Veterans are in the Driver’s Seat of the Franchise Industry

veteran salutes

This article originally appeared in FranchiseWire on November 7, 2022.

Veterans are Sought-After in Franchising. Here’s Why.

With 10 years in the military (three Army and seven Air Force) and 11 years in the franchise business, here are three things I’d like to share with my fellow vets.

  1. The franchise world LOVES veterans
  2. Many franchises offer special incentives to veterans
  3. You don’t have to be wealthy to open a franchise

The Franchise World Loves Veterans 

This might come as a surprise, but the military has a lot in common with the franchise world.

Think about it.

Both are organized for a common purpose (one to crush the enemy and the other to crush the competition). Both rely upon rule following. Both have highly trained teams. Both utilize uniforms for unit cohesion (well, most franchise brands use uniforms to help with their branding). Just like the military, franchise brands need both leadership and followership.

The Citadel defines followership as being of character and commitment, acting to support the needs and goals of the team.

That’s precisely what a successful franchise brand needs from its franchise partners. The needs and goals of every successful franchise brand include following the recipe for success, excelling at whatever it is that franchise brand provides (food, service, retail, consulting, the list is endless), and working as a cohesive unit – all to match the needs of the team to achieve the collective goal of winning in the marketplace.

Because those traits are drilled into you during your years of service, the franchise world has come to realize veterans often make ideal franchise owners. Since that discovery, veterans are the most sought-after segment of the population franchise recruiters pursue.

Special Incentives for Veterans

Many franchise brands offer substantial veteran discounts off of their franchise fees as a way to not only thank veterans for their service, but also to entice them to join their brand. Often, these discounts amount to about 10% off, but many offer even bigger incentives. Some brands will waive the fee completely or offer contests among veterans.

A few brands have gone so far as to make their offerings exclusive to veterans, which illustrates how serious they are about putting the right team together.

Affording a Franchise

You don’t have to have a lot of money in the bank to break into the franchise world. But, you do have to have some. There are many low-cost franchise models out there. Within the franchise world, “low cost” is generally considered any initial investment under $150,000. But there are many below $50,000 to be found, as well.

You have to play detective to find them, and you should keep an open mind about the type of business you might consider owning. Look past what it is or offers and look at what it does. By “what it does” I mean: Does it afford you an opportunity to make money? Can it change your life’s trajectory? Can it help you take control of your future?

Does it really matter if you’re scooping ice cream or scooping dog waste (yes, there are dog waste removal franchises). As long as it’s a business in high demand and one you can grow, it’s worth a closer look. Think outside the box. Think waaaay outside the box. You might be surprised at what you can find.

Franchise Funding

Funding is always an issue. But there’s good news on that front for veterans, too. Some lending institutions will stretch their loan requirements for veterans. The SBA is a good resource; though, admittedly it can be frustrating to get through their loan application process.

Third parties like Guidant Financial, FranFund and Benetrends can help you navigate the SBA loan process (and charge a fee for their services), but they can also help you with the ROBS Program (Rollover as Business Startups).

Using your 401(k), IRA or military retirement savings (TSP), you essentially form a corporation and use your own funds to invest in your business. Since it’s your money, there’s no credit check and a low credit score would have no effect on securing the funding. And it’s relatively fast to secure – about 30 days.

Of course, there’s always a big caveat about risking your retirement funds. But I’ve seen plenty use this funding mechanism with great success. Be sure to consult your financial and legal advisors before making any investment decisions!

Franchise Due Diligence

Let me finish with a few more bits of advice when considering a franchise. Play detective. The Google machine is your friend. Doing your due diligence is very important.

Use search terms like “Franchises for Veterans,” “Franchise Fee Discounts for Veterans,” “Low-Cost Franchises,” and “Veteran Franchises.” I generally skip the paid ad results (top of the page) from my Google searches and dig deeper into the organic results a little further down.

Keep an open mind about what sort of business to run. You will be provided the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) for any franchise you’re considering (required by law). Read it carefully. Before you sign any Franchise Agreement, hire an attorney who specializes in franchising (foot stomp) to review the document.

Lastly, contact a good sampling of current franchise owners (the list is in the FDD and on their website) and get their feedback. Make sure the comments from the franchise sales director align with what the current franchise owners have to say. If they don’t, walk away. Also, try to contact franchisees who have left the system. What happened that they left? Watch for red flags, but always take sour grapes with a healthy dash of salt.

Veterans are in high demand and therefore, they’re in the driver’s seat with most franchise brands. With around 4,000 franchise brands to choose from, the possibilities are almost endless.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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