Veterans among the greatest franchisors in history
Veterans among the greatest franchisors in history

The military has launched no shortage of careers. There is an infinite number of stories about people that have served in our armed forces that have gone on to influential careers in all walks of life.

And one need not look too hard or too far in the franchising industry to see many influential i.....

The military has launched no shortage of careers. There is an infinite number of stories about people that have served in our armed forces that have gone on to influential careers in all walks of life.

And one need not look too hard or too far in the franchising industry to see many influential industry leaders whose lives crossed paths with military service.

Why might that be?

Could it be that the two are intertwined – that the discipline and repetition of military life lends itself very well with the discipline necessary to create an incomparable concept in franchising?

Probably yes to both.

But franchising offers so many veterans the chance to be their own boss and to take the essence of their experience and implement them in a business setting. Those attributes make it appealing to many that are leaving the service.

But the option to join an existing brand or create his or her own is truly up to the individual.

“If a veteran wants to own his or her own business then, yes, franchising should be a serious consideration,” IFA Project Coordinator and VetFran Manager Kevin Blanchard said. “If a veteran is passionate about something and wants to create a new product or service then they should evaluate the risks involved.”

“In my opinion, there is nothing more respectable than serving in the military and becoming an innovator within the marketplace. However, depending on the individual, it is important to consider if there is a franchise that meets their needs first. It may be more desirable to start their own business, but it’s very possible there is an existing franchise business they may be interested in, and already exists. If there is a franchise business a veteran is interested in then they may decide that executing an existing business is more viable than starting a new one.”

Who might be the most relevant U.S. veterans in franchising history, and how did they get to those heights? The answer mirrors Blanchard’s split paths. Some joined brands that already existed, while others created their own.

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas began his career working in other people’s kitchens before creating his concept. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and wasn’t drafted. He enlisted.

According to the memorial site Legacy.com, “When war broke out, he knew he’d get a better assignment as a willing volunteer, and he wanted to be able to use and develop his cooking skills. He asked to be trained at the Cook’s and Baker’s School at Fort Benning [Georgia], and he went on to serve as a mess sergeant in Germany.”

Coincidentally, Thomas studied under one of the other greats in franchising, Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders, too, was a military veteran. He enlisted, as the story goes, in 1906 – after he falsified his age to gain acceptance. Sanders spent a year in Cuba as a 16-year old and then was discharged, according to his biography.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Founder Jack C. Taylor served in World War II, flying an F6F Hellcat. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Navy Air Medal. And, according to Forbes, named his company after the USS Enterprise, upon whose deck his planes often took off and landed.

Hotel baron William Barron Hilton served the Navy in World War II as well, fighting his way in as a 17-year old. Although he eventually would become an accomplished pilot himself, he was too young to be allowed to fly under Navy rules of the time. He was born into a Hilton family that already had achieved a fair amount of success by the time he came aboard, but grew the family brand significantly during his tenure.

For those veterans that are looking to chart their path and choose a career in franchising, VetFran remains a relevant resource. It offers information that speaks directly to those who have served the country in our armed forces and are now looking for opportunities in civilian life.

“The best way to learn more about getting a franchise through VetFran is by visiting our websites,” Blanchard said. “VetFran.com is a great starting point to learn about the program and our veteran’s initiatives.

“There you will find a toolkit for veterans interested in franchising, which includes a Franchising 101 online course, a finance assessment, a personality assessment, access to the VetFran Mentor Network [and] partner links.”

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