After leaving my 20-year career in the army to work for a technical professional services firm, I never would have expected to see myself as franchisee or the Vice President of Veterans’ Programs and Recruiting for Marco’s Pizza. I saw several of my military peers transition into franchising after retiring from the military and I quickly learned why franchising is a natural fit for veterans.
Franchises provide structure and clear, proven systems to follow. One day, I was speaking with Joe Walker, a friend from the Army who at the time owned 14 Marco’s Pizza franchise locations. After a few conversations, he offered to assist me in opening my own location.
A few months later I went to Discovery Day, where I learned more about the franchise opportunity, and had the pleasure of talking to the President of the brand. We discussed how the franchise wanted to do more for Veterans and he offered me the newly created position of Vice President of Veterans’ Programs and Recruiting on the spot, which meant I would recruit and assist with onboarding newly transitioned Soldiers into the franchise. Accepting the role was best decision I made, as it has provided me with a platform to help Veterans transition back into civilian life in a meaningful and impactful way. My own transition from the military was successful for a variety of reasons, including many that others can and should take advantage of. These include:
Utilizing Your Veteran Support System
If I didn’t network with other veterans, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have gone to Discovery Day, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak to Marco’s President and I wouldn’t be helping other Veterans transition into civilian life through franchising. Seeking career opportunities post-service can be an extremely daunting task, so seeing where fellow Veterans are finding success is key to getting started on the right foot. Veterans looking to franchise should use the networks that they have; talk to other Veteran franchisees who are doing well and traveling down the same path as you. Developing and maintaining those relationships are important because at the end of the day, everyone wants to see each other succeed as you would have in the military.
Tapping Your Leadership Experience
Being part of the military, you need to have an inherent work ethic. Those with a strong, natural work ethic come to learn why this skill is a necessity – there’s often a sense of urgency to complete tasks. Failure to do so in a quick and efficient manner can have severe consequences. This carries over to owning a franchise as well. You learn how to prioritize what is required of being a franchisee and to take care of the tasks at hand quickly and efficiently, as your team, employees and livelihood depend on your responsibility.
There are several parallels between being in the military and owning a franchise. You want to get your employees to work toward a common goal as you would in the military. Leading a store team is similar to leading a platoon – both are about the size of 30 people. The mentoring skills you used in the military are required to build a successful and hard-working team. Just as the military is, owning a franchise is a people business. If you don’t understand or are unable to influence people, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to succeed. You must understand the needs of your teammates, customer and vendors. Failure to do so limits your chances at success.
Putting Trust in the Business Model
No one is an expert in everything. Far too often business owners try to be the jack of all trades, which hurts the business more than it helps. A business is specialized just as the Army is. You probably won’t find an intel sergeant in charge of firing a howitzer any more than finding someone who hasn’t studied accounting wouldn’t be completing tasks that an accountant would. Find the right people to complete the tasks that you wouldn’t be able to accomplish properly on your own. People specialize in different areas for a reason – let go of the need to control every aspect of the business and delegate tasks to someone who can do the job and do it well.
A lot of pressure comes with being a business owner, but asking for help and having established support systems backing you can alleviate some of that stress. This is why franchises are an ideal fit for veteran entrepreneurs – each franchise has built-in operational standards for you to follow.
Utilizing the benefits that come with being a part of the military is key to becoming a successful franchisee. Continue fostering those relationships with the people you’ve served with, continue putting the skills you developed in the military to use and most of all, trust the business model. Veterans who follow these pieces of advice will be better postured to succeed as franchisees.
Scott Quagliata was commissioned out of ROTC after graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1989 and served until he retired in 2009. After years in a corporate setting, Scott purchased a Marco’s Pizza in Charlottesville and became the Vice President of Veterans’ Programs and Recruiting.