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Veterans and Franchises: The Connection

After military service, veterans have many employment options to consider. Some seek employment in a field related to their military experience. Some go back to jobs held before military service. Some embark upon lengthy job searches. Some start their own businesses, and some decide to purchase and operate a franchise. Unfortunately, many of you have not been exposed to the alternative of owning a franchise when considering your post-service options. This article will cover why franchising is a good fit for the veteran community.

The basis of a business-format franchise is a book called an operations manual. (The business model is most common of two, like a McDonald’s®, whereas the second franchise, a product format, is like that of an automobile dealer.) Business franchises use an operations manual describing how the business is run, from whom supplies should be bought, how products are to be made, how many employees the unit needs to have working at various times throughout the day, how marketing should be conducted, and how financial matters of the business should be handled. The operations manual is probably the most important part of a successful franchise system, and often it is overlooked by potential franchisees. It can be the differentiating factor for you when weighing whether to start a business on your own or buy a franchise.

A well-developed franchise system has an operations manual that is a clear-cut guide to running franchises. It has all the information that you might need to consider to efficiently and successfully run a business. It contains the systems and tricks of operating the franchise that the franchisor has developed through research and development as well as years of operating businesses in different environments. Like the operating manuals used in the military, a franchise system’s operation manual is its bible.

“You take away the brand name, you take away all the stuff that are franchises and at the end of the day, it’s just standard operating procedures, or SOPs, on how to do business,” says Chris Loudermilk, who heads the military outreach program for The Dwyer Group® in Waco, Texas. “And that’s something that they’re used to following in the military.” He adds that veterans’ military training can give them a leg up on opening a franchise.

The operations manual must be understood and followed; it must be used as a primary resource when problems develop; and changes to it are welcome though they must be approved by the franchisor.

Successfully running a business is dependent on developing a program for accomplishing all the daily things that must be done to efficiently run the business. These methods can be learned and developed through trial and error, but as a business owner, the error part of this process costs money. With a franchise, these procedures have been studied and developed and are taught to the franchisees. You must simply follow them and ensure that your employees also follow them. This is a big savings associated with owning a franchise that is often overlooked or not considered in the decision-making process. Developing these processes independently is not only costly but can be extremely time-consuming. All of that expense is spread across all the franchisees who buy into a franchise system.

There are other ways in which operating a franchise is similar to military operations. Franchisors often use independent people to coordinate training and operations among franchisees in a group, usually a geographic region. These individuals are called area directors or area developers and they serve the same purpose that a second-level commander might in the military. They see franchise operations from a broader point of view and consider how things like changes the franchisor wants to make to offerings in the system can best be assimilated. They also can be a voice for franchisees to communicate to the franchisor things like the impact the regional economy might have on the unit franchisees. These personnel are charged by the franchisor to increase sales or to improve the speed of operations, and they respond with information to the unit franchisees with suggested means of improvement. Area directors/developers often are required to own and operate at least one franchise unit themselves so they stay in touch with franchise operations at the unit level.

The franchise option is worth considering when making your job plans after leaving the military. Franchising offers a great way for you to go into business while limiting some of the risks involved. Your military background in following protocol makes you well-suited to the franchise business format.

Loudermilk suggests that “the military is the best franchise in the world.”