The following is an excerpt from a conversation with Mustafa Browne, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, former Deputy Sheriff, and current owner of JDog Carpet Cleaning New Kent County, VA – part of the JDog Brands franchise. He shares more about what led him to franchising, what fellow Veterans and law enforcement officers should consider when pursuing franchise opportunities, and how COVID-19 has impacted his business.
Franchising USA: To begin, can you give us a little background, including your military experience?
Mustafa Browne: I joined the Air Force in 2007 and served for nine years within Security Forces; the last six years I operated as a canine handler. During my deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, I met my wife Ellen (Army), who’s now my business partner.
When I got out of the Air Force in 2016, I went back to school but quickly realized that I missed the action, so I joined the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in Yorktown, Virginia. For about two and a half years I served as Deputy Sheriff in the uniform patrol division.
I loved my job, and I loved serving, but I had always dreamed of being an entrepreneur. I also wanted to spend more time with my family, so in 2019 I started exploring options, including franchising.
Franchising USA: Why did you decide to pursue franchising?
MB: I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of business I wanted to start, so I looked into franchising as a way to get experience. It wasn’t as risky as building something from the ground up since I knew there was a proven operating model and a team to support me.
Franchising USA: How did you find JDog?
MB: Back in 2016 I connected with Orion Talent, which specializes in military hiring. Orion has a partnership with JDog Brands, and I received one of their emails. JDog immediately stood out since they award franchises exclusively to Veterans and Military family members.
Franchising USA: What attracted you to the JDog franchise?
MB: After serving in the Air Force and in law enforcement, I missed the camaraderie. Fellow Veterans just “get it” and I could tell JDog spoke the same language. They also prioritize serving the community, which I’m passionate about.
Franchising USA: What was the process like?
MB: Onboarding was pretty extensive. We started with a Discovery Day at JDog HQ where Ellen and I asked tons of questions. Starting a business takes a leap of faith and we had to make sure it was the right decision for our family. We quickly realized this was our future.
From there, we had to get insurance, wrapped trucks, and approval from the state to operate. That took a little while, but JDog HQ was by us every step of the way.
Then came a full week of training. We sat through presentations and had hands-on demos, but the real learning takes place every day in our normal operations.
All told, it was around a six-month process from the initial discussion to our soft launch in September 2019.
Franchising USA: What types of ongoing support is provided to JDog franchisees?
MB: So many ways – including ongoing operational training, web support, call routing, marketing, etc. – but most notably, I can call anyone at HQ at any time to ask questions or get advice. We also have a great internal network of fellow franchisees who are always available for advice. That’s another way the camaraderie manifests. We’re not in competition with each other; we really want to see each other grow.
Franchising USA: How has your business changed in the face of COVID-19?
MB: While this wasn’t the ideal year to start a business, we’ve been thriving and recently celebrated two of our best months on record. A year in, we’re growing and gaining momentum, so my next goal is to start hiring more Veterans.
Franchising USA: JDog Brands recently announced discounted franchise fees for current or former law enforcement. Since you served in that capacity, can you explain some of the similarities and ideals that make both Veterans and former law enforcement officials ideal candidates for franchising?
MB: A sense of discipline. Work ethic, drive, and motivation. Respect, Integrity, and Trust. These are driven into us during basic training and reinforced in the police academy.
These attributes are also what sets us apart. Most customers are more willing to let Veterans into their homes than some average Joe. They know we’ll be respectful, we’re trustworthy, and we’ll do more than just get the job done – we’ll do it right and do it efficiently.
Franchising USA: If someone was interested in joining JDog, what would you advise them?
MB: Research, reach out to multiple franchisees, understand the competition, and actively take part in Discovery Day.
I’m so proud to be part of this organization, especially because it’s by Veterans and for Veterans. Veterans and law enforcement officers get what it’s about almost immediately.
But the best part is being part of the community and continuing to serve, while being able to provide for and spend time with my family. It’s incredibly fulfilling, and worth taking that leap.