New Tools Provide Veterans More Access to Careers in Franchising

Veterans now have more tools to jump-start their careers in franchising, IFA announced during a media event in Washington, D.C. on June 28.  IFA conducted events at veteran-owned franchise businesses in 12 cities to launch new tools to put veterans back to work in franchising.   A VetFran Toolkit and a Veterans Mentor Network are part of IFA’s Operation Enduring Opportunity campaign. IFA’s VetFran program helps returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance and industry support.

“As we celebrate Independence Day next week, let’s remember that our freedom comes at a price,” said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE.

The association committed to the White House Joining Forces Initiative to hire as team members and recruit as franchise business owners 75,000 veterans, military spouses and 5,000 wounded warriors by the end of 2014. “This represents the largest private-sector commitment to date,” said Caldeira.  “Since last year, 6,900 started careers in franchising since we launched Operation Enduring Opportunity, including over 4,200 new veteran franchise owners.”

The VetFranToolkit includes a skills and attributes assessment tool developed by Caliper, a finance assessment that lets veterans enter their financial details and a Franchising 101 online course to provide individuals with a comprehensive introduction to franchising.

A VetFran Mentor Network has been created which will be led by volunteer veteran franchising leaders, including Sport Clips, Inc. Founder and CEO Gordon Logan, who retired from the U.S. Air Force, and Two Men And A Truck Chair of the Board Melanie Bergeron, CFE.

During the media conference, panelists provided these their insights.

Kevin Schmiegel, founder and executive director of Hiring Our Heroes at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a 20-year Marine veteran, offered that “in just 15 months, the chamber and its partners have connected more than 140,000 veterans and military spouses with over 7,000 different employers through hiring fairs in 211 communities.”  Nearly 10,000 veterans and military spouses have found employment through the program and that small and large businesses working together can grow by hiring “talented and highly capable veterans and military spouses.”

Sign-A-Rama President Jim Tatem, CFE, outlined the qualities, such as tenacity, which military veterans bring to U.S. businesses.  “Folks from the military who get into franchising are willing to take that same tenacity to fight for our economy.” Tatem added that “they improvise, they adapt and then they overcome.”  Today, Sign-A-Rama has about 31 percent of their recently surveyed franchisees that have “either veteran ownership or veteran employees,” said Tatem.

Sign-A-Rama franchisee Robert DeGroff of Fayetteville, N.C., a retired Marine, said he was attracted to franchising because “he wanted to run his own business” and be “my own boss.”   DeGroff said he also didn’t want to be micro-managed.  “Most importantly, I wanted to provide a service that I’m proud of.”

Abrakadoodle Remarkable Art Education President Rosemarie Hartnett, CFE, described how a call from Iraq, which first sounded like an inquiry about master franchising, would lead to a successful husband-wife franchisee team in Oklahoma City, Okla.  There were many questions on both sides, especially since the couple was serving in Iraq. “What I did learn was about the operational excellence, the leadership skills that our veterans have” and the potential that they bring to a franchise system, said Hartnett.

The UPS Store franchisee owner Wade Franklin, a Navy veteran, began looking for the way to best use his military- acquired skills to his greatest advantage.  “I actually went to Google and Googled veteran opportunities, franchise opportunities,” which lead him to IFA and VetFran. The UPS Store caught his attention because the franchise offered to waive the franchise fee.  Franklin expects his Virginia store to be up and running by October.