Home Franchise Concepts Co-Founder, Todd Jackson, identifies ways to experience success in welcoming U.S. military veterans into franchise families in an article written for Franchising World Magazine below.

A franchisor is only as successful as the individual franchisees across its network — those men and women who wake up every day full of ambition, creativity and the willingness to succeed not only for themselves, but for the system as a whole. It’s those key players who help to unlock the vast potential that our systems hold regardless of their size and stature.The challenge for us as franchisors is unearthing new candidates who possess these inherent qualities that so often cannot be taught. How and where do we find them?

 Attracting Quality Candidates

At Home Franchise Concepts, we’ve recognized that even more important than increasing the number of franchisees across our networks is the quality of those candidates we are welcoming into the fold. Equally as important is our realization that our existing franchisees have an invaluable amount of knowledge that can assist in attracting these quality candidates.Over the past 23 years in the industry, I’ve learned a number of important lessons in recruiting quality franchisees into our family. These lessons will help you identify ways that you, too, can experience success in welcoming U.S. military veterans into your franchise families.

  •  Lesson One is simple in theory and extremely important in execution: Give back in a meaningful way. Our servicemen and women have tirelessly risked their lives for our freedoms and ask for little in return. Discover ways that your network can give back and don’t let the size of your organization stop you. Whether you have a network of 20 or 200, develop partnerships and opportunities to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who have protected our freedom.

In late 2014, we began a three-year relationship with national non-profit Homes for Our Troops. HFOT builds specially adapted, mortgage-free homes for military veterans who have been severely injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Budget Blinds is helping to make these homes safer and more comfortable by donating and installing window coverings in every HFOT home built across the United States over the next three years.We’ve also begun a similar relationship with Canadian non-profit, Wounded Warriors, to raise funds for ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces service members.  Wounded Warriors provides a diverse set of services and programs for military veterans such as post-traumatic stress disorder dog services, veteran transition and equine therapy. The partnership is a great way for our Canadian franchisees to extend the brand’s philanthropic efforts into their home country.

  •  The second lesson: remove barriers for veterans to become a part of your organization. The transition from military service back into the civilian workforce can be challenging enough on its own, so what better way to attract veteran candidates than by simplifying the process?

Terry Matz of North Carolina served as a clinical social worker in the U.S. Army for nine years. She also spent time in Iraq. Matz joined our franchise family in 2014 through our Million Dollar Franchise Event, which provided a discount of $35,000 on her initial territory fee.  This offer was a large contributing factor when she began looking to own her own business. Since the program was created, we have given away more than $890,000 in discounts to 28 military veterans that have become Budget Blinds or Tailored Living franchisees.Although your organization may not have the financial flexibility to give away $35,000 in discounts to potential veteran franchisees, every little bit counts. Develop a program that piques their interest and grabs their attention; half the battle is getting your lead in the door.

  •  The third and final lesson: keep innovating. As the business landscape changes and jobs seem to become more prominent than careers, it’s important to remain relevant, and to invent new ways of attracting top talent. Look outside your organization to groups and associations that share similar values. With an ever-growing number of franchisors to compete against, decide what it is that will set you apart and work with those who can complement your brand and its vision.

We have a number of outstanding franchisees who continue to push the envelope, 10 percent of whom are military veterans. In 2015, we began work on a new program that will share this group’s knowledge with incoming veteran franchisees entering our system.For example, Cedric Cook is a franchisee serving Fulshear, Texas. Prior to joining us in 2014, he maintained a thriving career with IBM Corp. where he helped lead a veterans’ mentoring program with American Corporate Partners. Today, he is helping our corporate team develop our own proprietary veteran mentor program. Our hope is that this program provides a unique learning opportunity and foundational support system for those military veterans interested in starting their career with our system.Most would say giving back to military veterans is extremely important, and we would agree. However, the most unique part of giving back to military veterans is what we’ve received in return from having them in our family. They have become a part of the fabric of our brand that we know will continue to grow in the years to come, because what matters is quality.In 2013 alone, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that of the 722,000 unemployed veterans, 60 percent were ages 45 and over. Thirty-five percent were ages 25 to 44 and 5 percent were ages 18 to 24. This presents a huge pool of candidates looking for opportunities where they can utilize their military skillset in the civilian workforce. Chances are that a majority of these military veterans are not only looking for a job, but rather a long-term career opportunity where they can become their own bosses.

Todd Jackson is the co-founder and chief operating officer at Home Franchise Concepts. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.