After leaving the Navy and having successful business careers, Joseph Dondero and John Mann walked away from their regular paychecks in search of a venture that could make money while making a difference. That’s when they created Rolly Pollies, a children’s gym franchise that offers classes in gym, creative arts and music as well as summer camps and birthday parties.
Naturally, the 1st place the U.S. Naval Academy graduates looked for highly-motivated, well-disciplined people to help expand their entrepreneurial venture was among fellow veterans. Luckily for them, the International Franchise Association had already laid the groundwork for veterans who want to acquire franchised small businesses through its Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, known as VetFran. Rolly Pollies‘ founders saw the perfect match-veterans helping veterans-and became the 200th franchise system to join the program.
The initiative receives no government funding. It is a simple but effective concept, IFA President Matthew Shay explained. To participate, companies must offer veterans a ‘best deal’ financial incentive to buy one of their franchises. Rolly Pollies offers veterans a 15 percent discount off the franchise fee of $35,000.
To date, nearly 500 veterans in 45 states have taken advantage of this program; more than 120 are in various stages of negotiation. A list of participating companies is available on the association’s Web site, www.franchise.org, under Franchising for Veterans.
‘The VetFran program is the franchising sector’s way of honoring veterans for their service, while at the same time attracting excellent candidates,’ said the president of the trade association representing the franchising sector. ‘Veterans are highly-desirable franchisee candidates because their military training instills in them a strong sense of discipline, an ability to lead within a structured system, and an unwavering belief in core values, which carries over well to the franchise business.’
Already, potential franchisees are benefiting from the Rolly Pollies‘ alliance with VetFran. ‘We have a potential franchisee who is about to sign any day now and he will be our first franchisee brought on through the VetFran program,’ explained Mann. ‘We think this program is important, and the ultimate way to make money while making a difference.’
Dondero and Mann sold 2 of their 4 franchises to veterans, a Navy seal in Raleigh and a marine in Tampa, prior to joining VetFran, but offered a discount to recognize their past service.
VetFran has been recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs as a Support Sector Champion for expanding business opportunities for veterans. IFA is the world’s oldest and largest trade group representing the franchising sector. Its membership includes more than 1,000 franchisors, 8,000 franchisees and 400 suppliers.