In the realm of franchising, the relationship between mentorship and success becomes particularly pronounced when veterans take the lead. Seasoned veterans, having conquered the challenges of entrepreneurship themselves, extend a guiding hand to fellow servicemen and servicewomen navigating the world of franchising.

Across the Propelled Brands network, which features over 1,300 locations globally and includes brands such as FASTSIGNS®, MY SALON Suite®, the recently acquired Camp Bow Wow®, and NerdsToGo®, a network of supportive veterans is available to both newer and established business owners to lean on for support. For many, this aspect of franchising makes the industry an appealing pathway to business ownership and provides an opportunity for franchisees to continue giving back to the veteran community. 




Giving Back

Stan Gray, a retired U.S. Navy Reserve veteran, was initially attracted to joining the FASTSIGNS network due to the benefits the brand provides, which includes a 50% reduction on the franchise fee. Gray opened his first FASTSIGNS location in 2015 in Long Beach and became so successful that he added a second location just two years later in Torrance in 2017. 

Since then, he has found opportunities to give back to the veteran community through his business and provide mentorship to other small business owners. One way in which he is able to pay his success forward is through working with the annual Armed Forces Day Parade in his area, the longest-running of such parades in the country. In support of the Veterans 5K, Gray’s FASTSIGNS creates banners promoting the parade every year and prints and installs banners featuring images of local veterans. 

Gray’s commitment to the veteran community and giving back to others led him to receive multiple top franchisee honors. He was awarded the most prestigious award in the FASTSIGNS network, the FASTSIGNS Award, and was named Franchisee of the Year by the International Franchise Association in 2022. FASTSIGNS has similarly been consistently recognized as a top franchise opportunity for veterans. 

“Working within the FASTSIGNS network is a lot like my experience serving. From international corporate teams to each franchise, everyone is always on the same page, working toward the same mission,” said Gray. “I believe in the process. In the military, there are standard procedures that are essential to follow. When you buy into a process, you stay on the path. I’ve bought into the FASTSIGNS process and am committed to FASTSIGNS and will continue my path with them.”


Creating Opportunity

Jim Provo served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years. After opening a financial advisory business and then joining the Small Business Administration, Provo decided to open a MY SALON Suite franchise in 2014. Jim and his wife currently have three MY SALON Suite locations open across Delaware. 

“One advantage of MY SALON Suite is that you typically don’t need any employees, except maybe a property manager,” Jim shared. “Whether looking for a source of retirement income or whether you’re just starting out after leaving the military, franchising, in general, is a good option for veterans. Franchisors value veterans because of the skills they bring to the table.”

MY SALON Suite is also known for its philanthropic contributions. The brand’s philanthropic program, the Suite Relief Fund™, has raised over $600,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since the partnership’s inception in 2018. Provo takes this culture of giving back to heart by helping create opportunities for other veterans to own their own businesses.

Jim teaches a class at the Small Business Association called “Boots to Business,” where he talks to veterans about business ownership and shares the advantages of franchising. Through this program, he mentors other veterans through his experiences as a business owner with MY SALON Suite.


Finding Community

After serving for 20 years in IT for the U.S. Air Force, Roger Turnbow officially joined the NerdsToGo network as an owner of a NerdsToGo franchise in San Antonio in 2021. Turnbow chose to open a franchise because of the network of other franchise owners that he felt confident he could lean on as mentors and resources, and NerdsToGo in particular was a natural fit given his IT background from his time serving. 

NerdsToGo supplies veterans with the resources, training, support and information required to start, build and maintain a successful business. The brand views veterans as ideal candidates for the skill set and team-oriented mindset they cultivate during their military experience.

“The military prepares you for this kind of transition in a civilian role,” said Turnbow. “For me, you have to be a good teammate and a good follower before being a great leader. I can be a great leader now because my service taught me what it means to be a good follower and how to play a role on a team.”

The Air Force brought Roger and his wife Michelle to San Antonio, and they decided “Military City” was the perfect place to open their business and connect with other veterans. Veterans are often eager to support veteran-owned businesses. This serves as a win-win scenario, allowing NerdsToGo to provide much needed IT services to other local veteran-owned small businesses, as well as providing NerdsToGo franchisees with an opportunity to tap into a customer base and network of other veterans.


Franchising Provides the Power to Give Back

Franchising is all about being in business for yourself but not by yourself, a similar mindset as the military and just one reason why veterans make such valued franchisees for the Propelled Brands network. It’s not just a matter of getting franchisees to join the network, however, but more importantly providing them with the necessary resources to help them thrive. 

Propelled Brands is an active member of the International Franchise Association’s veteran program, VetFran, which aims to create pathways for veterans to own their own businesses. Across the Propelled Brands portfolio, each brand offers incentives and discounts for veteran franchisees, such as a 50% reduction on the franchise fee to veterans and first responders on their first location, as well as ongoing training, support and a network of other veteran owners. 

Successful veterans in turn become catalysts for positive change, paying forward their knowledge and experience to uplift others within the community. The cycle of mentorship is a testament to the shared values of independence, collaboration and success that define both the military and the world of franchising, ultimately creating an environment where veterans help each other achieve their entrepreneurial goals.