Waiver saves $30,000 in startup costs, and comes amid other efforts to help
Marines are trained to leave no man behind, and I’ve made it a mission my entire career to help fellow veterans build better lives. I was chairman of the International Franchise Association in 2002 when we worked with the Veterans Administration to launch the VetFran program, which makes franchise businesses more affordable for veterans.
And that’s why I’m excited to tell you that Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie have decided to waive 100 percent of our franchise fee for military veterans through the end of 2012, which equates to a $30,000 discount to the cost of starting their business.
Tasti D-Lite recently hosted “Independence through Small Business Day” at our Nashville store to bring together business leaders and veterans and talk about the excellent work veterans have done for franchise companies. In November, we joined Tasti D-Lite franchise partner Steve Burnett, a Navy veteran, at his store in Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate “Operation Enduring Opportunity” — an effort by the franchise industry to recruit or hire 75,000 veterans by the end of 2014.
Helping veterans is important, especially now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among veterans who have served since 2001 stands at a staggering 12.1 percent, significantly worse than the 8.2 percent national average. It’s even worse for veterans under the age of 25, at 22 percent.
When I returned to the States from Vietnam, the American public looked down on veterans, and the sting of ridicule exacerbated the difficulty of returning to civilian life for those who had fought for their country. We should never let that happen again. We need to show our heroes that the debt they paid is a debt that we all owe. Waiving the franchise fee for the brands I represent is a small but significant way to convey our appreciation.
That’s why I’m grateful that the franchise industry continues to support veterans and understands the value that loyal, dedicated and hard-working service members bring to franchise organizations.
Veterans like Steve Burnett, who discovered Tasti D-Lite while visiting New York City in 2004 and was excited when he learned that the company had started franchising. He retired in 1996 after a 20-year career on Navy submarines. Steve estimates he’s spent about five years of his life underwater.
Steve never believed that he would have a problem obtaining financing when he reached out to ask about opening a Tasti D-Lite in Jacksonville. He received Tasti D-Lite’s VetFran discount, and worked to organize his funding. Ultimately, he ended up saving tens of thousands of dollars by renovating an old ice cream shop which scaled back his financial requirements.
“Jim’s willingness to shift my location and have it go into the old ice cream store were some of the things that they did differently to help me, and the buildout was a little bit more like one of the older New York Tasti stores,” Steve says. “Jim’s being a Marine veteran — he definitely has a soft spot for us vets, and we share the knowledge that time in the military helps mold a person into a better person and helps them fit into the business world pretty well.”
Crowdfunding site helps veterans raise money to start a franchise
Military veterans have the skills they need to succeed as small business owners, especially within a franchise system, but — even with discounts — they sometimes have difficulty putting together the money to start a business.
That’s why I was excited to hear about a new Florida company called Sprigster that is using crowdfunding to help veterans raise money to start their own franchise businesses. Sprigster’s “Boost a Hero” program allows veterans to post videos explaining their backgrounds and the businesses they want to start. The public is invited to donate $1 or more to help the veteran finance the purchase of a new business. Sprigster launched the program in partnership with the IFA, and thankful Americans have already donated enough money to put some veterans on the path to business ownership.
It’s a great way for Americans to thank veterans by making their dreams a reality.
Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie chairman and CEO Jim Amos is a Marine Corps. veteran who earned 12 decorations, including the Purple Heart and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He is also the author of several books, including The Memorial: A Novel of the Vietnam War. He has more than 30 years of experience guiding successful franchise companies such as Mail Boxes Etc., and was inducted into the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame in February.