There are many good things to say about the franchising industry, like the role it plays in the country’s economy and how supportive it is of its members. But, there’s another important area where the industry shines, and that’s its long history of reaching out to U.S. military veterans to help them transition back into civilian life.
Long before many other groups, the franchise industry was there for U.S. veterans. In fact, way back in 1991, a strategic initiative called VetFran was launched to support veterans returning from the Gulf War. Although thousands of military men and women subsequently joined the industry, franchisees as a group are never content to rest on their laurels. Now there’s a renewed effort by the International Franchise Association (IFA) to continue to boost this number, as thousands of service members return to the U.S. from Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief causes is supporting military families and veterans. As part of the White House Joining Forces initiative, she announced Operation Enduring Opportunity in late 2011. As one of the key objectives of this campaign, all 825,000 U.S. franchise businesses were asked to help reach the goal of hiring and recruiting 75,000 veterans and 5,000 wounded warriors by 2014. The industry says this is the largest hiring and recruiting commitment it has ever undertaken.
True to form, the franchise industry has stepped up with flying colors. Vetfran.org reports that since 2011, nearly 65,000 veterans have entered franchising, including 4,314 as owners. And this past April, the White House Joining Forces initiative announced that 290,000 veterans and military spouses have been hired or trained since the launch of the initiative. Franchising contributed almost a quarter of this total.
The Chair of the VetFran Committee, Joe Lindenmayer, says that today, VetFran’s ranks have grown to include more than 500 franchise systems that voluntarily offer financial incentives to military veterans who are interested in becoming franchise small business owners. Most impressively, one out of every seven franchise businesses are now owned and operated by military veterans, and more are being added every month. Read Mr. Lindenmayer’s entire message here.
Bringing more veterans into franchising appears to be the ultimate win-win. The industry and the businesses themselves benefit, obviously, from being able to pull from a huge and very skilled talent pool. They are giving back in multiple and enduring ways-- to their communities, to the country and to those who sacrificed so much for us all. And once identified by the VetFran logo as a program participant, they enjoy increased public support.
Veterans themselves find that the franchising industry is a niche that suits them. Vetfran.org suggests some reasons why this continues to be such a successful match:
- Veterans’ strong leadership skills and thorough understanding of teams, along with experience in improving processes and accomplishing missions
- Veterans’ ability to work with systems and procedures that require precision
- Veterans’ embrace of the training, guidance and support franchising provides that makes the proven business model successful
- Ongoing support combined with independence—being in business for yourself, not by yourself
If you’re a veteran or know one, or if you’re a franchise owner, visit the VetFran website to find out more about exploring franchise opportunities. In particular, the site offers a VetFran Toolkit to help veterans get started; just complete a short form to access it.