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Associations Now

A Business Boost for Returning Vets

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, December 2012 The A List

By: Julie Shoop

Summary: The International Franchise Association connects member franchisers with veterans and their families to give them a fresh start on the homefront.

For veterans returning home from service, it's the end of something, and the beginning of something else.

That transition is a challenge for many vets. That's where the International Franchise Association is aiming to help with its Operation Enduring Freedom, a winner of a Gold Award in ASAE's 2012 Power of A competition.

The effort is an expansion of IFA's VetFran program, launched after the first Gulf War to help returning veterans become franchise business owners. A year ago, IFA broadened the program's reach: "What we heard over and over again was that what veterans need most when they return is a job," says Beth Solomon, IFA vice president of strategic initiatives. "Many vets who return may not be in a position to be franchise business owners right away. What they really need is a place to start."

At the heart of the campaign is IFA's commitment to bring 75,000 veterans and military spouses, and 5,000 wounded vets, into franchising as owners or employees by the end of 2014. To get there, more than 500 of IFA's 1,200 franchise company members participate in the VetFran program.

The program takes advantage of a natural affinity between military service and franchising, Solomon says: "Franchising success relies on following a system, following procedures, and excellent leadership and operational skills. Military training has historically translated into franchise success."

One payoff for IFA is that many veterans in the program have become active in the association's advocacy efforts. "They are very powerful messengers in Congress and other government offices," Solomon says.

For the veterans in the program, she says, franchising offers them "a chance to continue serving."

Julie Shoop is VP/editor-in-chief of Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: jshoop@asaecenter.org

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