CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF VETFRAN
By Matt Wiggins, IFA Foundation and the VetFran Committee
For the last 30 years, the IFA Foundation’s VetFran program has been a hallmark of the IFA’s commitment to giving back.
Founded in 1991 by Don Dwyer Sr. of the Dwyer Group (now Neighborly), VetFran has helped thousands of US military veterans find their next step after leaving the military. Over 500 franchise companies offer discounts to veterans on franchise fees, equipment costs and more. Some members even waive their franchise fee entirely in recognition of a franchisee’s military service.
VetFran is led by the VetFran Committee, a group of nearly 30 dedicated franchise professionals. The VetFran Committee strives to ensure that the franchise industry is as military and veteran-friendly as possible, while ensuring our nation’s veterans have access to high quality, tried-and-true franchise opportunities. In recognition of VetFran’s 30th anniversary, the VetFran Committee has offered their thoughts on the importance of the VetFran program to the franchise community.
"The UPS Store joins the IFA in celebrating the 30th anniversary of VetFran. This major milestone demonstrates the franchising industry’s strong support for those who have served in uniform. As a long-time VetFran partner, The UPS Store has helped veterans transition back into civilian life after serving in the military through our franchising opportunities. We believe that some of the skills veterans gain during their time in the military, such as leadership and discipline, translate well to becoming successful business owners. We offer discounts to qualified veterans, active military members and their spouses as a way to express our gratitude for their service. In addition, we’ve launched our “Mission: Veteran Entrepreneurship” program to encourage entrepreneurship among veterans. The UPS Store looks forward to continuing its participation in the IFA’s VetFran program and helping our nation’s service members start a second career after the military."
-STEVE CHAMBERS, Vice President of Franchise and Business Development, The UPS Store, Inc.
"For years, our armed forces have tried to help exiting service members build skills to find a job once they become a civilian. But they have never had much success in showing those same veterans how they could achieve the American Dream by owning their own business.
30 years ago, IFA launched VetFran to help military veterans realize that dream of business ownership through the vehicle of franchising. Not many things in our world today last 30 years but we are proud to report that this initiative of the IFA Foundation is stronger and more robust than ever.
In the last year, VetFran.org has seen a dramatic rise in the number of visits, the number of pages viewed and the number of people who then transfer directly to a franchisor website.
Military veterans make excellent franchisees, and the VetFran program helps bridge the gap between military service and business ownership. Well over 500 companies currently participate in the VetFran program, demonstrating our association’s strong commitment, to ensuring our military veterans are truly honored for their service."
-STEVE WHITE, President and COO, Puroclean, VetFran Committee Chair
"I love franchising, and helping people’s dreams of business ownership come true through franchise ownership is what FranServe Inc. is all about. When I learned of the VetFran Committee and how the IFA built this initiative to help veterans become involved in franchising, I leapt to join the committee! With its 30th anniversary this year, there’s no doubt that veterans love franchising and franchising loves veterans. Both offer a community that feels like a family; and franchise community offers the depth of support that isn’t always available in other industries. Educating veterans in the success rate they have in franchise ownership, discounts that brands offer to veterans, funding programs available to them, and the welcome with open arms that is extended to all veterans, it is without a doubt that being a part of the VetFran Committee is one of my more cherished achievements in franchising! VetFran has 30 years of dedication and success in helping veterans find their next step in their lives — it proves the sentiment of “being in business for yourself, but not by yourself’ that make franchising so strong!"
-ALESIA VISCONTI, President & CEO, Franserve and Franchise Dictionary Magazine
"Veterans leave the military with natural leadership skills and have an inherent understanding of how to share best practices and help each other succeed. Similar to the best run military organizations, Mosquito Joe franchisees are always helping each other and constantly working on advancing their teams to provide their community with the best mosquito control services possible. Embedded in our military veterans is the ability to develop leadership skills, strategic thinking and a disciplined approach to following processes; all crucial skills in starting a new business.
As veterans, franchising is an optimal field because it allows business owners to follow their passions and interests without starting from scratch. At Mosquito Joe, our franchisees are given a proven system to follow and are able to become an important part of their community by providing an essential service — the ideal opportunity for our nation’s heroes."
-LOU SCHAGER, CFE, President, Mosquito Joe
"I have been a member of VetFran as long as I have been President of Signarama. Jim Tatem, my predecessor, told me I would be taking his place and how important it was to be involved with the organization. I did what he advised as I thought it would help the company as a whole, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me personally. I went in thinking it was another board to be a part of, but it wasn’t. VetFran is such an important organization to help veterans not only own their own business but help them find jobs with franchisees and franchisors. To see the impact that we can have on someone coming home by helping them start their own business or get their first job in the private sector is powerful."
-A.J. TITUS, President, Signarama
"VetFran has done an outstanding job the last three decades spreading awareness about why franchising is the perfect career choice for military veterans, and providing them with valuable resources to help them make the transition to this next phase of their life. As a VetFran Committee member, I am also proud of how in recent years we have greatly increased the support we provide our members, particularly the lead generation portal where consumers can find local, veteran-owned franchise businesses. This is a valuable tool and I encourage every VetFran member to promote it to their franchisees. With approximately 200,000 veterans entering the civilian workforce each day, VetFran’s mission has never been as important as it is today."
-JANET HARRIS, CFE, Director of Recruitment, Dream Vacations
"I started my career in franchising with The Sports Section (aka TSS Photography) while I was still in the USMC Reserves following combat duty as a M60 Tank Crewman in Operation Desert Storm/Shield. One of my first sales and subsequent onboarding was a Vietnam veteran who joined us after hearing of us around the VetFran Program… that was in 1993. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the VetFran Committee within the IFA, including two years as its Chairman, earning the pleasure of seeing thousands of new businesses open and careers launched thanks to the program. Fast forward in 2019 and after a career covering nearly 27 years on the franchisor side of the relationship, I launched my California Closets business as a franchisee in the Gulf Coast. My GM is an Army veteran and we have several veterans on our team and as alumni of our business already!"
-JOE LINDENMAYER, Owner & CEO, California Closets Gulf Coast
There are countless stories and memories I can share regarding my experiences with VetFran and I’d be happy to give more of them… new franchisees, managers, supplier partners, mentoring and being an evangelist of the program and the impact it’s had over its 30 years.
Matt Wiggins is the associate manager of veterans affairs for the IFA Foundation. For more information about VetFran, visit vetfran.org.