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Franchise Ownership: A Three-Part Series Do You Have What It Takes?

When Herv Breault retired from the Army in 2010, after 25 years of service, an interesting opportunity knocked on his door. Several veterans with whom he had served approached him to become a partner in a franchise they had started.

That franchise is Philly Pretzel Factory. Today, having pooled their money and talents, Breault and his six partners have three locations in Lebanon and Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and are considering what other ventures they may take on together in the future. 

What exactly is a franchise? According to the Small Business Administration, a franchise is a business model that involves one business owner licensing trademarks and methods to an independent entrepreneur. Usually they either sell the rights to own a name or trademark, which is product/trade name franchising or they sell business formats, which may include services such as location selection training, supplies, marketing plans and more. 

“Owning a franchise is a ready-made opportunity for veterans,” Breault said. “The corporate structure is similar to military units. At certain levels, units have “shops”. There is an IT shop, a marketing shop, a logistics shop, etc. With this franchise, corporate has those for us to take advantage of too.”

Owning a franchise also means you don’t have to start from scratch, but you do need a level of self-awareness to decide if you have what it takes: personality traits, skills and funding.

Personality traits

Willingness to learn. The best way to understand how to run a business is to learn as much as you can about it on an ongoing basis. Potential franchisees should look for knowledge in every nook and cranny of their world to learn about the business side, the industry aspects, financing, etc. 

“I spent a lot of time talking to my future partners about what we would be doing and where we were trying to go with this,” Breault said.

Would-be franchisees should also talk to franchisors and customers; read business and trade magazines, websites and books; seek the advice from the Small Business Association and veteran counselors, and sign up for a few courses to strengthen your business skills. 

Ability and willingness to follow the plan. “These businesses are created by someone else who has already worked out the kinks,” said Scott Lehr, senior vice president of US international development and conferences at International Franchise Association. “If you are a person who doesn't like to follow systems, you are probably better off with starting an independent business.”

Judy Scott, franchise sales director for the Zoo Health Club urged new franchisees to stick to the system that’s already in place. When asked in an interview for Franchise Direct, what is the number one mistake new franchisees make she said, “Not following the system - buying the franchise and thinking they know more than the franchisor.”

Professional skills

“Franchisors like candidates with management, communication and marketing skills, so they can go out and meet with people,” said Lehr.  “A lot of time they will teach franchisees what they need to know in terms of the hard skills of the business, like printing or home care.”

These skills, especially communication and marketing will also help franchisees network in order to build relationships with customers, staff, and the franchisor so they can grow their businesses. Management and communication skills enable them to effectively teach employees the business, delegate work and ask for help.


“Money is always an issue with any start up business. A franchise could take as little as $30,000 to as much as a million,” Lehr said. “A higher cost business usually indicates there is real estate and or equipment attached,” he added (full-service restaurants and hotels). “Lower cost businesses generally include home based businesses, commercial and residential cleaning and trucks that provide services” (like plumbing, electric, lawn care or pest control).

Lehr recommends looking into VetFran, an initiative to help veterans get discounts on the businesses. Almost half (660) of its member companies are involved in providing discounts to veterans. It has brought 238,000 vets into franchise community, 5,600 of which are new franchise business owners. IFA’s website, contains additional listing for funding sources.

“Luckily, Philly Pretzel Factory didn’t expect a king’s ransom (to buy the franchise) they offer veterans a reduced rate,” Breault said. “People think franchise owners must be wealthy, but that’s not true. Shop around to get the best loans and funding sources.

Read Part 2: Do Franchise Owners Really Need a Business Plan next Monday

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