This is a guest blog post by David Miller, CEO, Brightway Insurance.
America is currently in the longest period of war in U.S. history, resulting in a large number of veterans returning from overseas as well as those stationed at home looking for careers once their service is finished. It is important that veterans have stable career options to explore when returning home. Those who fought hardest for our country deserve the best fighting chance at their own secure financial future.
Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy right now.
After serving their country, many of our nation’s veterans are coming home to confront a new battle. Steady employment is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for veterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ release for March 2013, the unemployment rate averaged 9.9% in 2012 for veterans who have served since 2001, whereas the rate for the average American is 2.4% lower, at 7.5%.
Despite these discouraging numbers, veterans are discovering they have what it takes to succeed in business when the right opportunity presents itself. A new trend is becoming increasingly popular in the veteran community, one that allows them to take advantage of skills learned in the military. Many servicemen and women are choosing to go into business for themselves and a very good option is through franchising.
Because starting a business is difficult to say the least, franchising offers a tremendous support system and infrastructure compared to a pure start-up business, hence it has become an increasingly more utilized route for veterans who are interested in entrepreneurship. Franchising provides the opportunity to lead a team to common goals, build relationships in the community, and become financially secure through determination. Not only is it positive for those who served in the military, but franchisors like Brightway Insurance and others trust veterans to have what it takes for success.
Some of the skills of military that translate well to a franchise include:
- Comfortable in leadership roles
- Work well under pressure
- Understand the importance of policies
- Respectful of procedures and rules
- Has a network of fellow veterans
- Works with a sense of urgency
- Accustomed to structure
- Has the knowledge to succeed in a proven system
- Can adjust to transition
- Can manage multiple responsibilities
- Comfortable in a fast-paced environment
For example, Bobby Fazio is a veteran and Brightway franchise owner in San Antonio, Texas, one of several veterans who own Brightway franchises.
“My military experience continues to prove beneficial in all aspects of my life, including my career as an insurance agent and Brightway agency owner,” said Fazio. “My military training has given me an internal drive to not only survive the fierce competitiveness of our industry, but to be committed to win without sacrificing the integrity of my core values. My military background has given me a high level of resilience and determination.”
Along with these value traits veterans share, they have something else in common: a network of other hard-working veterans. This strong support system provides a way for business networking. Bobby Fazio is familiar with this as well, and has had inherently great success from networking through other veterans.
“My networks from the military are some of my best referral sources,” said Fazio. “They are always quick to hand out my business cards and put in a good word for an old friend.”
For veterans just beginning to look into the opportunities of franchising, there are online resources available to help with steps along the way. One of these options is VetFran, or Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative. It is a strategic franchise initiative created by the International Franchise Association to help veterans transition to civilian life.
For Brightway’s part, we encourage veterans by providing up to 100 percent financing of the franchise fee, compared to the regular level of up to 50 percent. This is our way of thanking veterans for their service while recognizing we’ve seen terrific results from veteran franchisees.
David Miller founded Brightway Insurance in 2003. The company has become a leading national independent insurance retailer with more than 100 stores, and its focus on creating the ideal customer experience has resulted in an industry-leading customer retention rate of 93 percent. From 2010 to 2011, sales grew from $108 million to $168 million and rose sharply to $257 million in 2012. Brightway Insurance is an Inc. 500|5000 Fastest-Growing Company, making the list for the last five years.