How Two Decades in the Army and One Life Changing Event Helped Me Become a Better Franchisee

As a kid, I always knew the military was in my future. It called to me from a young age, and I spent more than 20 years in the Army, jumping in right after college as a helicopter pilot. After 10 years in the cockpit, I moved into a Public Affairs role at the Pentagon in 2000. I had no way of knowing that one short year later I would have a front seat to one of the most pivotal events in our nation’s history.

On September 11, 2001 I was sitting at my desk when reports of the tragic events in New York City came in. The entire office was mesmerized and appalled at the scenes displayed on the television broadcasts, but we all understood we still had jobs to do. Soon after I returned to my daily routine, I felt the building shudder and heard the deep growl of an explosion outside. I snapped my head up to look out a nearby window where I saw a growing black and orange fireball fill the sky as an airplane crashed into the Pentagon, directly across the courtyard from my office. At that point, I had already decided to leave the Army for other opportunities, but I knew then the world had changed. While I did take a brief hiatus, when the war started in Iraq, I returned to active duty for another 10 years.

It has always been in my DNA to help protect people, similar to the way it has always been a goal of mine to own my own business. As my military career came to an end and I looked into what my next career move would be, I knew I wanted to be a part of a business that helped people. I wanted to experience the satisfaction of working to see something grow, become successful and benefit my community. As I began my journey into entrepreneurship, I knew that my military career had set me up for success as a franchisee.

Allow Your Passions to Drive You

When it comes to selecting a franchise organization with which to associate yourself, find your passion and pursue it. I knew, even after my service came to an end, I would want to continue serving and protecting the American people, as I had done for so many years in the Army. That calling led me to Dryer Vent Wizard, where I saw the potential to continue that legacy of service by working to reduce the number of home fires caused by dryers each year. There are so many franchise options out there, so find one that fits your ultimate lifestyle. I desired the flexibility to spend time with my family and pursue other hobbies, which is exactly what Dryer Vent Wizard allows me to do. Find the business that fits you and don’t be afraid to take that leap.

Prepare Yourself for Challenges

Even with the backing and support of a corporate office, launching a franchised business is not easy. I knew I wanted to open my own business early on and spent years saving money, to make sure I wouldn’t have to incur a load of debt as I ventured out into this entrepreneurial journey. In the beginning, I did not know if Dryer Vent Wizard of Middle Tennessee would take off for me. However, through discipline and a positive attitude, I’ve seen continued success as my business has grown. Trust your franchise organization’s processes – it has been proven time and time again.

I remembered everything I learned in the military as I came upon challenges. As a commander, I was taught how to understand a problem, visualize a solution and then execute it. I still use that process each and every day. It allows me to buy into my business and, in turn, my customers to buy into me.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

The fact is, there are thousands of franchises to choose from and that can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do your research and always ask questions, no matter how small they seem. Use the resources and classes that the military offers to help transition back into civilian life. The entrepreneurial classes I took before retiring were invaluable in starting my business.

Franchise systems are all about teamwork. I work alone in my industry, which was and still is a big change from my time in the Army when I constantly was part of a team. However, I know that I am not alone in my business. I see the strong support from our corporate office, as well as other franchisees within the system. We are all working toward one goal, together.

Jeff Allen was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1990, directly after college, and trained as a helicopter pilot. He spent the next 10 years stationed at different Army posts, some overseas. Allen transitioned into a public affairs role in the Pentagon in 2000. During this time, he witness the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. After a short hiatus, he reentered the Army and continued serving in a public affairs role, deploying several times to Iraq over another 10 years. Allen retired a Lieutenant Colonel opened Dryer Vent Wizard of Middle Tennessee in 2014.

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