For veterans wanting to own their own business but also wanting the concept of a proven winning product or service with the strong backing of a corporate parent buying into a franchise system might make the most sense.
No guarantee of success comes with starting a franchised operation but you'll go into the business with a proven business model and lots of support from corporate -- including key training materials.
Is franchising right for you? Beyond reading the advice from veterans who have already made the leap you may also want to read our article Franchising Pros and Cons: Is Franchising Right for You?
Vet-to-Vet Franchising Advice
The advice that follows comes directly from veterans who served in the military and transitioned into the private sector... and who decided the best path for them was buying into a franchise. They are successful entrepreneurs who now share their experiences tips and advice to help you as you consider your franchising options.
None of the lessons given by franchisers are rocket-science but they are proven methods that work and will help you grow your business faster than on your own. The ideas reports and marketing behind Pillar to Post is nothing mind-blowing but it was tested by experts over time and proved to be the best in the industry time and time again. The biggest piece of advice to owning a franchise is to rely on your fellow business owners. It is great when you have markets where you aren't exactly competitors. This keeps an open line of communication and ideas that other business owners in your area are reluctant to give out. Again franchisers already have a successful business model typically based off simple ideas. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." -- Leonardo da Vinci
-- Steve Williamson Certified Home Inspector and Owner Pillar To Post. Army.
Owning a franchise is a really great way to receive a practical business education under the advisement and direction of business professionals whose purpose is to guide you and help you achieve success. There is a comfort level associated with knowing that you have subject-matter experts teaching you and they are helping you to succeed under a system that has been proven to work. Corporate provides a team of subject-matter experts who bring a tremendous amount of experience to the table. For a new entrepreneur this is an amazing education to receive. With a team of experts and an operational system that has been proven to work the franchise model is quite appealing.
We chose to go with Erbert & Gerbert's [Sandwich Shop] for a number of reasons. I have always loved this brand. I was enjoying their sandwiches as a college student in Eau Claire WI and little did I know that I'd eventually be fortunate enough to be a part of the brand. When my husband and I were in a financial position to pursue our entrepreneurial goals this brand still stuck out in our minds as unique and quite frankly delicious. Once we experienced the team of people behind the brand the choice was made. They're truly an outstanding group of professionals. They care about their people and that is a uniquely wonderful thing.
-- Lindsey Gentry owner of Texas franchise Erbert & Gerbert's. Army.
Research is important. I always wanted to run my own business. To me that is the real American dream... to be your own boss. Of course finding the right opportunity and having the necessary capital is a challenge for most. I researched many companies and eventually narrowed my search to Pillar to Post home inspections. Today I get to do what I love most.
To be successful in franchising it's crucial you get involved. Go to networking groups. Seek out other business owners on social-media venues such as Linked In Facebook etc. Join groups clubs and network yourself and your business. This is CRUCIAL to your business. It's also crucial for your own personal development. I have learned more from other business owners than any course you can take. Not that I'm against that either. Take classes. Go to seminars. There are several free ones out there sponsored by many companies to help in these areas. Get INVOLVED in as many things at first and then find the types of things that you enjoy and continue to them.
In terms of the business the best advice I can ever give in this area is BE AVAILABLE. Answer your phone when possible. Say yes for a late-night appointment. Become the expert your client HAS to have on his/her side. Owning your own business usually doesn't have business hours. I'm not saying to never take a vacation because you should to avoid burnout... but BE AVAILABLE when possible. Return calls. Work to achieve great customer service and ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS tell the truth... even if you make a mistake.
-- Edward Robbins Owner Pillar to Post. Army.
If you are considering owning a franchise check out a lot of them and interview your top choices. Talk to the franchisees (past and present happy and disgruntled) and see if you think you will be a good fit with that franchisor and whether it will be a good fit for you. With a franchise you get a lot of support (at least that is my experience with CertaPro) and a proven road map for success. When it comes down to it you are still an independent business owner so there is a lot of risk but that risk is mitigated by the support from your franchisor.
My military experience dovetailed very nicely with a franchise. As an Army leader you are given a path to success when executing a mission/operation etc. You are given the boundaries and restrictions by which you have to operate you know what resources are available what the higher unit's mission and intent are and you are then expected to dovetail your operation to meet those constraints. A franchise basically provides you with the same direction.
Also don't be afraid to jump right into franchise ownership right out of the military -- I know several people at CertaPro who have done this. It isn't rocket science. A high quality franchisor (like CertaPro) is 100 percent vested in ensuring your success and they will give you all the tools you need to be successful. All you have to do is execute the plan -- and that is something that every member of the U.S. military can do very well.
-- Dan Molyneux: Owner CertaPro Painters of Portland and CertaPro Painters of SW Washington. Army.