When transitioning to civilian life, members of the military for years have flocked to franchising due to its parallels to life in the military. A playbook, access to resources, and the independence to forge your own path are just a few of the common attributes that make franchising a good fit for military veterans.
Dennis Norris served four years in the Army as an aircraft electrician during Desert Storm and went to work for a large computer company in Houston for 12 years. During that time, he met Arthur Romero, a Batteries Plus Bulb franchise owner, and began placing commercial orders with him. Over the course of four years, Norris watched Romero grow from one to four Batteries Plus Bulbs stores. Through his conversations with Romero, he realized the gap in the marketplace and bought his first Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in College Station, Texas in 2007.
“The military taught me the value of a strong work ethic, patience and tenacity. Franchising provides a good structure, similar to how the military provides a good command structure, and you do things by the book with plenty of support,” said Norris. “In the military, if you don’t know what you’re doing, there is always someone else to help -- the same holds true with franchising. There’s a structure and a manual, and if you get lost, there’s a resource to help you. Batteries Plus Bulbs has figured it out and knows what works, and shares best practices to help franchisees succeed.”
Norris has since opened three more locations in Texas, in Katy (2010), Rosenberg (2012) and Bryan (2014).
“Personally, I needed a franchise system to help me. I could have opened a successful batteries store, but it would have taken me years to make the mistakes Batteries Plus Bulbs has already made and learned from,” said Norris. “Batteries Plus Bulbs gave me the confidence and ability to say ‘when all else fails, do it by the book.’ But as a franchisee, you still have the autonomy to go your own way and try things you think will work for you.”
Another Batteries Plus Bulbs franchisee, Daniel Kopp, served as a Russian interpreter in the Air Force for six years, during Desert Shield / Desert Storm, before buying his first franchise in Overland Park, Kansas in 2007 with partner Scott Neuburger, a former Army Lieutenant in Logistics. Kopp now has ownership in five locations, the two most recent in partnership with his brother, who is also an Army veteran.
“When I came out of the military, business ownership wasn’t on the list right away. I paid my way through college at Arizona State with the G.I. Bill, and landed a job at Sprint,” said Kopp. “Over the years, I got a few promotions and moved to Kansas City to work in engineering, which got me interested in technology. But I wanted more control and a more fun job that took advantage of my management and technical skills. The Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise fit that bill.”
Kopp notes that his fluency in Russian may not directly translate to his Batteries Plus Bulbs location, but highlights that working with a team of people from diverse backgrounds and managing people translates well to small business ownership.
“In the military, you learn self-discipline and you gain confidence, and as a small business owner, you have to do a little bit of everything,” said Kopp. “The military prepared me very well for the everyday chaos of small business ownership. Plus, as a franchisee, you’re not a cog in a big corporate environment, but you’re the leader of a team working toward a particular goal.”
“Batteries Plus Bulbs has a program to encourage veterans to become small business owners, including setting up funding. It wasn’t just waiting for a vet to become interested, the brand wanted to recruit veterans specifically. They held a strategy session about how to proactively recruit vets, which I joined,” said Kopp.
Pam Maloney served in the Marine Corps for four and a half years, as an ammunition tech and an executive administrative assistant in the Commanding General’s office. After she got out, she worked in computer programming and web design, and owned a web design business for a few years. She eventually landed at Batteries Plus Bulbs as Interactive Art Director, and immediately saw how her military background translated into working for a franchise.
“Civilian life is quite different from the military, but the way that Batteries Plus Bulbs conducts their business feels familiar to how things are done in the military. There's a sense of being comfortable with the tasks that you have every day, but also, you want something different every day,” said Maloney. “I've talked to enough franchise owners to know that no two days are alike for them, either. You're learning things constantly and our franchisees are hands-on and have to stay up with the technology. This system feels good to someone coming out of the military.”
Batteries Plus Bulbs’ system is welcoming of military veterans as both corporate employees and as franchisees, with veterans comprising 12 percent of the system, and a $10,000 discount on the franchise fee in support of VetFran. Maloney adds that in the Batteries Plus Bulbs company culture, both franchisees and corporate employees learn to value honor, leadership, time management and teamwork.
“Everyone here is working as a team, and we work very closely with our franchise community and have a great sense of comradery between corporate and the franchise community,” said Maloney. “Franchising provides stability, and a lot of our owners become multi-unit franchise owners because they see the return on investment, and enjoy working with the community and a team of people.”
Batteries Plus Bulbs has been recognized as one of the best franchises for veterans by Entrepreneur, Military Times and USA Today, among others. In addition to the $10,000 discount on the franchise fee, Batteries Plus Bulbs offers comprehensive support and proven processes and systems to franchisees. To learn more about how the Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise appeals to military veterans, click here.