A Big Career Step For Veteran Mike Smith With Foot Solutions

Foot Solutions  |  A Big Career Step  | 

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of print Search & Employ 

Mike Smith served as an Army specialist in Vietnam, and has been a franchisee, owner, and pedorthist for Foot Solutions in Little Rock for seven years. He served as president of the Foot Solutions Advisory Council, and is now on the council board. He received the 2006 Forrest Gump Award for having the top new store in the system, and was named President’s Club Best of the Best in 2007. Foot Solutions, based in Marietta, Georgia, has more than 120 locations in the United States, plus 150 locations in 16 other countries.

“Transitioning from military to civilian life can be difficult for many veterans,” Smith said. “Employers want to hire veterans for a variety of reasons, including that they are dependable, intelligent and follow directions well.”

Smith said that smart civilian employers will look for a combination of military and civilian experience from veterans. “It is possible to refocus training and experiences in the military to civilian life and create a strong resume that is desirable to employers,” he said. “Before serving in Vietnam, I had studied art in college and had received mortar training in the Army. While the mortar training wasn’t needed in Vietnam, my art background played a pivotal role in guiding my career both as a soldier as well as civilian life.”

In fact, his art experience likely saved lives in Vietnam. “After building a circle of bunkers to take cover from the Viet Cong, I recommended to my commander that I draw pictures of the topography outside the circle,” he said. “These pictures helped my fellow soldiers know if something outside the bunker had changed and the Viet Cong were nearby. This idea was rewarded with a promotion to company clerk where I handled the paperwork, personnel reports, and training for the company. This was my introduction into business administration, which I would eventually study in college utilizing the GI Bill.”

The experience that he got in Vietnam is still paying off today. “These same skills, that I first was exposed to in the Army now help me immensely in operating a successful Foot Solutions store,” Smith said. “Veterans transitioning to working in the civilian sector should dissect their experiences and responsibilities in the military to look for specific attributes that are desirable to employers. To be a successful Foot Solutions franchisee, a person must have advanced human skills and be able to interact with a variety of people like I did in the infantry. Simply living and working with a group of people from different backgrounds in the military gives veterans superior human skills that are desired in the private sector. Veterans have learned to treat everyone well, even if you don’t agree with them, in order to be successful in the military. This is one skill that I utilize operating a retail store every day and that will help make veterans successful in most any organization.”

Smith said all servicemembers and veterans should take advantage of the educational opportunities they have received due to their military experience. “The best advice that I could give a transitioning vet would be to utilize the GI Bill,” he said. “Because of the GI Bill, I was able to obtain my college degree and enjoy a career that would eventually enable me to open my own business as a Foot Solutions franchisee.”

As for becoming a Foot Solutions franchisee, Smith recommends talking a walk in a franchisee’s shoes before jumping in feet first. “For vets who think that they might want to become a Foot Solutions franchisee, gaining the education and experience to become a pedorthist and taking a job with a retail store is a good way to explore the commitment that is involved to be a retail store owner,” he said. “Vets can save money and gain valuable business experience while preparing to buy into the franchise system.”

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers