Just in time to honor veterans for this Veteran’s Day, a Colorado Springs franchise has joined a national effort to hire more veterans.
Lynette Crow, founder of Conspire!, a Colorado Springs-based drug screening franchise, will waive the franchise fee to a military veteran in the U.S. to help them get started in one of her businesses. Veterans, she said, sometimes get lost in the shuffle of employment and she is committed to helping get more veterans hired.
Crow first announced her project in Washington D.C. in September. This week, she provided more details to coincide with the International Franchise Association’s effort, “Operation Enduring Opportunity,” an industry-wide recruitment campaign to offer returning veterans career paths in franchising, including employment and ownership opportunities through the IFA’s longstanding VetFran program, originally established in 1991.
The announcement of the IFA program was made in Washington D.C. Nov. 10 by First Lady Michelle Obama and in Colorado Springs by Crow. Operation Enduring Opportunity, Crow said, is a call to action to other small businesses to consider hiring veterans, who have a higher unemployment rate than civilians.
“They make great employees,” she said. “They have the ability to make quick decisions — who wouldn’t want to hire a veteran?”
Crow founded Conspire in 2003 and last year she moved to franchise her business. She has sold three franchises and has others in the works with a goal of 200 locations in the next two years.
As part of Operation Enduring Opportunity, she will waive the $30,000 franchise fee to one qualified veteran in the U.S. She said she also would work to find that veteran other assistance to start the drug screening business, including bank loans and in-kind office construction. She will also look for donations of rent and overhead for the first six months of operation for the military veteran, she said. She is taking applications now on Conspire4vets.com. The deadline to apply is Jan 31.
Nationwide, IFA has set a goal of hiring 75,000 veterans by 2014. The unemployment rate for veterans is 11.7 percent, higher than the national and local rate.
IFA president and CEO Steve Caldeira said businesses need to ensure that the tens of thousands of service men and women return from deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan and Southwest Asia are able to transition into the civilian work force.
Franchising is often a good match for veterans, he said, because it offers structure for veterans.
“We encourage all franchise businesses, including franchisors and franchisees, to answer the call to offer jobs and career opportunities to veterans, wounded warriors and their families,” he said.
Today, there are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise establishments, according to the U.S. Census data. That equates to 815,000 jobs. More than 2,000 veterans have become franchise business owners through the IFA’s VetFran program.
Some things that will help get veterans hired are a new “Veterans Job Bank” – a way for franchise members to search for employees. Also, TeamLogic, a subsidiary of Franchise Services, committed to award up to 10 franchises in 2012 to qualified candidates that come through the IFA’s VetFran program – a commitment of $400,000. The firm also will work on training programs for veterans.