As we take time to thank the brave men and women who served and protected the U.S. this Veterans Day (Sunday, November 11, 2018; observed Monday, November 12) it’s also a fine time to recognize the ones who’ve made the courageous journey into entrepreneurship. When veterans return home from service, many will seek career paths that match well with the experience they acquired in the military.
Year after Year, Veterans Consider Turnkey Small Business Ownership through Franchises
Ninety-seven percent of franchisors surveyed said that veterans are a good fit as franchise owners. Why such an emphatic yes? There are several reasons. First, an established franchise operates on proven systems and standard operating procedures. Veterans immediately recognize these values as mission critical because of how everything is scheduled and structured in military training. And as in the military, successful franchisees lead employees to accomplish missions as a team. “Entrepreneurship is not a solo mission,” said SBA Administrator Linda McMahon in a recent press release. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Owner survey, 2.52 million businesses are owned by veterans. Approximately 2.1 percent of those businesses are franchises.
SBA district offices nationwide hosted National Veterans Small Business Week events during National Veterans Small Business Week, Nov. 5-9. The SBA and local organizations celebrated the accomplishments of veteran, service member and military-spouse small business owners nationwide.
This year’s theme, Our #VetBiz Community, shone a spotlight on various aspects of the veteran business community, ranging from aspiring to current veteran and military business owners, as well as the organizations that provide entrepreneurial training. For example the International Franchise Association’s VetFran initiative provides a $5,000 franchise fee discount, mentorship and training programs to help any honorably discharged U.S. Veteran transition to civilian life.
The SBA encouraged veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses to join the online conversation and share what their veteran business communities looked like by using the hashtag #VetBiz
Small Business Trends connected with three veterans who currently own franchises on the eastern seaboard to hear about their views on franchise life.
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Veterans and Franchising
Small Business Trends: Do you think being a franchise owner could be a good choice for others who’ve served and are exploring career options?
Russ Harlow: Absolutely. With franchising, you are working with a team within a corporate environment, but you still have the freedom to make business decisions. You learned team-building skills and the ability to lead others and execute plans. That is why franchises love veterans because we know how to follow orders. In franchising, it is important to understand it is done a certain way for a reason. Veterans get that, and a lot of us understand the process and can execute how to do it. When you come out the military, franchising is a great opportunity because the process is very much the same as what we have already experienced.
Kevin Adcock: Yes, as long as they understand what they are getting into. It is hard work, but most people in the military aren’t afraid of hard work. I think franchise ownership translates well for most people who were in the military because they are good at following a system and understand hard work and won’t let anything get in the way of their success.
Albert Daniel: Definitely. Coming out of the military you often have the hands-on training that prepares you for what you need to do. The franchise side gives you the whole package for your business so you can open without failing.
Small Business Trends: How has your military experience helped you as a franchise owner? Which branch of the military did you serve in?
Russ Harlow: I joined the United States Army Reserve out of college in 1993 and spent six years as a chaplain’s assistant. In that role, I helped with religious services, provided security for the chaplain’s team and offered support and assistance for other members of the unit. My experience in the military taught me how to be a team player and to take responsibility and be a leader. You also learn how to motivate others and execute a plan. In the military, you understand there are no excuses, and that is the same with business ownership. Responsibility is on our shoulders, and I think most veterans embrace that philosophy.
Kevin Adcock: I spent a total of 21 years in the military with both the United State Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, which included two tours of duty in Iraq. In the Marines, I served as Field Artillery Fort Observer, setting up observation posts on the battlefield and ordering air strikes on the enemy. I later served as a Field Artillery Targeting Technician in the Army, analyzing intelligence and making recommendations to the field operations team. The military ingrains into you a work ethic that most people don’t grow up with. Leadership is also very important. That has helped me educate our young employees and motivate them on how to be successful. It includes teaching them how to be responsible, accountable and how to do the job right. The military provides some of the best leadership classes in the world. I think the military teaches us to understand how a plan can come together and how to execute that plan. In our restaurant, if we talk about a plan and execute it properly, then we will be successful.
Albert Daniel: I spent six years in the United States Navy from 1989 to 1994. I served on the USS George Washington (CVN 73) stationed Norfolk, VA and was part of the crew that built the aircraft carrier. As a Petty Officer in the Navy, I worked in the aircraft support equipment division on the flight deck of the USS George Washington, handling the maintenance and repairs of jets on the ship. My military experience was extremely helpful and prepared me in so many ways. I was taught the importance of having a strong work ethic and doing whatever it takes to get the job done right. All those things I learned in the military.
About the Veterans
Adcock has been a franchise owner of the Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries restaurant in Cheraw, South Carolina since April 2014.
Daniel has owned his Milex Complete Auto Care shop in Frederick, Maryland for the past 11 years. In 2015, he added a Milex/Alta Mere co-branded store in nearby Boonsboro, Maryland that specializes in general automotive repair along with window tinting and driver safety technology. Earlier this year, Daniel was named the Milex Franchisee of the Year for the fourth time in his career.
Harlow is the franchise owner of AdvantaClean of Windham County, Connecticut. AdvantaClean is a light environmental franchise that specializes in indoor air quality and mold remediation. Harlow opened his franchise location in January 2018.
Top image: L-R: Russ Harlow, Kevin Adcock, Albert Daniel