Veteran Franchisor Background – The Dwyer Group

The Dwyer Group  |  |  A Family of Franchises  |

Published in the March/April 2010 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

Chris Loudermilk, a franchise system specialist with Mr. Rooter, and former director of military development for its parent operation, the Dwyer Group, calls the United States military “the biggest franchise in the world.”

“The best franchises are all built on following successful standard operating procedures,” Loudermilk said. “So is the military. Both groups have rules and regulations to follow for very good reasons, and those who follow them generally succeed.”

That adherence to a plan is just one reason Loudermilk thinks veterans make great franchisees.

“Veterans have a lot of appeal,” he said. “The come to us with skills developed in leadership. They also have incredible work integrity and are amazing self-starters. Their incredible motivation makes them a great fit for owning a franchise.”

The Dwyer Group got its start in 1981 when Don Dwyer, Sr. developed Rainbow International. Later, as the vision for franchises progressed and grew, the company became the Dwyer Group.  The company is based in Waco, Texas and serves as the holding company for eight franchises: Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric, Mr. Rooter, Aire Serv, Glass Doctor, Portland Glass, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, and Rainbow International. The Dwyer Group provides services to more than 900 franchises in the United States and Canada.

The Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran) was established by Don Dwyer, Sr. soon after the Gulf War ended in 1991. VetFran is a voluntary effort of International Franchise Association (IFA) member companies to encourage franchise ownership by offering financial incentives to honorably discharged veterans.

The Dwyer Group offers a 25 percent discount on the initial base territory purchase, as well as special vendor incentives for those who qualify. The company also sponsors P.A.V.E., the Program for Assisting Veteran Entrepreneurship. It was founded to give military veterans the educational and financial resources to open a franchise business after their military service. The program’s benefits are unique to The Dwyer Group, and are provided in conjunction with VetFran.

“We recognize that veterans have worked hard to serve their country, and we try to provide ways for them to serve their community,” Loudermilk said.

Mary Kennedy Thompson, the president of Mr. Rooter, agreed.

“I love that what we do creates a lot of jobs for a community,” said the former Marine Corps logistics officer. “When we establish a franchise in an area, it isn’t just about Mr. Rooter or the franchisee; it’s about making a difference there and serving a community’s needs.”

Thompson, who left active duty as a captain and served briefly as a major in the Reserve, said that what she learned in the military paid excellent dividends when she got into the franchise business. She got her start with a cookie bouquet franchise. She has been so successful at building several locations and earning a good living that she noted, “Now, I work because I love it.”

Thompson thinks the most critical skills veterans possess when it comes to franchising are leadership, strategic thinking, and the simple ability to “get it done.”

“Veterans are taught to assess a situation, know how they are going to get into it, and what the best way is to come out,” Thompson said. “Having a plan and following is key to that. Veterans are excellent at making that happen. They are also natural leaders.”

She also noted that the mentoring that goes on in the military is also helpful when a franchisee is working with his staff, and that veterans have good communication abilities.  Public speaking, according to Thompson, is a vital skill.

“Being able to get up in front of a group of people, not only with confidence, but with a clear message, is crucial when establishing a business in a community,” she said.

But veterans bring even more to the table, according to Thompson.

“They understand how to handle the stress about ‘the buck stops here,’ ” she said. “They have enough experience to know it’s not life and death. They also tend to be family-oriented, enjoy overcoming challenges, and follow a strict code of conduct.”

That code is something that does not have to end after serving in the military.

“We follow a similar code, one that veterans will understand and appreciate,” Thompson said. “Our code is R.I.C.H.: Respect, Integrity, Customer-focus, and Having fun in the process.”


About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers