The best franchise opportunities for veterans in 2023
Transitioning into civilian employment after serving in the military can be a daunting prospect, even for the most battle-hardened soldier. When evaluating options post-discharge, franchising probably isn’t the first employment option that comes to mind – but this business model can be a great opportunity for veterans looking to apply the skills they’ve learned while earning a living and helping to grow the communities in which they live.
In this blog post, we’ll look at:
- Why franchises are great for veterans
- What veterans should look for in a franchise opportunity
- Business resources for veteran entrepreneurs
- The top 10 franchise opportunities for veterans in 2023
Let’s jump in.
Why are franchises great for veterans?
According to VetFran, a group that connects veterans with franchise opportunities, 14 percent of franchise owners are veterans; in turn, those owners are more likely to hire veteran employees. This number continues to grow, primarily because veterans leave military service with a unique set of skills that is almost ideally suited to the franchise business model.
Being a franchisee requires the ability to adhere to a predefined set of systems and procedures while also motivating a team to accomplish a defined mission. Also, new franchise owners are expected to absorb, retain, and execute the specific processes taught to them in training. These skills are (quite literally) drilled into every member of the armed services and put veterans in a strong position to succeed in franchising.
What should veterans look for in a franchise?
When evaluating franchise opportunities, owners and investors with previous military service should consider the following factors:
- Return on investment (ROI): The cost of purchasing and building out a new franchise location ranges from $200K to more than $700K – but the ROI on some franchises can average from 30 percent to as high as 200 percent.
- Growth: The potential for growth is a vital factor in ensuring the long-term success of a business. Look for a franchise with room to grow as your business succeeds and evolves; a strong record of annual growth is a good indicator of sound investment.
- Leadership: The main pillar of a strong business is its people. When evaluating a franchise opportunity, look beyond the numbers; get to know the leadership team and explore their partnership approach. As a franchisee, you’ll work closely with brand leaders, so be sure alignment is there before investing.
- Sustainability: Sustainable brands are more attractive to consumers – and thus, more successful in the long run. Sustainability can lower costs and add resiliency to your supply chain, so look for a brand with a strong track record of sustainable practices.
- Recession- and pandemic-resistant: The last few years have been a proving ground for business owners. Franchises historically perform well through major global events like recessions and public health crises. Look for opportunities in recession-resistant industries that provide essential services such as health care, personal services, home and auto repair, education, etc.
- Manageability: Good systems and management models are a cornerstone of franchise success. Review the business model and evaluate it against current economic conditions, employment numbers, and your ability to run and scale the business. Look for options that align with your lifestyle and capabilities.
- Veteran-specific benefits: Many companies honor those who have served our country with special perks for veteran franchisees. These can include substantial discounts on the initial franchise fee, special financing options, and product credits, among others. When evaluating potential franchises, it’s a good idea to research these benefits, and a trusted resource for this is VetFran.
One point to remember: Even though veteran discounts can provide a great incentive, don’t exclude brands from your search simply because they don’t offer a discount, as they could still be a great fit for you.
Business resources for veteran entrepreneurs
Government and nonprofit entities have an interest in promoting business development and an interest in helping veterans succeed in life after the service. These resources can offer mentorship, training, and financing options for veterans building a franchise business. Local businesses may also have resources available to residents.
The Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers resources and specialized financing opportunities for U.S. residents interested in starting a business. The SBA may have veteran-specific options to help veteran entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. To learn more, contact your local district SBA office or the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program for more information.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA offers services and support to active and retired military personnel through health care, services, and specialized programs. The VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) offers specialized services and certifications for veterans and their businesses. You can learn more about the OSDBU through its website.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides free business counseling and mentoring to small businesses. It comprises more than 11,000 volunteer business professionals with extensive experience in finance, marketing, and operations. SCORE mentors help entrepreneurs develop business plans, offer guidance on securing financing, advise on marketing strategies, and share best practices for growing a successful business. The group provides a variety of veteran-specific training and resources.
Best franchise opportunities for veterans in 2023
Consistently named among the top franchise brands by Entrepreneur and Franchise Times, AlphaGraphics has been providing B2B visual marketing services for over 50 years. It was the first U.S. printing/marketing company to offer international franchise opportunities and provides a highly scalable model that emphasizes its extensive brand history and a wide variety of services.
- 20% discount on new owner initial franchise fees for veterans (and minorities)
- Locations: 237
- Founded: 1970
- Franchised: 1980
- Startup cost: $75K–$150K
- Total investment: $285K–$369K
Blue Moon Estate Sales
Based in Cary, North Carolina, Blue Moon Estate Sales specializes in residential and commercial estate liquidation services. Its clients typically face the daunting prospect of downsizing, moving, or selling a loved one’s property, and Blue Moon steps in to provide pricing strategies, staging services, and marketing. Franchise owners receive rigorous ethics and sales training and can leverage the company’s online estate sale directory and customer rewards program.
- 20% off the franchise fee for qualifying veterans
- Founded: 2009
- Franchising since: 2013
- Locations: 92
- Startup cost: $41K–$85K
- Total investment: $54K—$100K
Cinnabon bakeries might be small, but their delectable treats have developed a massive fan base. The cinnamon bun company is part of the Focus Brands family, which includes other popular brands like Carvel, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Jamba, among others. Franchisees can expect extensive support, including management training and real estate selection, as well as competitive pricing from vendors. Owners can co-brand locations and take advantage of cross-marketing opportunities.
