A military veteran, a former franchise owner and longtime franchise executive, Mary Kennedy Thompson has experienced the transition from military to successful and thriving civilian life firsthand.Mary has dedicated her life to servicing her country in more than one way, and was recently appointed t.....
“This is a topic that is dear to my heart,” Thompson said. “I am grateful to represent a program like VetFran and the service brands at The Dwyer Group that long ago started a true movement to give back to our nation’s veterans in a way that matters to so many. With more than a million people exiting the military over the next five years, our message has never been more important.”
In 1985 she was commissioned as a U.S. Marine Corps officer, where she served eight years and achieved the rank of captain. After service, she went into franchising, becoming the owner-operator of multiple Cookies by Design stores. She then sold her locations and went to work for the corporate department at the franchisor, and was promoted to president in 2004. In 2006, she transitioned and became president of Mr. Rooter, a plumbing service brand under The Dwyer Group umbrella. During her time at The Dwyer Group, Mary has served as two-time chair of the International Franchise Association's VetFran committee.
Mary has seen first hand the difficulties veterans face when transitioning back into new jobs, their families and society. “They are forced to change their entire life, and the unknown is scary,” Thompson explains. “That’s why VetFran is so crucial; we need to effectively guide veterans and give them easy access to a tool to break into this industry. Franchising is the great American dream for veterans.”
Through her new role as Director of Veteran Affairs, Mary’s main goal is to increase veteran hires. Since one in every eight jobs is created by franchisees, there is tremendous opportunity for veterans in the industry. VetFran offers deep discounts for veteran franchisees and The Dwyer Group has given $1.3 million in discounts to veterans overall.
“Veterans go into service because they want to serve, and when they get out, they still have the need to serve their country and help serve others. Military people understand systems, they know how to navigate, follow procedures and lead.” Thompson stated. “That is why they naturally make good franchisees, no matter what level of the military they were in. They’ve had leadership training to help them succeed throughout life.”
Franchising as a whole is great fit for veterans, and service franchises are a natural fit. “In the world of service, workers go into people’s homes all the time, and need to make their customers feel safe. They have to feel and know that person they hired has integrity, and the military instill that in veterans, which is why they fit well in service franchises” Mary said. “Veterans are passionate and don’t mind doing the dirty, tough jobs, that others don’t want to do.”
Mary has made it her mission to help those looking to hire franchisees and to help veterans move from ovation to vocation. “They’ve served their duty, and now it’s time for us to help them.” Vetfran.com is great resource because all who work with the program want to help veterans in every way. They are there to mentor, relate with them and walk them through transitioning back into the real world, without having to ask for help. “We’re here to help you find and model the right path for you to succeed.”