Later, when Scudamore shifted gears to start You Move Me, Wilson was again inspired by Scudamore’s goal to add a professional sheen to the gritty moving profession.
“You Move Me changes moving with clean and shiny trucks and guys with uniforms. Our customers don’t expect the best, and our goal is to provide the best. We bring them coffee before the move and a house plant as a gift after the move. We are really trying to be more customer-centric, not just a truck with four wheels,” he says.
Scudamore says You Move Me is a “green” opportunity and wide open to veterans. Currently, he has 34 franchisees, but more are available.
“I think anyone in contact with our business loves that we take something ordinary and make it exceptional. It can be a stressful business for the franchisee, but we make it less stressful. We make it fun,” he says.
Another veteran who found a way to think outside the box is Jerry Flanagan, who served in the Army from 1987 to 1989 and also the National Guard in the early 1990s. After he exited the service, Flanagan worked in retail. But when the economy worsened, so did his business. He knew that to survive in the recession, he’d have to find another option.
“My goal was to build a small business with a service that doesn’t go away and accelerates when the economy is down,” he explains.
So Flanagan started J Dog Junk Removal in March 2011 with one “model business” in Wayne, Penn. Then he branched out to offer that model as a franchise, selling his first two in June and July 2013. In July 2014, Flanagan re-formed his operation into a new company with an equity firm, Julip Run Capital. Their goal is to sell 400 franchises, and so far, they’ve sold four in six states.
The business model is patterned after USAA’s, so that only military members, veterans and their family members can own franchises. “I could see the unemployment rate for veterans was really high, and felt like if I could do anything and include veterans coming back from wars, then I would find something to get them involved with, too. I built the model, and it started clicking,” he says.
Have a clear understanding of the amount of capital required to open, operate and excel in the business. Your No. 1 challenge will be undercapitalization, says Kevin Blanchard, project coordinator at the International Franchise Association (IFA).
Franchise fees normally range between $40,000-$50,000, depending on the franchise business, Blanchard says. But there’s hope for veterans: Find out if the franchise is a participant in the Franchise Association’s VetFran program. VetFran helps returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance and industry support. More than 650 VetFran member companies offer discounts to veterans. They can be viewed at http://www.franchise.org/Veteran-Franchise.aspx.
Keep in mind that some banks are less likely to lend small business loans for small amounts, Blanchard says. Veterans may also want to research micro lending institutions. “These are normally non-profit state organizations that provide smaller loans to veterans for start-up capital,” he says.