Over the years, the International Franchise Association has launched many initiatives to educate and encourage entrepreneurs about the endless opportunities that franchising provides. One of the most successful programs over the past 20 years has been the VetFran initiative, which has had a huge impact on veterans. With thousands of military personnel returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan to a slowly recovering market, finding jobs for many service men and women has been challenging.
The VetFran strategic initiative was founded in 1991 by IFA Chairman and founder of The Dwyer Group, Don Dwyer, Sr. (USAF, Ret.).It was initially created to support veterans returning from the Gulf War with the transition to the civilian economy. The IFA then re-launched the program after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to help campaign for veterans in a particularly difficult time. The mission has been to create more jobs for military members through small business ownership across the United States and assist them with funding, training and finding a path back into civilian life through franchising.
“One of the biggest challenges our service men and women face when returning home is finding a job,” says Beth Solomon, vice president of strategic initiatives and industry relations for the International Franchise Association. “As we continually improve the VetFran initiative, the IFA continues to look for more ways to provide jobs to all of our country’s veterans.”
What franchisors quickly learned about service men and woman was their uncanny ability to succeed through franchising. Veterans’ experience with leadership, systematic procedure and teamwork all contribute to a high success rate. The franchise model works especially well for military members because of the mapped out business plan and training prior to opening a business. Franchising also allow franchisees to work as a team by sharing best practices and success tactics.
As hundreds of thousands of young men and women return from Iraq and Afghanistan, including many Wounded Warriors, the IFA and franchise industry have launched a new campaign called Operation Enduring Opportunity to hire and recruit 75,000 veterans and spouses, as well as 5,000 Wounded Warriors as franchise restaurant owners by 2014. IFA has partnered with some of the largest government agencies including the White House Joining Forces Initiative, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in this unprecedented recruitment effort. With a majority of U.S. forces returning home starting in September 2012 and all troops expected home by 2014, Operation Enduing Opportunity will provide thousands of job possibilities for military members to get into business over the next two years.
“Since launching Operation Enduring Opportunity in 2011, VetFran has become a more intrinsic part of the International Franchise Organization in its conferences, communications and events,” says Solomon. “As an organization, we highly encourage all franchisors to join in the efforts of IFA and VetFran to encourage job creation for our military members and for our country.”
Today, more than 460 IFA franchisor member companies offer financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans. In the United States, there are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses that provide jobs directly to 815,000 Americans and generate more than $41 billion in GDP. Since 2011, over 2,200 veterans have become team members and franchise business owners through Operation Enduring Opportunity in addition to the 2,100 veterans who became franchise business owners prior to 2011 through VetFran.
“Veterans have a track record of success in franchising even if they are entering in to a completely new field,” Solomon explains. “Because of the franchisor’s proven business model, training, guidance and support, most veterans will find success no matter the industry of choice.”
Veterans interested in franchising can research franchise brands that offer VetFran discounts and are encouraged to seek out successful military veterans in their field of interest. More information about companies that participate in VetFran can be found at http://www.franchise.org/Veteran-Franchise.aspx and at www.VetFran.com.