Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Top Franchise Opportunities for Veterans

Top franchise opportunities for vets
By Cecilia Hadley - Staff writer

Wednesday Mar 31, 2010 14:11:59 EDT
Prev | 1 | Next What do a pizza franchise and the military have in common? More than you’d think, according to retired Army Col. Kevin Wilkerson, now a master franchisee for Marco’s Pizza franchise in Tulsa, Okla.

Opening and operating a Marco’s restaurant “comes the closest I’ve ever seen to replicating the fun I had in the military,” he says. “It comes close to replicating the complexity of what military folks are used to.”

More and more veterans have been attracted to that opportunity and challenge. More than 1,500 vets have opened franchises through the International Franchise Association’s VetFran incentive program since it was revived after Sept. 11, 2001.

The Best for Vets rankings
Veterans say they find in franchising some of what they loved about the military: varied work, authority, responsibility and the support of a team that wants them to succeed.

And the attraction goes both ways.

Hundreds of franchisers honor veterans — and woo them — with discounts, special programs and even franchise giveaways.

The most common appeal to vets comes in the always-welcome form of cold, hard cash. Nearly 400 franchises offer financial incentives through VetFran; many knock thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars off veteran-franchisees’ initial investments.

Some top that off with additional financial help: For example, JAN-PRO Franchising International, a cleaning services company, offers veterans zero-interest financing. Maidpro, a cleaning services franchise, gives vets a $100-a-month credit for the life of their franchise. And Bark Busters, a dog training franchise, throws in a marketing package worth $6,500.

When retired Army Staff Sgt. Renard Morton bought a Coverall cleaning franchise in June, he received a 10 percent discount off his fee.

Morton likes franchising because it allows him to be in charge.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who likes getting things done,” he said. “When I was in the military, they taught you to get it right the first time, and it’s the same here. I can train my guys to do the same thing."

He’s his own boss, but he also has Coverall’s support, from marketing and supplies to the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship. “They explained everything to me. They said they would always be there. If I didn’t know how to do something, they showed me how to do it,” he said.

Some franchisers even step up their usual support to give extra help to military reservists.

The painting franchise CertaPro Painters will defer financial obligations for deploying reservists. ACFN, an ATM franchise, will put loan payments on hold and help reservists find administrative help for their franchises. And Bark Busters franchisees who have to head to war get help from other dog trainers in the area, who can cover training needs and maintain the good will the reservist developed with clients. A percentage of any income from the reservist’s clientele even goes to the reservist.

Military Times EDGE weighed these incentives with franchise-performance data provided by the independent research firm FRANdata to produce our first Best for Vets franchise rankings: 75 strong performers committed to helping military vets.

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