Why Franchising and the Restaurant Industry Are a Good Fit for Veterans

When Kevin Adcock reflects on his time served in the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, he thinks of his years of training and preparation, the stark reality of being placed in an area of combat and the lifelong friendships he formed with others in service.  While he is no longer searching for IEDs on the battlefield and helping Iraqi citizens rebuild their country, today Adcock applies many of the traits he learned in the military such as teamwork, accountability and leadership to owning a franchised restaurant in Cheraw, SC.

As a third-generation veteran, Adcock always had a military presence in his life.  His father spent 26 years in the Navy and flew EA-6B Prowlers, while both of his grandfathers served in the Navy during World War II.  While Adcock did not follow their footsteps into the Navy, he joined the Marine Corps out of high school and spent a total of 21 years in the military, which included two tours of duty in Iraq.

In the Marines, Adcock served as Field Artillery Forward Observer, setting up observation posts on the battlefield and ordering air strikes on the enemy.  He later served as a Field Artillery Targeting Technician in the Army, analyzing intelligence and making recommendations to the field operations team.

As Adcock approached retirement from the North Carolina Army National Guard five years ago, he explored franchise ownership.  He was attracted to Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, a classic American diner concept with a 1950’s themed-atmosphere.  When he went for the discovery day, Adcock was put to ease when he was given a checklist of what was needed to operate the restaurant franchise.  Despite his lack of experience in the industry, he felt confident in his ability to succeed.

“If you tell me you have a standard operating procedure, I’m all over it,” said Adcock.  “Like most veterans, I had never worked in a restaurant.  So, to go from not working in one to owning and operating one, it was a significant jump.”

Along with receiving the ongoing support of a franchise system, Hwy 55 provided an excellent guide to prepare Adcock for restaurant ownership.  However, there were many aspects of the position he needed to learn on his own. Whether it was keeping customers happy, leading young staff members or dealing with an unexpected problem in the kitchen, Adcock relied on his experiences in the military by being flexible at all time.

“There are different things that work better than others,” said Adcock.  “It may not be what’s in ‘the book’, but it is something you figure out on the fly. You come to the realization that the best way to do something isn’t always written down.”

Adcock has been able to successfully balance the many learning on the job moments with Hwy 55’s playbook of instructions for operating the restaurant.  Over the past five years, he’s had many visitors to the restaurant who he first met in the military.  That’s not surprising to Adcock, who cherishes the comradery and relationships he developed with others who served.

“A lot of guys I served with have visited the restaurant and have specifically come to support me.  That is the way it has always been.  We support each other in everything we do.  That is the way it is in combat.  You support the person next to you and they support you.”

Although his current daily responsibilities of hiring and training employees, ordering supplies and serving customers are quite different than analyzing intelligence on the battlefield, others are not surprised by Adcock’s transition in life.  He noted that many of his friends felt that holding the positions in the military prepared him for a successful civilian career.

So what advice would Adcock give other veterans or members of the military who are exploring franchise ownership?

“I would tell that that it is hard work, but that it is very rewarding.  I think there are parallels between the military and franchise ownership in that the harder you work, the more successful you can be.  I like to work, and I think a lot of military are similar in they don’t shy away from hard work or physical labor.  If veterans are looking for something to continue the same kind of values and ethos, I think franchising and the restaurant industry are a good fit because it takes a lot of time, effort and attention to detail.”


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