After serving their country for years and often putting their lives on the line, too many veterans were returning to civilian life with a dream of operating their own business but without the financial ability to get started. Today, more veterans are getting a chance to achieve that dream thanks to the innovative VetFran program launched in 1991 by the International Franchise Association (IFA).What is VetFran?
VetFran is a program that encourages veterans to become franchise owners by offering the financial incentives which help make achieving this goal more feasible. The program is open to all United States veterans and similar programs are available in other countries, including the United Kingdom, for their veterans as well.
The IFA, a trade organization focusing on franchisors and franchisees, implemented the program during the Gulf War as a way of honoring those people who had made sacrifices in order to provide military service to the country. IFA franchisor members can voluntarily join the program and can set their own financial incentives. These incentives vary from reductions in the franchise fee to the waiving of training costs.
Currently, more than 200 franchisors are part of the program and over 600 veterans have taken advantages of these financial incentives to start their own franchises.Financial Incentives Offered
The main idea of the VetFran program is veterans often make effective business owners because of the discipline and leadership they gain from the military. For this reason, franchisors offered financial incentives to entice veterans into entering the franchise field. Again, these financial incentives do vary but some examples are below.
Baskin Robbins, for example, offers veterans a 20% discount on the initial franchise fee. Normally, that fee is $30,000 so veterans save $6000. That could easily make the difference between a veteran being able to afford a franchise and viewing it as out of his or her league.
Another example is Midas. Their initial franchise fee is normally $20,000, but for veterans through the VetFran program Midas will reduce that fee by $5,000. Again, that's a significant amount of savings.
Not all financial incentives involve a discount on the franchise fee, however. Matco Tool offers a different incentive. For veterans looking to start a Matco franchise, the company offers up to $5,000 towards the purchase of tools.
All of the other franchisors involved in the program offer similar financial incentives to assist veterans in getting their franchises started.Other Veteran Programs
Veterans who want to become entrepreneurs can also participate in the Small Business Association's (SBA) Veterans Business Outreach Program. Through this program, veterans can take part in workshops, can get assistance writing their business plans, can work with a mentor, and can receive additional training and counseling at no cost.
Because the SBA, along the Department of Veteran Affairs, works closely with the VetFran program, these services can further assist veterans in establishing a successful foundation for their franchise.
Additionally, each state has at least one SBA representative for the Veterans Business Development who can provide more assistance and can steer veterans towards additional resources that will help them determine if a franchise is right for them.