11 months ago

Top Franchises for Veterans 2017


SPECIAL REPORT: Top Franchises for Veterans Continued from page 5. faction reviews offer a wealth of information on the system’s leadership, culture, training and support, financial outlook, and franchisee community. Franchisee satisfaction data is even more important to prospective franchisees on active military duty. If you’re located abroad, it may not be easy to conduct the necessary due diligence—calling current franchisees, visiting local stores, and meeting with the corporate office—from afar. While we always recommend potential operators talk to current franchisees, this report can at least be a starting point for your conversations. VETERANS & FRANCHISING Why are franchise companies so interested in recruiting veterans into franchising? The answer is two-fold, franchisors tell us—they want to “do good” and give back to veterans and they see a real synergy between the skills necessary to succeed in franchising and the skillsets trained by the military. The best franchise companies excel at recruiting great people, and then training and supporting them to be top performing business owners. Great franchise companies understand that if their franchisees are successful, the franchise company will be successful too. “Franchisors offer a business model, operating systems, and procedures. We find that veterans are often better at following that system than those who haven’t had that kind of experience and training,” said Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS. “When you open a new business, it’s going to be longer hours and harder work—than just having a job. Our folks who have served in the military are not afraid of hard work. That kind of perseverance and commitment is what it takes to own a business.” FASTSIGNS offers a 50% discount off their initial franchise fee of $47,500 for veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military. FASTSIGNS has also won a Franchise Business Review Franchisee Satisfaction Award for 12 consecutive years. “The same qualities that allow someone to succeed as a member of our nation’s armed services often make them a perfect franchisee with Office Pride,” said Gerry Henley, U.S. Army veteran Rob Caldwell invested in his Davidson, NC HomeVestors franchise 14 years ago to enhance his existing business of buying and renovating homes. executive vice president of Office Pride, a commercial cleaning franchise based in Palm Harbor, Florida. “We want to make sure that we’re attracting the best franchise candidates possible, especially veterans. Office Pride Commercial Cleaning offers qualified veterans a 25% discount off their initial franchise fee, and this year launched a new veterans-focused program to waive 100% of the franchise fee for up to three qualified veteran franchisee candidates. FirstLight Home Care CEO Jeff Bevis is also a big believer in recruiting veterans as franchise owners. In addition to leading his national home care franchise, Bevis also serves as vice-chairman of VetFran—a volunteer organization tasked with helping veterans and their families discover opportunities for employment and business ownership within franchising. “Veteran franchise owners bring an added level of leadership, discipline and focus to their operations,” said Bevis. “Across my 30 years in franchising, their operational and growth results absolutely lead the upper quartile in performance.” Like many franchise CEOs, Bevis knows that veterans that get into franchising achieve solid results. That is why Firstlight Home Care offers veterans a $10,000 discount off their franchise fee, and tries to recruit as many veteran franchise owners as they can. TRANSITION TO BUSINESS OWNERSHIP Many veterans in franchising transitioned out of the military and into the workforce for several years, and then decided to purchase a franchise business. Others transition directly out of the military into a franchise. The beauty of franchising is that most franchise companies don’t require you have to have specific industry experience. They can provide most, if not all the training and support you need. Army veteran Jenifer Breaux joined the Army National Guard during college, and was later commissioned as a Chemical Officer, serving in Afghanistan and the Pentagon during her military career. Business ownership was on her mind long before leaving the Army. “I knew that I wanted to work for myself,” said Breaux. “Over a year before I retired, I started attending a variety of classes that put me on the road to self-discovery. The military was wonderful in assisting with my transition. I discovered that owning a franchise was the perfect fit for me.” While Breaux had many skills, marketing and technology were not her strong suit. She conducted a deep self-assessment and then looked for a franchise organization that could fill in the gaps. She came upon the Dream Vacations franchise, which is a leader in the travel and cruise industry with very high franchisee satisfaction ratings. 10 | For more information on this report, visit:

