Military veterans are instrumental to franchising. They have helped hundreds of franchise concepts grow their footprint. A big reason for this is that veterans know what it takes to follow processes and how to execute day in and day out.
Our franchise, along with so many fellow franchisors, strives to create an environment where veterans are welcomed and can thrive. Here are the lessons we have learned for creating an environment conducive to military veterans.
1. Offer veterans an incentive to join your franchise
Many franchises have created specific incentives to entice veterans to join their franchise family. The most common of these are discounts off the typical franchise fee, which can save a veteran thousands of dollars in upfront costs associated with purchasing a franchise.
Other systems might offer special access to financing options to veterans or provide lower interest loans for veterans who wish to finance some or all of their initial fees.
Incentives like franchise fee discounts will appear in your Franchise Disclosure Document, but highlight them elsewhere; on your website, in brochures, franchise advertising websites and other public areas. It gives a strong baseline for military veterans looking at different franchises and it has the added benefit of showing all your prospects the value you put on military service.
2. Get involved with organizations who are helping veterans advance professionally
There are many groups who work closely with the veteran community and franchises. Perhaps the most well known in the franchise space is the International Franchise Association’s VetFran, a group that advocates for military veterans in franchising. But there are plenty of other groups, including Boots to Business, an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Other resources, like the U.S. Department of Defense’s Military OneSource Network, find programs that hire veterans as well. This can be a useful inroad to connect with veterans who could be great employees or future franchise owners.
The key is to make yourself available on a broad number of veteran networks, particularly those connecting veterans with business ownership or employment opportunities.
3. Share the stories of your military veterans
Take pride in the veterans in your system — it is a great way to both attract and retain veterans. As an example, we highlighted the story of one of our recent franchisees through an article on our site highlighting his successes in the Air Force. Make it your headline to honor these heroes. Our article, “U.S. Air Force Veteran Finds New Business Opportunity with Fibrenew,” promoted the story of David Underwood in North Carolina, who retired from the Air Force and decided to take his skills and operate one of our franchises in his home state to be closer to family.
Showing current military veteran owners and prospects that you care about their story and that their experiences are of value to your franchise community can go a long way in making them feel welcomed.
4. Build a welcoming community that invites them to the table
Which brings us to our last point, probably the most important point of all. Your franchise needs to build a welcoming community for veterans. They need to be given the tools and resources that help them flourish. They need to have a voice in your meetings and conferences. They are an integral part of your franchise and the growth of your system. We have found that veterans can be some of your biggest cheerleaders for the brand, but only if your environment sets them up for success.
Perhaps it means connecting a veteran who has been in your system for ten years as a mentor for a new veteran just starting his or her franchise. Or, maybe it means setting up a committee to work on how to attract and retain veterans and including current franchisees in those meetings to share their ideas.
This is just a place to start. Ultimately, your franchise needs to invest in the long-term to be a veteran-focused franchise. It takes time, but it is well worth it.
Jesse Johnstone is the president of Fibrenew, a completely mobile concept to repair, restore and renew damaged leather, plastic, vinyl, fabric, and upholstery. With more than 250 franchises across the U.S. and Canada, Fibrenew saves customers time and money by offering an alternative to replacement. On-site service is super-convenient and way more economical than having to buy new. As an added benefit, Fibrenew is an eco-friendly business, helping prevent thousands of items from ending up in landfills each year.