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Military Veterans A Franchise Fit

A job search campaign after leaving the military is likely to seem loaded with more heartaches than military life ever did. Many military professionals with excellent job skills have had to lower their career expectations. They accept lesser positions to remain employed due to a lack of civilian understanding of how military training benefits a business.

This is particularly true for one or two term enlisted military personnel that are less well educated than their senior military cohorts. Several former military personnel members will accept jobs that do not commensurate for their skills and abilities they learned in the military. Few employers understand or will compensate adequately for maturity development, and leadership qualities.

Much too often, prospective employers offer lower wages to military retirees knowing they are receiving retired pay, and falsely believe retirees do not merit the same compensation as civilians applying for the same position.

However, the negative predisposition is dying and a new wave of successful former military personnel turned business owners are emerging. After completing military service, many military veterans are being sought after by franchise recruiters peddling small business ownership in the form of franchises.

High quality franchisees that have built or are building a reputation for quality and success are attracted to the self discipline, work ethic and perseverance needed to succeed both in the military and with franchise companies. Military personnel are experienced working within a system, which is a key skill for a franchisee ownership.

Dina Dwyer-Owens, President and Chief Executive of Dwyer Group Inc., is a Waco, Texas based company that owns seven franchise brands, and is also chairwoman of International Franchise Assn.'s Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, or Vet Fran. Vet Fran is a program started by her father, Don Dwyer, during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The program, which offers franchise fee discounts to veterans, faltered after Dwyer died in 1994 and was recently revived by his daughter four years ago.

* In the first eight months of 2006, 231 franchises available for purchase participated in the program. Franchises included UPS Store, Dunkin Donuts and Molly Maids. This is up 30% in 2006 compared to the same period in 2005, the Vet Fran franchise group said.

* A total of 621 veterans bought franchised small businesses through the program in the first eight months of 2006 which is up 60% from 2005.

* The Small Business Administration estimates that it assisted 50% more veterans in 2006 than 2005. William Elmore, SBA associate administrator for veterans business development said "It's grown fairly significantly"

* Veterans own about 14% of all businesses with employees, according to the Small Business Administration. Choosing to buy a franchised small business instead of undertaking an independent business can address some of the concerns veterans may have about running their own business.

Former Marine Daniel Windler used a discount through the veterans franchise program to buy a Rainbow International Restoration & Cleaning franchise in the Imperial Valley in 2003. Keeping things spotless was drilled into him during his four years as a Marine, he said. "The joke around the platoon always was, If nothing else, you can always be a janitor when you get out of the services," the Yucaipa resident said. I guess I took that literally.

"If we have a weakness, it's the business side, and franchising helps you take care of that weakness," said Chuck Southern, a veteran and corporate opportunities specialist at the VA's Center for Veterans Enterprise.

For those who have business concerns, there in assistance available in a variety of forms.
They include

  • Small Business Administration assistance programs
  • Franchise Assistance
  • College courses in Entrepreneurship - on campus and online. (Also see College Entrepreneurship )

"You'll hear a lot about the system...If you follow the system, you'll be OK," Kenneth E. Rusty Roberts Jr., a former Marine. "I'm not saying that it's easy. It's not. It's very hard. But if you follow it, you will be all right."


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