- $10K off the initial franchise fee for qualifying veterans
- Founded: 1985
- Franchising since: 1986
- Locations: 850
- Startup cost: $233K–$547K
- Total investment: Information not available
Express Employment Professionals
Ranked the number-one staffing franchise by Entrepreneur, Express Employment Professionals is a staffing and recruiting agency dedicated to pairing qualified candidates with jobs they love. The staffing industry is particularly strong and recession-resistant, and Express works to boost franchisees’ chances of success with back-end support and further education. In addition, the company’s payroll processing and funding are handled through Express Employment headquarters.
- 50% off the initial franchise fee
- Founded: 1983
- Franchising since: 1985
- Locations: 791
- Startup cost: $40K
- Total investment: $100K–$220K
One of the biggest players in a $29 billion industry, FASTSIGNS has become synonymous with custom sign and visual communication services. The company handles every aspect of the signage creation process for their clients, from design and permitting to installation services. On the franchise side, FASTSIGNS offers a full suite of franchisee support services and extensive training on every aspect of the business. In addition, existing sign business owners can easily convert or cobrand their location.
- 50% discount on the initial franchise fee for veterans and first responders
- Founded: 1980
- Franchising since: 1987
- Locations: 667+
- Startup cost: $50K
- Total investment: $240K–$311K
Green Home Solutions
Green Home Solutions provides indoor air quality enhancement services for residential and commercial properties. The company specializes in disinfection, mold remediation, odor removal, and allergen control for clients ranging from real estate agents to healthcare professionals. Franchisees can choose from available territories and work closely with a dedicated area representative who serves as a management coach, business consultant, and marketing expert. Green Home Solutions offers new owners additional support on the corporate side, including training, marketing, and operational support.
- 25% off the initial franchise fee for qualifying veterans
- Founded: 2010
- Franchising since: 2010
- Locations: 217+
- Startup cost: $50K–$100K
- Total investment: $99K–$184K
Part of the ServiceMaster network of companies, Merry Maids is the largest house cleaning franchise in the U.S. Consistently ranked among the top 500 franchises by Entrepreneur, the company offers residential and commercial cleaning services in nearly a thousand locations across the country. Franchisees choose their exclusive service territory and have access to proprietary cleaning systems and business operations software. In addition, prospective franchisees with existing home cleaning businesses can easily convert their operation into a Merry Maids unit.
- 20% off the initial franchise fee for honorably discharged veterans
- Founded: 1979
- Franchising since: 1980
- Locations: 958+
- Startup cost: $37K
- Total investment: $94K–$130K
Pillar to Post Home Inspectors
For nearly two decades, Pillar to Post Home inspectors has helped property owners and prospective buyers ensure the quality and integrity of their current or future homes. Along with home inspections, their service menu also includes:
- Mold detection
- Radon testing
- Septic system inspection and sewer scoping
- Water quality and systems testing
Recognizing their dedication to helping veteran franchisees succeed, Pillar to Post was named the #1 Veteran-friendly franchise by Entrepreneur and G.I. Jobs Magazine. The company also participates in the Canadian Franchise Association’s Military Veterans Program.
- 20% discount on the initial franchise fee for veterans
- Assistance with obtaining additional funding from VA programs that help veterans establish new careers outside the military
- Founded: 1995
- Franchising since: 2009
- Locations: 475+
- Startup cost: $46K
- Total investment: $66K–$78K
The first Scooter’s Coffee opened in Bellevue, Nebraska in 1998, and was initially known as “Scooter’s Java Express.” At the time, a drive-thru coffeehouse was nearly unheard of, but Scooter’s quickly became popular – and has since expanded to include nearly 500 franchise locations nationwide. Its current menu offers a variety of delicious teas, smoothies, food, and, of course, coffee. Franchisees can start with a single unit, choosing from either a kiosk or coffeehouse model, with the option to expand into a multi-unit operation.
- $20,000 credit toward first-year product for every new location purchased
- 20% discount on the initial franchise fee.
- Founded: 1998
- Franchising since: 2001
- Locations: 555+
- Startup cost: $40K
- Total investment: $797K–$1.3M
The UPS Store
The UPS Store came about in 2001, when shipping giant UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc., Inc. Since then, the franchise has become the largest network of retail shipping, postal, and business service centers in the United States. Franchisees benefit heavily from the global power and reach of the UPS brand, as well as the company’s comprehensive training and support. It also doesn’t hurt that the UPS Store has received dozens of awards and accolades for its overall franchise operation – including being ranked #2 in the 2022 Entrepreneur Franchise 500.
- $10,000 off the franchise fee for a new location (includes 50% off the initial application fee)
- Founded: 1980
- Franchising since: 1980
- Locations: 5,140+
- Startup cost: $30K
- Total investment: $247K–$477K
Ready to add franchise investing to your portfolio?
If you’re an investor looking to incorporate alternative assets into your strategy, investing fractionally with a FranShares franchise portfolio offers high earning potential and diversification in a completely passive model. Sign up for our platform on our home page to learn more about FranShares and this unique opportunity.