A Veteran Franchisor’s Advice to Veterans Looking to Own a Franchise
Let’s not kid ourselves. There really is no comparison between daily military life and that of a franchise owner. Yet for veterans who buy a franchise, many things that served you well as a soldier will also help you to be successful with your franchise.
Obviously, what kind of franchise you buy dictates much of that. There are several franchise opportunities that you can run as a “solopreneur”. Others require staff. Either way, you will want to establish a chain of command and determine how hands-on you want to be. If you do have a staff, develop a system of delegation so the bulk of your time is working on the business rather than in the business.
As in the military, training is key. Seek out and absorb all the training your franchisor offers and then some. If you have staff, make sure they receive the proper training as well.
Consider your franchisor as HQ. Keep an open line of communication with your franchisor. Ask questions and seek help when you need it. Similarly, seek out counsel of your fellow franchisee foot soldiers—other franchise owners who have been through it before and can offer their insights.
A big part of military life is structure and that is typically based on a schedule. Similarly, you can employ structure into your franchise operations. The schedule you create will depend on the type of franchise.
For example, our franchise publishes tourist maps. So, part of our franchisees’ time is spent selling, another part working with advertisers on their ads, yet another coordinating with our graphic designers on publishing the map, etc. So, there are a few tasks in play, including administrative tasks associated with any business—invoicing, paying bills, etc.
What most of our franchise owners do is tailor their schedule to fit their lives. That’s on a daily and seasonal basis. There’s a selling season where owners are looking to attract new business and re-sign current advertisers for an upcoming edition. Then there’s a production season, which might not be as demanding.
During the selling season, a franchise owner might set up sales calls around their children’s school schedule—9 am to 3pm. Or somebody with different lifestyle demands might schedule two or three mornings a week for sales calls. Mornings the rest of the week would be spent on follow up and administrative tasks. While everybody’s schedule might be different, the important thing is to have one and maintain the discipline to stick to that schedule.
Of course, setting and sticking to a schedule becomes even more important in a brick-and-mortar operation where you have staff coming in at certain times followed by customers or clients. Then it becomes a matter of establishing a schedule of activities for staff and adhering to that schedule. This is in addition to setting a schedule for what you need to do during the course of the day.
For veterans, adhering to schedules and duties is not new territory—just different details and circumstances.
As we mentioned earlier, if you have staff, it’s imperative to train them accordingly so you can delegate effectively. As the franchise owner, if you are a hands-on presence, you will find there are not enough hours in the day, days in the week, etc. The military practice of delegation will serve you well in running a franchise as long as you provide your staff with the appropriate training, mentoring and empowerment.
If you are a solopreneur franchise owner, the workload can mount if you’re not careful as well. Many solo franchise owners will hire a virtual assistant or outsource their bookkeeping and accounting work to help them focus on the activities that are key to business growth.
Delegation will be key for this next piece of advice—scheduling R&R or time off. Being a franchise owner can be all-consuming. Your initial energy and enthusiasm will carry you for a while, but you will need to budget some time off and set up your organization so you are not working seven days a week. Similarly, keep an eye on your staff for signs of overload. Your staff is an integral part of your success and they, too, will need some time off.
As a veteran, you bring a distinct set of skills to a franchise opportunity. The beauty of the franchise model is that you have a road map to follow while having the flexibility to run your organization in a way that emphasizes your strengths. It really is a nice combination.
Peter Hans has served as the President of Discovery Map International since 2005. In addition, he is a member of and has had an interest in Flagship Associates, LLC, which is a Vermont limited liability company and real estate holding company in Waitsfield, Vermont, from July 2003 to the present as well as being a managing member of Berkeley Holdings, LLC, a Waitsfield, Vermont limited liability company and real estate holding company, from June 2007 to the present. In 2017, Hans became a partner in Discovery Map POI, a franchisor of map locations across Slovenia and into neighboring countries across Europe.