How Military Service Prepares You to Lead a Franchise
We often talk about military service in terms of sacrifices made by the members of our armed services and their families, but it's also important to acknowledge the ways in which military experiences benefit our veterans in their post-military careers. As a six-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, I'm able to recognize many ways in which my service experience has prepared me for a career as an entrepreneur and a successful franchisee of a profitable, high-quality preschool.
In training and throughout military service, members of our armed forces learn a core set of skills and values – professionalism, discipline and leadership – that they need to be successful during their military career. These skills also often carry over into whatever they decide to do after their service. Many also get the benefit of specialized job training for the specific role they'll fill during their service, which I consider to be some of the best on-the-job training you can get.
Military experience instills a sense of professionalism that carries over into all aspects of life, including a post-service career. I gained an understanding of how important it is to conduct yourself professionally, which I've instilled in my faculty members throughout my 10 years as a franchisee. It shows up in the ways our faculty members interact with the parents of our students, the way we show pride in our work and the diligent and thorough way we complete each task. Professionalism is apparent in the way we approach all aspects of a job and overcome challenges to ensure success and positive results.
The discipline to follow established procedures is also a major factor that has contributed to my success as a franchisee. In the military, there's a strong tradition of developing the right approach to help each service member succeed and ensure that the next person who assumes the role can succeed. This is also a core principle of successful franchised businesses in the broader sense, as finding the right approach and making it easy to replicate throughout the system gives all franchisees the best opportunity to succeed. It takes personal discipline to focus on my strengths and rely on the franchise system for support in other areas. On a smaller level, it presents itself in the way each faculty member at our school is trained to step in and perform a role successfully and consistently.
Leadership training is a fundamental part of the military experience, and service members continually receive training to prepare them for bigger leadership responsibilities as they move up in rank. The leadership training I completed in the Reserve helped me identify the best candidates, hire the right faculty members and keep my team inspired and motivated to maintain the high-quality education program and service that families expect at our school. I served under a lieutenant colonel who always said that you can delegate authority, but you can't delegate responsibility. That's a life lesson anyone can use, but it's been an especially important attitude to carry into my current role; I can delegate the authority to handle a task, but it’s still my responsibility to ensure things get done. That's something I impart to each member of my faculty.
Beyond those common skills and values learned by all service members, I’m very fortunate to have received specialized training to serve in a logistics division during my military career. It's easy for me to draw parallels between that training and my role as a franchisee. During my time in the Reserve, I was responsible for making sure supplies got where they needed to go and all units got what they needed to function at a high level. My role focused a lot on coordination and management, and that experience aligns nicely with my responsibilities as an entrepreneur and franchisee, such as overseeing maintenance and handling payroll procedures. The specialized roles that service members fulfill instill self-confidence, which gives them the ability to approach nearly any problem or task and do it right, even when it's hard.
As a veteran, I'm grateful for the way the Reserve prepared me for life, and I can see how that experience pays off each day in my role as a franchisee. It's a big reason why Goddard Systems, Inc., franchisor of The Goddard School, actively seek out military vets to become a part of their systems.
Janice Kennedy is an Army Reserves veteran and owner of The Goddard School located in (Northwest) Olathe, Kansas.