As thousands of active duty men and women return to civilian life, wondering what they should do next, many franchisors are extending a warm welcome to them. The result is that one in seven franchises is owned by a veteran according to the International Franchise Association (IFA). In the last three years alone, more than 5,000 veterans have become franchise business owners.
Why the effort to bring veterans into franchising? The answer is two-fold, franchisers tell us; they want to give back to vets and they see a real synergy between the skillset required for the military and the skills necessary to succeed in franchising.
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Military experience, in addition to fostering traits including integrity, honor, and commitment, imparts many skills that successful franchise owners share including:
- Appreciation of Systems: Owning a franchise comes with training, a plan and a support system. The most successful franchisees are those that follow the guidelines set by the franchisor and take advantage of the resources and support available to them. Veterans understand that having and following a plan is crucial for success.
- Leadership: Veterans are leaders who understand the importance of teamwork. They ensure the whole team is working, solving challenges and moving ahead. They know how to delegate, stay organized, work with a variety of people and function under pressure.
- Dedication and Perseverance: Running a business is never easy. For veterans, hard work and commitment are second nature.
- Believe in Support Networks: Veterans can successful apply their ability to trust and rely on their fellow personnel, to leaning on franchisors, fellow franchisees, employees, and others to strengthen their business.
In order to encourage veterans to enter franchising, the franchise industry is providing them with a variety of special incentives and support. Some veterans can receive discounts on franchise fees through VetFran, an IFA initiative consisting of a network of 645 franchises, which also offers mentorship and training for veterans interested in franchising. Franchise Business Review’s free annual Top Franchises for Veterans research reports feature in-depth information about what it is like for veterans in franchising and which systems have the most satisfied veteran franchisees. The non-profit SCORE Association also has programs to assist veterans who are aspiring franchise owners.
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These special discounts and support are necessary when one considers that the median investment level in a franchise is just over $100,000 before any special discounts. There are, however, many affordable options with start up costs of less than $35,000 such as Snap-on-Tools, Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning, Soccer Shots and CruiseOne.
There may be more even more financial assistance for veterans entering franchising in the near future. The Help Veterans Own Franchises Act, which would provide a tax credit for franchisors that offer a discounted initial franchisee fee for veterans as well as a tax credit for the veterans who purchase these franchises, has been introduced to Congress. It currently has over 40 cosponsors.
Franchisees with military experience, just like those without it, are not guaranteed success. They may, however, have more characteristics for success than non-veterans because of their familiarity and comfort with systems, teamwork, and following a step-by-step protocol. I expect to see veterans increasingly contributing to the continuing growth of the franchise sector.