Why would franchise owners make a conscious effort to align their company cultures and operations with key traits military veterans look for in business opportunities?
It’s simple: Veterans bring experience that translates extremely well to franchise ownership. Owning a franchise requires dedication and dogmatic execution of the system, the ability to lead and motivate a team, grit, and perseverance — the same qualities one needs to excel in the military.
By leveraging the strengths and talent of amazing men and women from the U.S. Armed Forces, my company has grown to more than 100 franchises and 1,500 employees in record time. In fact, when surveyed about the top qualities they feel they bring to the workforce, service members cited leadership, a strong work ethic, and the ability to work under pressure as part of a team.
Recognize those? They are the primary hallmarks of a successful franchise owner.
Cultivating an Environment Where Heroes Feel at Ease
To successfully recruit talented military veterans as owners and team members, we work hard to create a culture that satisfies their innate drives to help others, appeals to their operational comfort zones, and leverages their special training.
To do the same, franchisors should foster these three traits within their companies:
1. Operate from core values and a sense of purpose. Having a clear set of core values and a purpose that encompasses more than simply making a profit is important to military veterans. After all, their work experience is grounded in being part of something much bigger than themselves.
“I’ve experienced working with companies that don’t have a purpose, and they usually dissolve,” says Carl Carter, a former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and one of our College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise owners.
Our company motto, “Move the World,” is one of the biggest reasons we’ve attracted so many former members of the military as both owners and employees. They want to make both a positive impact on the world and a difference in their local communities.
For Carter, this allows him to pursue his commitment to mentor younger employees and set them up for success: “My business card title isn’t owner — it’s head coach. I want to be more than just an owner.”
2. Strive to support and maintain a winning system. The military is probably the most systemized organization on the planet; every job function has a specific set of rules and guidelines.
We emulate this structure by ensuring that each of our business functions follows a standard operating procedure. We believe “people don’t fail; systems do” — so our goal is to ensure that our franchise owners and executives can work on the business, not in it.
By continually reviewing the system, seeking ways to improve it, we allow our owners and managers to focus on value-driving activities.
3. Foster a culture of accountability and trust. For us, the most critical step to becoming a healthy organization — across all lines, not just the bottom line — was creating a cohesive leadership team.
Our leadership strives to give all employees a personal sense of responsibility and pride in the company’s success.
For example, our drivers are expected to run their moving trucks as their own small businesses. They’re responsible for their own marketing, sales, and profits, with no top-down office hierarchy. Without an aligned team at the top focusing on accountability and results, we couldn’t afford employees such autonomy — or reach our full potential.
Purpose-Driven Businesses See Exponential Growth
Since incorporating these traits into our business to appeal to skilled leaders, we’ve seen the results implied by a recent study linking military service to successful entrepreneurship.
We attract franchisees and team members with characteristics consistent with entrepreneurial A-players: high-achieving, trustworthy people with independent streaks and the ability to make sound decisions in a pinch. Military veterans take ownership of their respective business areas and, in turn, recruit and empower others of similar caliber.
By continuing to encourage this self-sustaining cycle of success, we’ll not only keep our organization healthy and our workforce motivated, but we’ll also create what all franchisors seek: the necessary conditions for a world-class organization to emerge.
Omar Soliman is the co-founder and CEO of College Hunks Hauling Junk and Trash Butler. CHHJ, named one of the fastest-growing franchises in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine, is a junk-removal and moving franchise that services over 50 markets in 30 states, and Trash Butler is a door-to-door valet trash service. As an author and TV personality, Omar has appeared on FOX Business News, MSNBC, ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and AMC’s “The Pitch.”