During the Iraq War, Engy Cox served as a Technical Supply Specialist for a Chinook helicopter unit, managing inventory and supply orders of helicopter parts. Fulfilling her commitment and receiving an honorable discharge following her deployment, Cox set to the daunting task of transitioning to the civilian workforce. While she found a successful civilian career with the Department of Defense, owning her own business was always in the forefront of her mind.
Cox and her husband, Terry, both came from entrepreneurial families and agreed becoming business owners was something they wanted to pursue. When it came time for them to invest, they began to research different business models and opportunities before deciding on Sport Clips Haircuts.
Cox comments, “The IFA’s VetFran program provided a lot of information about veteran-friendly organizations and was a big part of our research phase.”
With an unprecedented number of veterans transitioning into the workforce every year, the International Franchise Association (IFA) is committed to helping ease this transition for our nation’s heroes. Their strategic initiative, VetFran, is a leading source of resources for veterans and veteran spouses entering the franchise industry. By providing access and opportunities in franchising, they are helping veterans leverage their military experience to find success in the civilian economy.
VetFran was originally founded in 1991 by the late Don Dwyer Sr., founder of The Dwyer Group. Wanting to honor returning servicemembers from the first Gulf War, he saw a need in their post military transition. Following 9/11, the IFA initiative was revived and grew to be a leading resource for veterans in the franchise industry.
To date, VetFran includes more than 650 participating companies, all offering financial incentives for veterans. They have helped more than 238,000 veterans and military spouses find opportunities in the franchise industry as either franchise owners or employees.
To be recognized as a member company of VetFran, a brand must be an International Franchise Association member and offer veterans at least a ten percent discount off initial fees. Each member receives a score in a tiered star based rating system. Criteria is based on benchmarks such as number of years in operation, number of stores in operation, and quality of veteran incentives offered. The rating system was established to create member accountability and further help veterans make more informed buying decisions.
Eventually, the Coxes agreed franchising presented an ideal opportunity to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Cox explains, “A franchise system is based on a business model that has proven to be successful. Becoming a franchisee meant we would invest in a system that has already realized success, established a brand, and would provide operational framework we can use to run our units. Basically, we wouldn’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in the operational sense.”
The franchising industry is well-positioned to enable returning veterans become productive participants in civilian economy through business ownership. Franchising provides motivated people with a structured system, centered around teamwork. Many parallels can be drawn between a military career and franchising. Leadership, systemic procedure and teamwork are all essential traits of both endeavors. Like the military, franchising is structured and both emphasize following a system and leading by example.
Furthermore, veterans understand dedication to a cause, are disciplined and have a strong sense of teamwork and commitment. These traits are core to a successful franchise business operation. With experience operating within a system, most veterans have demonstrated their ability to follow and execute a plan for success, making franchisors eager to work with them.
“Over the last two and a half decades, the VetFran program has truly exceeded expectations and brought together two of America's great assets — our veterans and our engines of small business entrepreneurship," said Gordon Logan, a U.S. Air Force veteran and founder and CEO of Sport Clips. Offering qualified veterans with a 20 percent discount off initial license fees and their proven franchising track record has earned the brand a five-star rating from VetFran.
After a year of researching various franchise models, Cox and her husband narrowed their search down to a few franchises that showed favorable growth and franchise satisfaction. Of their final decision, Cox says, “Once we attended the Sport Clips Discovery Day, we became confident that this was the franchise we wanted to select. We experienced firsthand the support and encouragement given by the corporate staff of Sport Clips. Additionally, the company’s involvement and commitment to veteran affiliated associations affirmed our desire to become Sport Clips franchisees.”
Cox, now a Sport Clips multi-unit owner, has some advice for other veterans considering franchising as their next step. “Invest significant time researching the different franchise models and select a business that is aligned with your experience and passion,” she explains. “Talk to current owners and gather information regarding the pros and cons of that business. Investing in a franchise translates to long hours of planning, marketing, motivating, and participating in the everyday aspects of a business. You need to select a business you are passionate about.”
VetFran is honoring our country’s Armed Forces by offering a helping hand to help with the transition into civilian life. They are giving veterans like Cox a chance to take control of their future and make their entrepreneurial dreams become a reality. For this Sport Clips Haircuts wants to recognize their commitment to the veteran community.
For more information on VetFran, click here.