These U.S. Military veterans have been inspired to create opportunities for fellow veterans. Here’s their advice.
Veterans happen to make great franchise owners. They embody many of the traits that make for successful franchise ownership. According to The International Franchise Association (IFA), 15% of franchises in the U.S. are owned by a military veteran. Veterans use the skills they’ve acquired during their time in the military and apply them to their jobs as franchise owners. They make great leaders, can follow a system, and can take on some of the toughest challenges.
Armed with real-life experience and research about how veterans make great franchise owners, organizations like VetFran provide ways to help veterans transition smoothly into the franchise industry. VetFran, which is part of the International Franchise Association (IFA), has made it easier for veterans to find opportunities in franchising by encouraging franchisors to offer discounts and incentives to veterans, and by giving resources, tools, and a database of franchising opportunities to veterans.
Some very well-known franchise brands were started by veterans. Here we talk to three veterans who took their military experience and created something to benefit others. They readily offer their own wisdom and advice to any veteran who wants to start a business.
Gordon Logan, SportClips
Veterans have been trained to work within a system, to execute with precision, and they have learned the values of culture and teamwork.Gordon Logan, SportClips
Gordan Logan, who has served as an aircraft commander in the U.S. Air Force, was in the hair salon business for 15 years when he realized that no one was paying attention to the men and boys’ haircut market niche in the early 1990s. With a vision and a leadership mindset, SportClips was born. Today, SportClips is a leading franchise brand that is known for its culture of caring. The company has donated millions to charitable organizations that benefit veterans, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation (top photo). The company’s “Haircuts with Heart” program embraces charitable endeavors that make a difference in the lives of veterans, families, and children.
Logan says veterans make excellent franchise owners. “Veterans have been trained to work within a system, to execute with precision, and they have learned the values of culture and teamwork. These are key qualities of any business leader, but especially true in franchising where successfully executing a proven business model is critical,” Logan says. “Most veterans have also had extensive leadership training as an NCO or officer, which serves them well in their role as a franchisee.”
Logan offers valuable wisdom to veterans, beginning with checking out VetFran for guidance. Additionally, Logan wants franchise-seeking veterans to make sure of these things before getting started: “Make sure you are adequately financed, since the worst thing that can happen is you run out of cash before your business becomes well established. Choose your franchise carefully – the people behind the franchise are critical… Read the FDD carefully. How long has this business been franchising? Smaller franchises may be exciting, but could present challenges in getting financing or desirable real estate locations since lenders and landlords look at the strength of the franchisor as well as the franchisee.” But most importantly he advises, “learn about the backgrounds of the leadership, do some research into their prior experience… and talk to existing franchisees!”
Jerry Flanagan, JDog Brands
When you give veterans a playbook to follow, they are going to succeed!Jerry Flanagan, JDog Brands
Transitioning from military life to every-day life can be hard. Jerry Flanagan understood this when he founded JDog Brands. With a mission to help veteran families, while also providing employment opportunities for veterans, JDog Brands provides junk hauling and carpet cleaning services.
“I started hauling junk out of my garage 10 years ago out of desperation. There was a recession and I needed a way to provide for my family. Waste management is one of the few recession-proof industries,” Flanagan says. “Once I started hiring veterans from the VA office, a larger mission began and it inspired my wife, Tracy Flanagan, and I to start franchising. Our goal then became to decrease the veteran unemployment rate to under 1% through business ownership opportunities.”
Flanagan agrees that veterans and franchising make a great pair, especially with JDog brands. “Franchising…gives them the sense of camaraderie they experienced in the military — this time with their fellow franchise owners,” Flanagan says. “Also, veterans are great at following a system. When you give them a playbook to follow, they are going to succeed!”
Flanagan offers this advice to any veterans interested in franchising: “If you’re going to leverage your veteran status and start a business (which I recommend), focus on these three things: People: Believe in your customers and the people you work with. Passion: To get up every day and do the same thing over and over again, you have to love what you do. Purpose: Find what makes you tick.”
Jack Child, G-FORCE™
In order to attract our ideal candidate (today’s military veteran), I built the brand just for them.Jack Child, G-Force
In 2018, G-FORCE began its veteran-centric parking lot striping and pavement marking services. For Jack Child, founder of G-FORCE, the secret is in the people who run the franchises, “The pavement marking business is truly a hidden gem in the services sector. In order to attract our ideal candidate (today’s military veteran), I built the brand just for them,” he says.
Child agrees that franchising is definitely a great fit for veterans. “There’s way more to starting a business than most people realize. You can plug and play, so to speak, with a good franchise that offers the right training and support,” Child says. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The early heavy lifting has already been done for you.”
For any veteran who is looking to start a business, Child recommends doing your homework and thinking outside the box. “Not one of our 29 franchise owners ever, in their wildest dreams, imagined running a parking lot striping business. Be open to opportunities you’ve never thought of.”