Leaving one career behind for another is often an adventure mixed with challenges for virtually everyone. Military veterans, especially, face a complex set of circumstances when they return to civilian life and seek to enter the workforce. To assist veterans with business ownership aspirations, hundreds of franchises offer special incentives under the VetFran program.
VetFran is the brainchild of Don Dwyer Sr.—the founder of The Dwyer Group of franchise brands. Originally called Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, VetFran was first established to assist veterans of the first Gulf War in the early 1990s.
As Chairwoman and CEO of The Dwyer Group, Dina Dwyer-Owens — daughter of the late Don Dwyer — elaborates, “He was an army veteran and he believed that those of us in franchising should be doing something to say thanks to the men and women of the military who protected our free enterprise system and help them live the American dream.”
However, the initiative gradually declined in the late 1990s due to a lack of consistent support. The program was re-established after 9-11, with the International Franchise Association (IFA) taking a large part in its renaissance, and has flourished since.
VetFran boasts the participation of over 500 franchise systems that offer special financial incentives and other means of support to military veterans—including in some cases family members of veterans. Under the program several franchises offer a discounted franchise fee and some franchises, such as Little Caesars, waive the franchise fee entirely in certain circumstances.
The combination of veterans and franchising has proven to be a successful one. In fact, one in seven franchise locations is operated by veteran franchise partner. Through VetFran, over 4,000 veterans have become franchisees and around 60,000 veterans have found employment in franchising.
Why is the combination so successful? While at first glance they seem totally dissimilar, the foundations of military service and franchising share similar building blocks.
Both are based heavily on following pre-determined plans (the system) and the ability to work well with others in pursuit of a common goal. The discipline, work ethic, and leadership skills that are prevalent in military service are absolutely well suited to running a franchise.
Franchises also experience benefits when hiring veterans as employees. Not only is it a positive way to support the economy and social infrastructure as well as give back to those who have given a great deal, but veteran franchisees strengthen franchise systems through their distinctive talents and dedication.
To solidify the link between veterans and franchising, Operation Enduring Opportunity— a spinoff of the VetFran initiative — was established in 2011. The program’s focus is enlightening veterans and their family members on opportunities in franchising they may not have considered and connecting interested parties with the resources that will best facilitate their career move into franchise management.
To learn more about VetFran and view the complete lists of participating franchisors and suppliers, visit the VetFran homepage. You can also check out franchises that are a part of the VetFran program here, or watch several franchisors talk about the VetFran program in this video.