving agencies are responsible for approving OJT/apprenticeship programs in their respective states. Requirements generally entail submitting a training request form that specifically outlines the proposed program, wages and standard workweek information, as well as the company contact name and phone number. Once all required documents are submitted, approval is generally completed in one to two months. For more information about OJT & apprenticeship programs, and how to apply, visit’s resources and education section.

You can look for veterans on the site that matches veterans to businesses looking for trained talent. On this site veterans can put in their MOS and have it translated to civilian job skills to help match them up to your specific hiring needs. You can post job opportunities on the site at no charge and receive emails when there is a match. also is a robust site in matching veterans to opportunities and employment. It has been helping veterans for 16 years and was the recent winner of the Lee Anderson Small Business Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award.

Our veterans deserve this chance after so faithfully serving our county. IFA and VetFran are engaged with our veteran’s communities to offer opportunities in as many ways as possible. Franchising is good for veterans and veterans are good for franchising. Let’s make today the day we help one more veteran find the opportunity and employment they so richly deserve.

Mary Kennedy Thompson, CFE, is executive vice president of The Dwyer Group, president of Mr. Rooter and past chairwoman of the IFA VetFran Committee.

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