Franchise owners who wore the uniform say: low cost, great support, vet-friendly
When he left the Air Force 20 years ago, Sean Tinsley didn’t care what kind of work he did as long as he succeeded at it. He now owns seven Chem-Dry franchises in Tennessee.
Jeremy Dillon dropped out of high school in Indiana — and after four years in the Marines and three tours of duty in Iraq, he came home determined to succeed as a small businessman. Dillon now owns and operates a growing Chem-Dry franchise in North Carolina.
Mike Jacobson and his wife, Sara, own a pair of thriving Chem-Dry locations near Washington, D.C. Mike ran the businesses full-time until he, a Marine Corps reservist, was called to active duty in January. He’s in Afghanistan, serving a tour while Sara runs the businesses. “I had to quick-and-dirty learn everything before he left,” she said.
Sean, Jeremy and the Jacobsons are a few of our franchise owners, and a few of the hundreds in our system who either served or continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces. With Independence Day coming, we thought it’d be good to talk with them about their service — and about why Chem-Dry is an excellent choice for a generation’s worth of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and in need of careers in a tough economy.
“I just love our country. I’m not proud to be American, I’m thankful,” Jeremy says. “I don’t even have a high school education, and here I am running a business, all because I worked hard and took a chance. What other country has that opportunity? That’s badass. You can’t do that anywhere else.”
A great choice for vets
We’re a great choice for veterans because our systems, products and low investment cost match skills vets have honed in the service and the often meager finances they leave the service with. Plenty of recently discharged veterans have little or no other professional experience, meaning they want business opportunities they can learn and ramp up quickly and affordably.
And there’s a real need for those kinds of opportunities for newly minted veterans. The unemployment rate among veterans on active duty after the war in Afghanistan began in September 2001 — Gulf War-era II veterans, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them — was 12.1 percent last year. The rate among all veterans was 8.3 percent, and the overall rate was 8.5 percent.
Chem-Dry franchise ownership can be a lifeline for veterans having trouble finding work. According to research by the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration, 14 percent of veterans are successfully self-employed — the highest percentage of any identifiable group of Americans. Chem-Dry offers in-house financing, a rarity among franchise systems, and participates in the International Franchise Association’s VetFran Program, which offers veterans a 10 percent discount on the initial franchise license fee.
“Franchising in general is a nice fit for veterans like myself because it rewards hard work, attention to detail and adherence to a system, all skills you develop big-time in the service,” says Sean, who at 43 presides over a seven-location, six-figure-income empire. “But Chem-Dry is an especially good choice because it’s one of the very best franchise values out there — your initial investment is as low as $34,000, which means a lot of veterans could potentially go straight from their honorable discharges to Chem-Dry franchise ownership.”
Low cost, high return
Sara Jacobson says the affordability was what drew her husband, Mike, to Chem-Dry. The Jacobsons, both 30, run a pair of Chem-Dry franchises from their home in Stafford, Va.
“He had done a lot of research, and Chem-Dry was very attractive because it didn’t require opening a physical location, and it didn’t have a super-expensive startup cost. He researched Chem-Dry’s cleaning method and really felt it was something he could get behind,” she says. “I know lot of service members, they want to start their own businesses and take control of their situations without going into huge amounts of debt before they’ve even made any money. That’s what attracted (Mike), and it’s worked out so far.
“It’s definitely a business where you get out of it what you put into it, and that fits military people very well, because they’re trained to give 110 percent.”
That was the idea Jeremy had when, after he dropped out of school, he went to work as a technician for Chem-Dry by Kevin Jones in his native Indianapolis. Then 9/11 happened. Jeremy wanted to enlist immediately but wanted to make some money first. So he kept working for Jones until 2005, when he joined the Marines, seeing heavy combat in and around Fallujah during his first tour in 2006. He and his wife, Amy, decided after his discharge in 2009 to move to Raleigh, N.C., and open a Chem-Dry location.
“As a Marine, you’ll have plenty of motivation, leadership, integrity, all that. And you’re used to learning quickly and being as squared away as you can possibly be,” he says. “Plus, it’s not all that hard. I’m not a rocket scientist. I’d think any Marine could do it.”
Simple, not easy
Sean says the simplicity of our business model is one of the biggest advantages for a veteran.
“I like to say it’s simple but not easy,” Tinsley said. “You have to have drive and general business sense, and you’ll put in a lot of long hours at first, but you don’t need a huge amount of training or expertise. As long as you have some basic technical proficiency and a desire to succeed, you can make a great life with Chem-Dry.”
And these folks all have, and we’re proud on this July 4 holiday to thank them for their service to our nation — and to say how proud we are to have people like them represent our system. Happy Fourth, guys, and everyone! And for more information about Chem-Dry, please download our detailed franchise information report, with facts about our system, investment, markets and more.