How a 26-Year Navy Vet Became Rookie Franchisee of the Year

Hearing my name called for Rookie Franchisee of the Year solidified my decision in selecting the right franchise. I wanted to join a franchise concept where I could work with my hands, but I searched for the right fit for two years knowing I needed to find the right business plan and have a strong belief in the franchise organization to commit. I found my success in the military through hard work and structure and I was looking to replicate that success in my professional career.

During my 26-year career with the Navy, I accumulated a variety of experiences and titles, but mainly trained as a nuclear submarine mechanic. Perfectly aligned with my interests in building and fixing, the military training I received allowed me to quickly develop additional skills. In the military, you receive a blueprint to success, but having a passion for what you do is what keeps you motivated to deliver superior results. This combination of support and passion is something all entrepreneurs pursuing franchising should consider – what interests you and what support does the franchise system provide?

The military operates like a successful business. You have one person stating the mission and the soldiers executing the orders. A good business structure has a plan in place for any situation, just like the military. In a franchise model, the franchisor has taken the time and gone through trial and error to find the best possible business plan for any situation. Once the strategies are in place, it’s up to the franchisee to execute. No different than when a soldier follows orders.

The military also greatly prepares business owners for a crisis. In business, things don’t always run smoothly, but you have to be prepared for the worst case scenario with a contingency plan in place. When something goes awry in the customer service industry, you need to assess the situation and make a decision quickly. The military helps you master that. You train and prepare for things to go wrong and it has proven to be such a valuable lesson to apply to business – be ready for anything.

When I first opened my franchise, I wanted to make sure every employee understood what every job in the company was responsible for. I wanted my office worker to know what my field worker is doing and vice versa. It instills a true team atmosphere. I believe that everyone understanding that we’re all working together to accomplish the same goal will develop a strong team. If someone unexpectedly calls off one day, the other employees have the basic understanding of what job they need to pitch in with. The transparency of roles is especially true in the military and it creates a sincere sense of trust and collaboration. I try to do the same in business.

Franchising and the military have so many similarities. In the military, failure is not an option because you’re preparing to protect your country. When I retired from the military and went into franchising, I decided that I will not accept failure and this venture will be my final career. Just like the military wasn’t a hobby for me, neither is this business. When you’re in, you have got to be all in.

Veterans do well with structure which is why franchising is often a good avenue for us. As a veteran, it’s hard to go into anything without a strong foundation, so when you go into a business, make sure you know the requirements of the job and understand and agree with the business structure. It took me two years to find the right situation and I suggest everyone to do their due diligence and research instead of settling on something you may not want to do long-term.

Being a franchise owner is similar to being the commanding officer in the military. For veterans that have been in that position, you’ll be able to apply that experience to reach success. For those that always wanted to be the commanding officer, now is your chance as a franchise owner.

If you’re thinking about going into franchising or if you’re not as successful as you thought you’d be in franchising, remember your military training and incorporate it into your business. While I always had a passion for building and fixing, it was the military that really taught me how to be an effective business owner. Veterans, no matter their careers, need to leverage that expertise.

Tim Adams is the owner of Mr. Handyman of Virginia Beach. After high school, Tim Adams enlisted in the Navy as a nuclear submarine mechanic and chemist before being selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in engineering. He returned to the submarine force before retiring in 2005 after 26 years in the Navy. Tim then went to work for General Dynamics in Suffolk, Virginia for ten years supporting the Department of Defense. He resigned from General Dynamics after researching service franchises for him and his wife to invest in, before deciding on Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company and the nation’s leading home repair and maintenance franchise.

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