Why Veterans Should Consider Owning a Franchise
There are numerous opportunities for transitioning servicemembers to use the skills they acquired during their time in the service. Consider owning a franchise. It could be the right path for you.
By Lt. Col. Ginni Guiton, USA (Ret.)
While every experience is unique, servicemembers transitioning out of the military should expect to experience a variety of emotions. Those not prepared or well-informed are more likely to feel anxious and frustrated the closer they get to transitioning. This is one of the many reasons why our organization, the Military Officers Association of America, is dedicated to assisting those who have served and their families with the transition process.
As a military-focused nonprofit organization, MOAA understands that the best way to help service members successfully enter the civilian workforce is by arming them with the tools and information necessary to give them the confidence to pursue their desired career.
Whether it’s working for the federal government, the private sector, a non-profit, or pursing business ownership, MOAA’s transition experts offer advice through events, one-on-one counseling, education sessions, seminars and publications.
Of the aforementioned career paths, we have found that many transitioning servicemembers do not adequately consider entrepreneurship. While this is a less common career path, it is surprising because veterans are uniquely well-suited to strike out on their own because of their tenacity, resilience, leadership, and passion. Owning a franchise, for example, could be a particularly appealing business opportunity. The mutually supportive relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee can reduce the risk associated with establishing and building one’s own business.
Interested veterans can work closely with seasoned mentors from organizations such as American Corporate Partners. Another helpful entrepreneurship program for transitioning servicemembers is Boots to Business or Reboot for veterans. B2B is an education and training program offered by the US Small Business Administration as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. Another excellent resource is the International Franchise Association’s Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, commonly known as VetFran, which has partnerships with more than 600 different franchises.
General Guidelines for Purchase
If owning a franchise has piqued your interest, here are some general guidelines and ideas to help you decide which one to purchase.
Determine the industry in which you would like to participate. Do you want to own a gym? Cleaning business? Restaurant? Something different altogether? Be sure to evaluate the franchise model as well. Will you have the support you need? Are you okay with the amount of control you would have? This step will help you narrow your options. Although franchises share many similarities, there are also many differences. Choose an industry that interests you, and a model that suits your work style, so you’ll enjoy spending time building this business.
Each new business will take considerable time to build. You should look with suspicion at anyone promising little work in exchange for a huge payout. Getting your business up and running is going to be hard work. However, franchises can be very different in what they require of the owner for both the owner and the business to thrive. What role do you want to play in your business? Are you comfortable filling in when necessary when staff doesn’t show up for work? Would you prefer a more hands-off approach? Do you like to lead others or would you prefer being independent? These are all important questions to consider.
Are you hoping to own and operate more than one franchise unit over time, or just focus on one? Owning more than one franchise unit can reduce overhead costs and increase margins, but this may not be possible in certain industries. Understand what it would take to grow the business model past the initial investment.
Determine the projected net revenue — your revenue minus your costs — across the next several years to decide whether owning this franchise will be sustainable for your family. Look further into revenue to determine what sort of payment structure you would like. Some franchises pay out small amounts of money on a more frequent basis. Others have big payments on an irregular timeline. Analyze your family’s financial structure to determine how you would like to receive the revenue.
Consider the cost of purchasing a franchise, which can vary depending on the company. Make sure you understand all charges associated with the purchase of any franchise. Do not commit to anything until you understand every aspect of the payment commitment and schedule. Get an expert to review the paperwork before signing.
As a franchise owner, you will spend tremendous time and energy building something of significance. Think about passing this business down to your descendants. How is the franchise set up for inter-generational transfer? Understand the laws and regulations. Make sure that not only is your business set for this transition, but also your family. The next generation should know how the business runs and be prepared both for the revenue and the work. Think about this at the beginning to set the framework for this to occur successfully.
The entrepreneurial field contains numerous opportunities for transitioning servicemembers to use the skills they acquired during their time in the service. Consider owning a franchise to see if it is the right path for you.
Lt. Col. Ginni Guiton, USA (Ret.) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years. She has successfully navigated the transition to civilian life by working at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She joined the Military Officer’s Association of America's Career Transition team in 2016 as a program director. For more information on MOAA’s career transition services, visit www.moaa.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.