Transitioning From Military to the Work Force
One of the greatest challenges facing military men and women is the battle that occurs after their service ends and they transition to a civilian life. As a veteran of the Navy I am deeply aware of the challenges involved in that transition. I currently serve as the CEO of HomeTask, a multi-brand franchisor system, but it took many tough lessons to get to this place in my life. In light of the challenges I’ve faced, I’m passionate about helping other veterans walk through the post-military season of their life and I hope that my story can offer some lessons for veterans who are thinking through their own transition.
I proudly served in the U.S. Navy, as a Petty Officer, working aboard the aircraft USS Constellation. I was assigned to the “Cat Shop,” which is short for the Catapult Steam Shop and I was a “Snipe” (Boiler Technician / Engineering). My team provided the steam power to make the ship go and the airmen operated the functions of the catapults and communicated with the aircraft pilots. After I was released from full-time service in the U.S. Navy, I transitioned to full time school and part time work. The reason I chose this path is because I really enjoyed learning and felt that it gave me additional advantage towards future success.
In addition to education I also enjoyed automotive work so I started working on cars. After a few years I transitioned to a position in engineering and later worked for a couple of great companies, the most notable being the time that I spent as an engineer at Intel Corporation. My time in these various roles helped me to understand the business world and learn efficiency through technology, but ultimately these attributes built on the foundation of growth and discipline that I garnered during my time in the military. Military veterans have a great set of marketable skills and a great option for them is becoming a franchise owner, which is part of my story.
I eventually left corporate America in pursuit of my entrepreneurial dreams. It was a much bigger leap than I realized but I leaned on the self-discipline, dedication, and leadership that I learned in the Navy. I ended up starting a business in the home-service industry, called HomeTask, which franchises various brands—the first of which was Yellow Van Handyman. The discipline required to stay alive in the military translates into an ability to stick with the productive action steps required to build a good company. The dedication pressed into members of the military is useful in all of life’s situations. The intensity that I experienced in the Navy has translated into an ability to calmly approach even the most difficult circumstances in life, including business. Success in work and business is more than just being good at what you do. It requires having a stable, balanced life, which includes a healthy home, work, and spiritual life. The integrity that I saw in many people whom I worked with in the U.S. Navy has challenged me year after year to honor the authorities and structures over me, and to work hard within the bounds of the established rules and standards expected in business. These characteristics make veterans a great fit for the franchising world.
One of the most interesting parts of succeeding in business has been the ability to turn around and care for veterans, in much the same way that the military took care of me. HomeTask currently offers a huge discount ($5,000) off of the initial franchise fee. I pushed for this internally for multiple reasons. First, I wanted to honor veterans for who they are and what they have done. In addition, and equally as important, I wanted to be part of the solution for many of our veterans that are working through their transition from their time in service to a successful position where they can serve and support their families and lives. I do not want to see our military veterans coming home to simple, low pay positions, doing menial tasks when they are trained and able to do so much more. Franchising offers this meaningful opportunity for veterans.
If you are a veteran considering which franchise you would really like to own then first think about what it is that you enjoy doing. Do you like to do service work at peoples’ homes or do you like to sell things in a store? Do you like food and the daily rhythm of a restaurant? After finding your passions you then need to consider which one of those you most enjoy and are willing to continue throughout your life. For example, if you own a restaurant, you are probably not going to be the chef. You are likely not even going to work in the restaurant after a while. You will probably end up wanting to own multiple locations and building a team of managers, which means you will be doing a lot of human resources and people work. If that doesn’t appeal to you then you need to look at owner-operator type businesses where you can operate what you own and hire people only as needed.
At HomeTask, we have a mix of these because we offer services. Some of our owners start out operating the business but then they grow to larger operations once they get the hang of the business and see how they can make it grow and increase profits through delegating some of the work. You want to be in a system that allows you a lot of flexibility so you can learn, change and grow as you increase in age, income, and experience. I hope that you will find a similar passion and joy in franchising that I found through my journey. I want to leave you with a compelling top ten list of why veterans are a great fit for the franchising world.
Jerrod’s Top Ten of Why Franchising Fits for Veterans
10) Veterans have a strong ability to know when it is time to work hard but also the ability to cut loose and have a little fun. Having a grasp on both of these areas will keep the mundane from taking over.
9) Veterans are smart people. We figure stuff out without all of the tools we need. We have ingenuity from the experiences we have faced in life.
8) Service personnel are not easily shaken. We are able to endure in difficult times and are able to respond calmly to difficult situations.
7) The military teaches a certain structure that exists elsewhere but is not quite as prominent. It is important to understand a hierarchy because we need to understand where we fit in and what our responsibilities are which helps us to see a clear path to how we can contribute and improve our situation.
6) Veterans do not give up. My mental toughness was stretched well beyond what I thought was possible during my time in the military. This dedication causes creativity where others may crumble in fear.
5) Bootstrapping frugality is the life of many who actively serve in the military. I know I didn’t make enough to even support myself when I was on active duty. When starting a business, we need to be very disciplined to not punch a bunch of holes in our boat (or wheel barrel) that will carry us to the next phase of growth and profit. We do this by bootstrapping our way into that next phase, spending as little as possible, while delivering the highest possible results.
4) The military is a unique environment with lots of structure and many times you are required to do certain tasks in a certain way in order to achieve a certain outcome. This is not always the case with franchising but in general, in order to learn the system, you need to be willing to listen to and take instruction.
3) Veterans know how to work in a team. We know how to get along and we work hard to make each day an enjoyable experience even though some of the work we have to get done isn’t particularly fun. And, that work can often be dangerous.
2) People who volunteer for the military are servers. Franchising is nearly always a serving environment. We’re either serving the customer or an internal team member. Veterans are great in an atmosphere where they need to serve people.
1) The military yields a foundation into people that successfully navigate through a term of service, which results in an uncommon level of self-discipline. This will be extremely helpful to those who find themselves in the franchising world.
Jerrod Sessler is the CEO of HomeTask, a multi-brand home-service franchise system. Sessler is a U.S. Navy veteran, engineer, NASCAR Driver, terminal cancer survivor, and author. He enjoys time with his wife, Nikki, and their three kids as well as serving in their community.
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