Virginia is for Franchising - Open for Opportunity

Over the course of the summer, the Open for Opportunity Roadshow had the opportunity to make multiple stops in Richmond, Virginia.

Kicking off the first stop, Virginia stakeholders, franchising leaders, elected officials and members of the veterans community joined together over dinner for a discussion on the ways franchising can help veterans transition to civilian life and how as a group we can work together to enable more veterans to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Attendees for the dinner included:

  • Daniel Gade, Virginia Department of Veterans Services
  • Eric Eversole, Hiring Our Heroes
  • Lou Schager, CFE Mosquito Joe
  • Stephanie Brown, Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce and The Rosie Network
  • Michel Zajur Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Ervin Clarke, Central Virginia African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Brian Anderson, ChamberRVA
  • Eric Terry, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, & Travel Association
  • David Ramadan, Ed.D., Noodle
  • Jared Lyon, Student Veterans of America
  • Paul Cucinotta, ZeroMils
  • Eric C. Johnson, VetFran
  • Matthew Haller, IFA

The group left with a greater mutual understand of the unique needs of the veterans community and the ways franchising is a great career match for the skills and aptitude of veterans. In the Virginian Pilot, Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Daniel Gade and IFA President and CEO Matt Haller penned an op-ed on the subject, saying, “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.”

Following this stop, friends from across franchising met later in the summer for roundtable discussions to expand on the work of the initial meeting and dive into how to bring franchising further into the Virginia workforce. The discussion featured Virginia’s own Lieutenant Governor and veteran Winsome Sears. Conversation focused on the relationship between small business and veterans, as well as the importance of local franchise owners showing up and building relationships with their local, state, and federal elected officials. The group raised awareness of the need to educate lawmakers on the policy issues key to franchising, and how the constituent voice will always resonate powerfully with elected officials.

Guests included:

  • Matt Haller, IFA President and CEO
  • Jeff Hanscom, IFA Vice President, State & Local Government Relations & Counsel
  • Winsome Earle-Sears, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Anthony Reedy, Deputy Secretary of Labor for the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Daniel Gade, Virginia Department of Veterans Services
  • Dan Price, BrightStar Care
  • Scott Nowak, Hilton
  • Amy Yemm, Mosquito Joe
  • Brian Anderson, Chamber RVA
  • Ed Kelley, CEO, Capital Restaurant Group
  • Ervin Clarke, Central VA African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Keith Martin, Virginia Chamber of Commerce
  • Jodi Roth, Virginia Retail Federation
  • Hakim Lucas
  • Shiv Patel, Virginia Asian American Store Owners Association

Given the number of military installations in and around Richmond, it’s no surprise that the business landscape has a unique and close relationship with America’s veterans. Earlier in the summer, the Roadshow interviewed Richmond Pure Barre owner Sarah Love on the unique impact of franchising on the veterans community. One of Sarah’s former employees was part of the military and was frequently getting relocated, but each time she settled into her new posting, she found a new Pure Barre in her area where she felt right at home. For this employee, Pure Barre’s consistent brand and technique provided stability and reliability amid otherwise turbulent moves.

The consistency and structure of franchising also spoke to Lou Schager, the Brand President of Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly Company. In his interview with Open For Opportunity, Lou shared his belief that a veteran background makes many well suited for franchising as military inspired leadership skills and strategic thinking are easily applicable in a business setting – and in fact this disciplined approach to following processes gives veterans an edge up in the world of franchising. This aligns perfectly with the mission of VetFran, the IFA initiative to educate both veterans and franchisors about the unique match between the skills and aptitude of veterans across the branches of the armed services. In many ways, franchising and VetFran provide a smoother transition from a public service career into life as a private citizen.

Whatever your background, whether veteran, minority owned business, franchisee, or franchisor – Richmond has made it clear, they’re Open for Opportunity.