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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

JOBS & EDUCATION

STEP FORWARD

Veterans build successful franchise businesses By Scott Berman

W

HEN MILITARY VETERANS WHO own franchise businesses speak to other veterans contemplating franchising, something tends to happen: The latter tend to “lean in” and listen closely. There is keen interest. That interest works the other way, too: franchise companies have long sought veterans as potential owners. That’s because veterans have “proven to be successful,” said Radim Dragomaca, director of VetFran (vetfran. com), an initiative of the International Franchise Association (IFA). VetFran is a

network of franchise company members offering financial discounts, mentorship and training for veterans. “It’s not just about patriotism and doing the right thing,” Dragomaca said. “It’s also about a recognition, supported by data, that veterans make really good franchisees.” According to a 2014 report conducted for IFA, 97 percent of franchisers surveyed “indicated that veterans are a good fit as franchisees.” Typically, buyers, or franchisees, of franchise stores pay a fee — it may be $20,000 to $50,000 or more, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration — in addition to startup costs. They’re guided through the process with

programs provided by the franchise company, also called the franchiser. Franchisers can offer incentives, including waiving the franchise fee and providing equipment. Nationwide, 6,500 veterans became franchise owners in the past six years, and they are among the 238,000 veterans and spouses who are owners or employees in the franchise industry, according to VetFran. Dragomaca says 14 percent of all franchise business owners are military veterans. VetFran has a directory of more than 600 franchiser companies and Dragomaca stressed that veterans should research companies of interest and their

incentives. He added that leadership skills, motivation and an “entrepreneurial spark” will help vets succeed. Veterans considering buying a franchise should “know the competition, your product and your community well,” said Chanel Bankston-Carter of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. “Those things are very important. But nothing is more important than determination,” she said. “Those first couple of years can be brutal for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for business best practices.” Here are four veterans who have found success in franchising:

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VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017