SPECIAL REPORT: Top Franchises for Veterans “We have found our veteran franchise owners especially aspire to and achieve their results at a more rapid pace. Veterans follow a system, a process, a proven path, and EXECUTE with high consistency!” “I knew that I had the skills to own a business—to be a leader in business—but I did not have a business background,” Breaux continued. “I also have a passion for travel. Dream Vacations has a fabulous team of experts and extensive training programs. It truly is the best of both worlds. You have your own franchise with the freedom to build and grow, but you have the support with marketing, web design, and partnerships that the headquarters fosters. I knew Dream Vacations was the perfect fit.” For qualified veterans, Dream Vacations offers up to a 20% discount on their franchise fee of $9,800. Dream Vacations is one of the more affordable franchise opportunities on our Top Franchises for Veterans list, with a total startup cost of just $12,500 - $21,850 for first-time travel agents. Travel franchise opportunities are a popular choice for veterans. Charles “Russ” Russell, a U.S. Air Force veteran, found his franchise opportunity with Cruise Planners, which operates a similar model and has also made Franchise Business Review’s list of top franchises for four years running. “As I prepared to transition from military life, I attended a mandatory departure workshop,” said Russell. “One of the topics addressed in the transition program was about veterans becoming business owners. Our speaker emphasized a few key points that made me realize a franchise business would be a wise investment.” After retiring from military service and researching business opportunities, Russell said Cruise Planners kept popping up on his radar. Investing in a franchise enabled him to combine his passion for planning travel adventures with a business that provided the support and brand recognition to get his business up and running. — Jeff Bevis, CEO, FirstLight Home Care “Cruise Planners carries a great deal of industry, supplier and tour operator recognitions,” continued Russell. “As an individual startup, it would take me decades and I still would never achieve the same level of recognition. Cruise Planners makes me look better to the average consumer.” Cruise Planners offers a $1,000 discount off their initial franchise fee of $10,495 for inexperienced travel agents who are qualified U.S. military veterans. Tim Mackin’s path to franchise ownership was slightly different. After 20 years in the Army supporting heavy armored organizations in Texas, Kuwait and Germany, Mackin transitioned into the civilian world as an operations manager for a global fleet vehicle management company. There, he would spend another fifteen years overseeing global operations. It wasn’t until his mother-in-law became ill, that Mackin and his wife Anne “took stock” of their professional lives. “My mother-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and had moved in with us,” shared Mackin. “Coordinating care and balancing the pressures associated with a high-demand job put things into perspective. We were fortunate that we found exceptional care for her, and could truly enjoy our remaining time together. It was such a positive experience that we simply knew we wanted to provide that same experience to others.” The experience of a sick parent has inspired many to consider a change in career paths. For Tim and Anne Mackin, they now knew that they wanted to go into the home care business, but didn’t know where to begin. Their homework started at the local SCORE office, which provides free business education and mentoring through a network of national offices ( FEATURED Franchisee Charles “Russ” Russell Cruise Planners New Braunfels, TX Franchisee since 2013 What led you to franchising? As I prepared to transition from military life, I attended a departure workshop for active military service that addressed veterans becoming business owners. Military members facing life in the civilian world bring a great understanding of discipline, structure and compliance with them, all of which are already built in to most franchise instruments. Why did you select the franchise you did? After I retired from the US Air Force I spent a year researching franchise opportunities, and Cruise Planners just kept popping up on my radar. For years, I had planned adventures for friends, family, and myself. A light bulb went off as I thought, “I can do this for a career.” What do you like best about owning your franchise? I love the freedom. I set my own hours and standards. If I want to try something new, I don’t have to ask permission or get clearance to do a test run. From a professional standpoint, I love that I can choose what business I want to do and with whom I would like to work. I don’t simply sell travel, as much as I curate experiences for my clients. What kind of support did you most appreciate from your franchisor? I attribute much of my growth to the tools and education provided by Cruise Planners. From initial franchisee training, to marketing programs, continuing education, familiarization trip opportunities, and industryrecognized, cutting-edge technology and support, Cruise Planners has always been at my side with the tools I need. What advice would you share with someone considering franchise? Consult with a trusted business attorney and accountant before entering into any business agreement. Also, ask yourself if you can indeed be your own boss and still enjoy your work. It’s not something everyone is cut out for. For more information on Cruise Planners opportunities, call (888) 582-2150 or visit travel-professionals. For more information on this report, visit: | 11

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