VetFran: Helping Veterans become Job Providers
By Joe Lindenmayer, VetFran Committee Chair
VetFran was founded in 1991 as a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association (IFA), and is built upon the foundation of helping Veterans find careers in Franchising. VetFran includes over 650 IFA member companies that offer financial incentives, training, and mentoring to veterans interested in franchise ownership and/or a career path in franchising.
VetFran was founded in 1991 by the late Don Dwyer, Sr. (USAF, Ret.), founder of The Dwyer Group and former IFA Chairman, to support veterans returning from the Gulf War as they transitioned to the civilian economy. Don wanted to find a way to help Desert Storm Veterans be recognized, and to give back to them for their service. VetFran started with brands offering financial assistance or a discount on their franchise fees, and has since grown into job training and mentoring, partnerships with suppliers, and many other business start-up resources and educational components to help Veterans learn more about business ownership and careers in the franchise industry. VetFran builds more than businesses – VetFran’s mission is to help Veterans not only provide for themselves, but to ultimately be a job provider to other veterans and patriots of all types.
In 2011, Operation Enduring Opportunity was launched with the support of the White House Joining Forces initiative, MOAA, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others.
For this unprecedented recruitment effort, VetFran set a goal of hiring 75,000 Veterans and Wounded Warriors in franchising, and helping 5,000 Veterans own their own franchise. Just 2 years into the 3-year goal, these numbers were far surpassed – with nearly 150,000 jobs being created for Veterans and over 5,000 new franchises opened by Veterans.
According to a recent study conducted for the IFA Educational Foundation based on U.S. Census data, one in seven franchise businesses are owned and operated by veterans of the U.S. military. More than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses in the U.S. directly provide jobs for 815,000 Americans, and generate more than $41 billion in GDP.
Why Veterans are so Successful in Franchising
- Veterans return from service with strong leadership skills and a thorough understanding of teams. Military experience includes leading and motivating others, improving processes, and accomplishing a defined mission. Similar to the military, successful franchisees and employees accomplish the mission with a team.
- An established franchise business operates on proven systems and defined procedures. Executing systems and following procedures with precision is emphasized in military training, and leads to success in franchising.
- Franchises provide training. The military has extensive training and teaches very specific skills used to carry out very specific tasks. Franchises also have comprehensive training and support built into the franchising process. This means a veteran can enter into a completely new field and be more likely to succeed by following the franchisor’s proven business model and completing the training program.
- Franchises are team-orientated, for which he or she is part of a larger system that is focused on a collective mission larger than him or herself. You’re in business “for” yourself, but not “by” yourself.
The 2014 launch of VetFran.com helped bring more resources and information to the forefront. There are resources, ideas and stories about how VetFran can help the men and woman who have served this great county participate in the American Dream. With the assistance of over 600 IFA member companies, countless hours of dedicated volunteerism and the efforts of those great volunteers who serve on the VetFran committee and support the programs and partnerships VetFran has established, the program has made amazing advancements.
VetFran has received numerous awards and accolades from such prestigious organizations as the US Chamber of Commerce, the White House and major media outlets just to name a few. However, this work isn’t done to be recognized with a pat on the back. The objective is to see a Veteran who has honorably and faithfully served their country, have their country do the same for them and their family.
VetFran continues to set the stage for a new generation of entrepreneurs and letting all future Veterans know that their country thanks them, and that this is just one more thing worth fighting for.
Joe Lindenmayer is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served in the Persian Gulf War as a tank crewman, and has been Chair of the VetFran Committee since 2013. Joe is also President of TSS Photography, a 230-unit franchise business in the Youth & Sports Photography industry, and can be reached at Joe@TSSPhotography.com.
For more information about the IFA and franchising in general, visit the IFA’s website at franchise.org.