Flying across the country recently, the founder of FranChoice was seated next to a soldier. This young man was on the last leg of his trip home on leave from a year-long deployment. They spent about three hours in conversation during the flight. Their talk provided our founder with a useful reminder of the reasons military veterans make great franchisees.
Veterans Make Great Franchisees: Similarities
Thought the solider seemed young, he was in fact a sergeant eight months into his third overseas deployment. As he spoke about his experiences in the Army, his maturity, confidence, and composure was clear. Though only 26 years old, he effectively commanded a platoon of 36 soldiers. On a day-to-day basis, he organized and oversaw their activities. In that way his experience was not unlike that of a business leader managing a group of employees.
Certainly the stakes involved in the soldier’s work were higher. He faced the pressure of keeping his platoon alive, while a businessperson may primarily be concerned with the state of the economy and his company’s revenues. Still, the solider had a sense of humor as he told of his experiences managing his soldiers. And they were stories that any employer would easily identify with, especially those with teen and/or millennial employees.
Veterans Make Great Franchisees: Veteran Support Programs
Recognizing these similarities and the suitability of franchising as a career for veterans, the franchise industry has program called VetFran. VetFran provides financial assistance to honorably discharged veterans who would like to start a franchise business. It offers them discounts on fees as a way of thanking them for their service. More than 650 franchise companies participate in the VetFran program. It has assisted thousands of veterans in transitioning from military service to business ownership.
Interestingly, many VetFran member companies have evolved their focus. While at first these companies were simply striving to thank veterans, many of them now actively recruit veterans as part of their long-term plans for growth. They have learned that former military personnel often make great franchisees. The military provides officers and non-coms with formal training and valuable experience in key business areas such as leadership, planning, and following a proven system to produce strong results. Soldiers are disciplined, they value teamwork and loyalty, and they are dependable. All of these characteristics are desirable in the search for franchisees.
Franchise companies have had tremendous success with ex-military leaders as new franchisees and they want more. In the case of the sergeant on the plane, a friend had recently contacted him about a new veteran support program offered by his employer. That company’s program would not only discount the franchise fees, but would also offer direct financing for most business startup expenses (for approved candidates).
While that particular program is more aggressive than most in terms of actively recruiting veterans, it’s known throughout franchising that former military leaders are a treasured source of new franchisee prospects. And as an increasing number of franchise companies design assistance programs to attract them, it’s a win-win in the franchise industry.