By Detra Fitts, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning


Accustomed to following a structured system that values training, discipline and commitment to achieve an overall goal, veterans transitioning from military to civilian life tend to look for entrepreneurial opportunities that will enable them to follow a similar program, like that of franchising.

No matter where veterans come from, their experiences are alike and go hand-inhand with the franchise model.

 Following the pandemic, American entrepreneurship has been on the rise. As the jobs of many were disrupted by closures and shifts in the economy, opening a business and one that was essential to society appealed to many people, including veterans. The number of veteran franchise owners and staff has continued to trend upward. According to the International Franchise Association, 14 percent of franchisees are veterans and they are more likely to hire other veteran employees with similar backgrounds and work ethic. The surge in veterans joining the industry is not surprising though. No matter where veterans come from, their experiences are alike and go hand-in-hand with the franchise model.

Before joining One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning as a marketing manager, I was in the U.S. Army for 24 years. I joined right out of high school as an 18-year-old that was not ready to follow the traditional four-year college plan but was interested in being a part of something bigger with people from different walks of life. During the three years in active duty, I learned more than what I could have anticipated. I followed a strict code of conduct, learned to work with others in tough situations, was taught to adapt and pivot when things don’t go as planned, and much more. The list of what my military experience taught me while on active duty and in the Army reserve goes on and on. When I felt ready, I was also able to further my education and got an MBA in marketing — at no cost.

The best part of having this background is that I have been able to apply what I learned to my day-to-day life ever since — both personally and professionally. In marketing, we are working with franchise owners from across the country that have different experiences and are joining One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning for varying reasons. There are franchise owners that have been in the family business for years and are ready to take it to the next level by converting and franchising with a nationally-recognized brand. We also have scenarios where entrepreneurs have no background in the heating and cooling field but want to be a part of this thriving industry, one that’s become more essential than ever and historically has navigated economic uncertainties better than others.

Engaging and interacting with these owners is where my ability to adapt plays its biggest role. The “one shoe fits all” approach doesn’t apply here. I have to be able to adjust how I speak about marketing, the support we provide to franchisees, and how owners can continue to market themselves post opening. Adaptability was a key component of everyday life in the military and it contributed greatly to the success of our missions. As in my current role, franchise owners must be able to pivot and be strategic about how they approach changes in the economy, their business, or consumer demands. It’s that adaptability that veterans are already accustomed to that makes a big difference in their success as entrepreneurs.

As in my current role, franchise owners must be able to pivot and be strategic about how they approach changes in the economy, their business, or consumer demands.

 The franchise industry also encourages veterans to work with other veterans, and that is something that is near and dear to me. Having been in Army for more than two decades, I have worked with hundreds of soldiers and there is a unique camaraderie that never fades away. To this day, I have the pleasure of connecting with and mentoring veterans, specifically owners of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning franchises. Through our discussions, we talk about our own experiences and ways we can continue to make an impact in our communities. I encourage them to join local chapters, talk to other veterans in their towns, and promote their franchises as being veteran-owned through marketing materials or word of mouth. Veterans want to work with veterans and it is a special bond you will share with other men and women for the rest of your life.

As more Americans turn to entrepreneurship and franchising, I am confident that we’ll see veterans become a core group fueling the growth of this industry. The military trains men and women to become extraordinary folks that are resilient and trustworthy — traits that can set veterans up for success as franchise owners and staff. And as franchisees, veterans have the incredible opportunity to continue to give back to their communities by connecting with others that need the support of someone like them and providing career paths that align with the skills they gained through their time in the military.


Detra Fitts is the marketing manager for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and is a U.S. Army veteran. She has dedicated her career to supporting and giving back to military men and women. For more information about IFA franchisor member One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, please visit