Veterans and Jobs Highlighted at Southeast Franchise Forum

The Southeast Franchise Forum (SEFF) met on Veteran’s Day, November 11, to recognize members who have served the United States and held a panel discussion about how veterans are finding successful post-military careers in franchising.

Among the veterans at the meeting were Jim Squire, CFE (Army; SEFF chairman and CEO), Joe Lindenmayer (Marine Corp.; SEFF vice chair), and Joe McCord (Air Force; SEFF board member).

Experts on the panel also discussed ways two other groups of people are finding success in franchising business opportunities: professional athletes and members of America’s diverse communities. Lindenmayer, chairman of IFA’s VetFran and president of TSS Photography, gave a status update on the nationwide veteran’s initiative.

“A recent IFA survey shows more than 50,000 veterans have joined franchising just this year, including over 400 who opened new franchises – and those numbers are conservative,” Lindenmayer said. “VetFran is making a huge impact on the post-military lives of veterans nationwide and the Southeast Franchise Forum is one of our most active and supportive partners.”

Lindenmayer said VetFran’s mission is to provide access and opportunities in franchising to veterans and their spouses.

“The Southeast Franchise Forum supports all of the initiatives of the IFA,” said Squire, executive vice president and chief development officer of Firestorm, “and it’s our job to provide a forum for robust discussion and support here in the Southeast for the many programs available nationwide. We survey our membership regularly to learn what topics are of greatest interest and the three highlighted in November – veterans, athletes and diversity – are clearly top priorities. We were glad to highlight them at the meeting.”

Stan Friedman, CFE, moderated the panel discussion. Friedman is president of FRM Solutions, a SEFF board member and winner of IFA’s Ronald E. Harrison Diversity Award in 2011. He is also co-founder and chairman of the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative (PAFI).

PAFI is a virtual tool as well as a real world bridge between professional athletes and the franchising world which has helped many pro athletes transition to the business world, including Zelly Wesson who participated on the recent panel. A Workout Anytime franchisee, former professional basketball player, and certified personal trainer, Wesson shared with SEFF members how vital it is for professional athletes to develop a business stream after their pro careers and play to their personal strengths.

PAFI, a hub of education, research and interaction for professional athletes and the franchising community, has been essential in helping Wesson and other athletes develop synergistic relationships in franchising after retiring from pro sports.

Wesson and Lindenmayer were joined on the November 11th panel by Scott Thompson, CFE, vice president of development for Premium Franchise Brands, who spoke about the need for operational excellence, leadership and sales skills in building diverse teams of people around a central vision.

The December meeting of SEFF will feature IFA president and CEO Steve Caldeira who will share reflections on franchising in 2014 and franchise opportunities in 2015. The Hill Newspaper recently named Caldeira as one of Washington’s top lobbyists.

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