Daniel Gade, Matthew Haller: Local franchises a perfect fit for separating service members - Open for Opportunity
August 20, 2022 – With more than 700,000 veterans living in Virginia, our great commonwealth must recognize and give back to those who bravely have served our country. According to the Pew Research Center, only 1 in 4 U.S veterans have a job lined up after leaving the military. As a nation, we can do better, and one way is through the opportunities offered by local franchise businesses, which provide our nations heroes with the support they need when transitioning from military to civilian life.No matter who you are, transitioning from one field to another can be challenging. For many, success comes from having a support system. Many entrepreneurs find it virtually impossible to start and keep their businesses afloat due to the lack of access to capital and adequate support from those around them. Unlike someone who owns an independent business, buying a franchised business automatically comes with a known brand, additional resources and support, and an existing playbook to help guide you toward your own success. The franchise model ensures that no small business owner faces the challenges of owning a business alone.Veteran entrepreneurs are uniquely qualified for a career in franchising due to the skills they acquire during their time of service. The military teaches leadership, discipline, teamwork and integrity, all qualities that make excellent employees and business owners. In fact, more than 97% of surveyed franchisors believe veterans make excellent franchisees. Some business owners will even go out of their way to hire veterans and spouses of active-duty military personnel because of their work ethic and commitment to the community.It will be no surprise to many that veterans have a strong track record when it comes to success in franchising. Even though they only make up around 7% of the population, veterans own a staggering 14% of all franchises in America.

Virginia veterans understand the importance of service and bringing a greater quality of life to their families and communities. Veterans leave the military with natural leadership skills and have an inherent understanding of how to share best practices and help each other succeed making them a perfect fit for a career in franchising. Programs such as VetFran through the International Franchise Association Foundation, were created to bolster this unique match — helping both veterans find franchise opportunities and companies connect with aspiring veteran entrepreneurs.

While the success stories of veterans in franchising are many, the story of Virginia’s own Lou Schager exemplifies the unique match of veterans and successful career in franchising.

A long-time resident of Virginia Beach, Schager attended the U.S. Naval Academy and spent 27 years in the Navy. Over the course of his career, he primarily flew F-14 and FA-18 aircraft, including more than 100 combat missions in support of U.S. and coalition forces over Iraq and Afghanistan throughout five deployments aboard aircraft carriers.

In 2016, as Schager was planning his post-military service life, he was introduced to the founders of Mosquito Joe, a Virginia Beach-based outdoor pest control franchise. He quickly discovered how his training and leadership skills acquired during his military service made him a natural fit within the franchise model. Schager’s and many other veterans’ disciplined approach to following processes gives him an edge in the world of franchising, and now as president of Mosquito Joe, Schager has used his position to encourage and motivate his fellow veterans to go into franchising.

For veterans such as Schager, who is now an active leader in the VetFran program, franchising provides the support to start the next chapter after military service and a way to continue serving others. Virginia offers incredible opportunities for those looking to open their own franchise and believes in supporting all those who have bravely served our country. The International Franchise Association stands ready to support them through their journey.

Daniel Gade serves as the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and is a U.S. Army veteran. Matt Haller is the president and CEO of the International Franchise Association in Washington, D.C. Learn more at vetfran.org.