The International Franchise Association’s VetFran program is making a difference in the lives of people who’ve
served our country through the military.
The numbers prove it:
• One-out-of-every-seven franchise businesses is owned and operated by a veteran of the U.S. military.
• More than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses in the United States provide jobs for 815,000 Americans and generate more than $41 billion in GDP.
• Since the November 2011 launch of Operation Enduring Opportunity, more than 150,000 veterans started careers in franchising, including more than 5,200 new franchise business owners.
• More than 640 franchise businesses participate in the VetFran program through incentives and by providing mentorship opportunities.
As VetFran vice chairman and a VetFran mentor, I’m proud of the tools we offer online and in-person through member franchises that are essential in the discovery and decision-making processes around becoming a franchise investor or operator.
From a veteran’s perspective – typically with a preference for structure − it is critical to provide a framework for all information and resources necessary to methodically walk through the benefits of franchise ownership.
The required financial profile and operational model should be communicated in a way that easily allows a potential veteran candidate to determine a good lifestyle and value system fit, for those who possess the entrepreneurial spirit. Through the franchise business model, we can help them find a purpose that allows them to continue to serve others.
Up-to-date franchise news, how-tos, personal stories and frequently asked questions are just a few of the items included in a toolkit offered by VetFran that make it convenient to source customized information required to launch what may well become a second career with a franchise for our veterans.
For franchises to be effective in our outreach to service members and veterans, we, as VetFran participants, must actively engage the same principles that make us relevant to our clients and customers in recruiting these potential franchisees to our ranks.
• Franchises should stay on trend, relevant, inspiring, purposeful, innovative and community-centric − these are things that will make our future franchisees pause, listen and pay attention. It’s “Marketing 101” to be engaging, and the same is true when it comes to franchise recruitment, especially for military candidates.
We’ve all seen franchise concepts come and go, but those with staying power maintain these key characteristics from the highest levels in their support centers to those individuals who deliver our frontline products and services.
These are the qualities that will motivate candidates to not only seek us out, but look deeper into the opportunities we offer them.
• Franchises should incorporate military-support programming to demonstrate concern for active-duty service members and veterans, not just in word, but in deed. Having a military recognition component as a part of your operations or philanthropic outreach is an effective way to give back and gain the respect of those who serve, as well as the respect of their friends and family. As a veteran, I made it a priority to support the military through the franchise I founded, Sport Clips Haircuts, and soon found it was enthusiastically embraced by team members, clients and franchisees.
Giving back to those who have given so much to us fits well with our brand and with our values, and gives a sense of
purpose to the entire organization.
• Franchises that honor the military may find it becomes an essential, powerful component of your brand identity, as it is in alignment with the lifestyle demands of clients. For many franchise concepts, and certainly for ours, it is quite literally a part of who we are. If you don’t already have a philanthropy established, I encourage you to take a close look at the options you have available to support worthy veterans’ causes, including partnering with established veterans’ organizations such as the VFW. Our signature outreach is through Sport Clips’ Help
A Hero program (administered by the VFW) that funds scholarships for returning military members who are working toward the next step in their careers, as well as free phone calls home through the Veterans of Foreign Wars’
Operation Uplink. Other options we’ve supported through in-store fundraisers and donations include Wounded
Warriors Family Support, Honor Flights and Ageless Aviation Dreams; there are many that may well fit your interests and your brand.
• Potential franchisees, military or not, want brands to be deliberate with their identity and make it simple; the
same is true no matter your concept and your audience. Make it simple for those military members who are transitioning to civilian careers or are coming to us years after their military service to understand what it is you have
to offer. Ours is to offer a championship haircut experience for men and boys in an exciting sports-themed environment. Yours may be just as simple, but put it out there for them to see, learn, know and embrace. Start with your franchise development team, make sure they know it and live it. The more comfortable you
are with your brand identity, the easier it will be communicated to potential veteran franchisees in a way that resonates and is effective.
• Franchises should work to build teams that allow for rallying behind a mission. Franchises typically offer a focused business strategy that sets us apart in offering investors a way to work together toward a common goal.
The same is true for those in the armed forces, who are accustomed to being provided with the tools and equipment needed to be successful in their missions. We can do the same through our franchises in recruiting them; we simply need to communicate that mission as we build our teams through franchise recruiting efforts.
• Franchises must have well documented policies and procedures.
Veterans have been trained to follow systems, where precise execution is key to successful mission completion and in many situations, life or death. Make sure that your franchise systems are well-documented and effectively communicated to take advantage of this key advantage that veterans have in becoming successful franchisees.
Noted author and agency executive Roy Spence suggests that it is important to help people discover and live their purpose, with the understanding that purpose drives performance. As members of VetFran, we can help veterans discover the enthusiasm we have for our brands and what we deliver daily through our service offerings.
Our messaging to veteran candidates as potential franchisees should be deliberate and concise. We must have a strong support structure to provide through a franchise model as a roadmap for their success in our systems. By doing so, we’ll help veterans evaluate if our purpose and values are consistent with theirs, and will make franchising an even stronger option for veterans in reaching their civilian career potential when they consider next steps. If we do this effectively, the number of veterans in franchising will.
Gordon Logan is the founder and CEO of Sport Clips Inc. and serves on the IFA board of directors. Find him at: fransocial.franchise.org.