Returning to civilian life after leaving the Forces can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to thinking about career options.
By Gary Buswell
Not everyone wants to go down the nine-to-five route, but then again, starting your own business from scratch, can be a daunting prospect. This is one of the reasons why franchising is a great option for ex-Forces personnel and why more are looking into it.
What is franchising?
Franchising is essentially selling the rights to trade under a brand name in exchange for a monthly fee or percentage of profits. Many big-name companies do this and franchising is seen as less ‘risky’ than going it alone. Instead, you get to follow a tried, tested and successful business model.
Franchisees pay an upfront fee in return for training in how to run their franchise. They can then access continued advice and support as well as necessary materials to keep things running smoothly.
Why is this a good career path for Service-leavers?
Service-leavers have precisely the right set of transferable skills to make them ideal franchisees. Your life in the Forces will have taught you how to follow tested systems and procedures while at the same time exercising initiative and making critical decisions. Military life also requires the sort of ‘can do’ positive attitude needed to make a business thrive.
Valuable skills and attributes that Service-leavers can bring to the franchising table include: organisational and problem-solving skills as well as the necessary motivation.
It is for these reasons that franchisors actively try to reach out and recruit among Service-leavers. Many Forces veterans have forged successful second careers through franchises.
What sort of franchises are available?
Many industries have franchises available. Big name brands like McDonald’s and Starbucks run franchises, although the start-up fees for the more well-known companies are much, much higher. With opportunities in sectors such as care, health & fitness, property management, automotive services and home improvement, you should spend a bit of time researching options.
Some Service-leavers stick with areas they’re knowledgeable in, others try something new. A list of accredited members of the British Franchise Association is a good place to start:
The first step is deciding on a suitable franchise, the second is securing start-up costs. The good news is that, as far fewer franchise operations fail than other start-ups (only around 4% annually), banks are more likely loan to franchisees.
Most banks have franchise loans available. Other forms of support include the government-backed Start Up Loans Company (which loans up to £25,000), a Royal British Legion Employment Support Grant, or enterprise help from X-Forces.
Once this has been sorted, it’s time to start the training. All the business essentials will be covered – accounting, business plans, marketing, etc. As franchisees trade under an established name, not so much work will be needed for marketing, which many say is the toughest aspect, at least in the early days of a new business.
Then it’s time to strike out alone, albeit with a strong support system in place. For many Service-leavers who have taken this route, it’s the start of a new challenge that can be every bit as rewarding as their Military career.
British Franchise Association
Royal British Legion Employment Support Grant
Tel: 0808 802 8080