How Military Lessons Taught Me to Succeed in Franchising

After more than 20 years in corporate America as a sales representative, I wasn’t fulfilled professionally and longed to be my own boss. Not interested in creating a business from scratch and knowing my strengths were best displayed when I have a plan, I decided to look into franchising.

As a graduate of the Naval Academy, I served in the Marine Corps as an air support control officer for five years. I found franchising to be a natural fit for me because similar to the military, it provides structure and a clear, proven system to follow. Reflecting on my time in franchising, I see how my military training has directly impacted the way I operate my business on a daily basis. 

Finding a Proven System

The military is a well-oiled machine. Everything a soldier does is organized and no time is wasted, from the minute he or she wakes until the lights go out, soldiers know exactly what each day entails. Once out of the military, it’s no surprise that veterans continue to perform well with a clear system. Franchises provide the same support. The military teaches us to execute orders and complete tasks efficiently. As a franchisee, the same mindset applies. I’ve been given a proven business plan and a step-by-step process that will ultimately create a profitable business. In both military and franchising, it isn’t required to recreate the wheel, and I appreciate that. Follow the orders, and the mission will be completed, whether it’s a military mission or the mission of business success.

When a veteran is provided a proven system, they’re all in and will follow through. Whatever the next step in the plan, veterans will do it, no questions asked. To be successful in franchising, the owner has to follow the business plan by the book. Franchisors know how to be profitable and are providing the path to success, which is why finding a franchise you believe in is so important. Trust that the franchisors continue to work to develop the best model possible for your business. In the end, executing a successful business is worth paying the royalty fee. Show a veteran something that works, give direction on how to implement the system and we will be successful.

Taking on Small Tasks to Generate Huge Results

In the military, discipline is something that is drilled into you. There is an art to doing daily grunt work. We are taught to wake up every day and complete small tasks that will ultimately accomplish a larger goal. The work, at times, can feel monotonous, but we know doing it will positively affect the big picture because everyone is assigned a job that needs to be completed to meet the ultimate goal. To this day as an entrepreneur, I still instill discipline into each one of my days.

Not only does the military teach discipline, but also discipline in execution. I focus on completing small daily tasks and concentrate on doing them well because they result in big payoffs. Success is about waking up and performing the small tasks to make yourself and your business better. For example, each day I hand out promotional material to local residents in order to introduce myself and my business. I try to get as much interaction with the community as possible to help generate awareness on a local level and have seen a payoff with new clients based on the relationships I’ve made. This is the daily discipline veterans learn from the military that I transfer to owning a franchise.

My Advice to Veterans Getting into Franchising

For other veterans that are interested in getting into the world of franchising, I have three pieces of advice. First of all, believe in yourself. You have already done one of the most challenging tasks a person could take on by serving your country. Be confident in your decision to jump into business ownership and believe you’ll be successful. Second, remember your military training and the lessons learned from that time in your life, then carry that to your business. You can do this, you’ve been trained to have the internal ability to do this. Follow the business plan the franchisor has set. Give it your all and you will be successful. Finally, make sure you conduct research and have an understanding as to what the business entails. Speak with current franchisees and see if their experiences seem doable for you. Once you find the franchise you want to invest in, get ready to work.

When it comes to being a successful franchisee, remember the mindset you had during your time in the military and use the structure provided. It is simple: do the daily work and make the commitment to serving your franchise, just like you committed to serve your country.

Kirk Williams graduated from the Naval Academy in 1988 and was an air support control officer for the Marines until 1993. After years in corporate sales, Kirk purchased Dryer Vent Wizard of Pittsburgh. Dryer Vent Wizard is the nation’s leader in dryer vent repair, cleaning and maintenance.

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