By Steve Coomes
The Dwyer Group®, a Waco, Texas-based operator of seven unique franchise brands, views such retired professionals as ideal franchisees, and it has developed a unique plan to attract them. Dubbed the Public Protectors Franchise Advantage (PPFA) program, the plan provides firemen and law enforcement officers a 20 percent discount on the cost of a base franchise agreement.
“These kinds of professionals are not only good, hardworking people with strong values, they also are people who have mastered systems in order to perform their jobs effectively and safely,” said Dina Dwyer-Owens, CEO and Chairwoman of The Dwyer Group. “Proven systems make sense to them, and that’s exactly what a successful franchise is all about. So we’d like to see more of them join our ranks.”
PPFA is an outgrowth of the VetFran program created by The Dwyer Group founder, Don Dwyer, Sr., shortly after the end of the first Persian Gulf War. Believing many military veterans would need work after being discharged, he sought to help veterans start their own business by lowering the initial franchise fee by 25 percent.
Through a partnership with the International Franchise Association, the program expanded beyond The Dwyer Group to help more than 2,100 ex-military men and women achieve franchise ownership through more than 400 unique brands. Just in The Dwyer Group brands alone, 236 franchisees have enjoyed the VetFran discount.
“We asked ourselves, since we’ve always done this for ex-military, what about public protectors like firemen and law enforcement officers?” recalled Dwyer-Owens. “So many of them can and do retire after serving all of us for most of their lives, but many would like to continue working. This program doesn’t lead them to just another job, but helps them get started on owning and running their own businesses.”
This year, The Dwyer Group is sweetening the deal by giving away one franchise through an award open only to public protectors. The prize is a waiver of the initial franchise fee, which, depending on The Dwyer Group franchise brand selected, ranges from $26,000 to $29,500.
According to Doug Dixon, The Dwyer Group’s vice president of marketing and operations in franchise development, that’s a significant head start in a market where small business owners often struggle to amass start-up capital.
“Financing for just getting started has been the big challenge in franchising overall for some time,” Dixon said, adding that The Dwyer Group can finance up to 70 percent of the cost of a franchise for qualified candidates. “The public protector who wins this will have that much more capital on hand to operate his or her business. That’s crucial to long-term success.”
Nominations are being accepted from March until June 15, 2012. Following a review by three of The Dwyer Group’s executives, a winner will be announced on or about July 4, 2012.
In investigating the potential for engaging public protectors as franchisee candidates, Dixon said the company’s research revealed some 1.7 million law enforcement officers and firefighters currently at work in the U.S. Many earn modest incomes and take advantage of odd work schedules (such as two days on, three off) to earn side incomes, sometimes in skilled trades that could be helpful in second careers as franchisees.
“When you have people who already have those skills—they might be plumbers or electricians on the side—we could really help them transition out of their current careers in public service and into their own business,” Dixon said, noting The Dwyer Group’s franchises include Aire Serv®, Glass Doctor®, The Grounds Guys®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter® (Drain Doctor in the UK and Portugal), and Rainbow International®. “Since a lot of them will be looking for something new to do once they retire, we’d like to provide them a business opportunity through an established, proven franchise, rather than have them hanging their own shingle and trying to create a new business on their own.”
With proven systems to build on, Dixon said such franchisees have solid chances of becoming very successful.
“These are people we think have a better than average chance for success because they understand how to follow systems and procedures,” he said. “When you’re in the line of work that these guys are in, you learn to follow proven methods, and that’s what we have to offer them.”
For public protectors eager to nominate themselves or another peer for The Dwyer Group award, visit www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com for more information.