The Dwyer Group® brands listed among the Top 50 Franchises for Veterans


WACO, TEXAS – The World Franchising Network has compiled and published its fifth annual list of the “50 Top Franchises for Veterans.” The results were featured in the June 20, 2014 issue of USA TODAY in the Franchising Today section.

The World Franchising Network selected 50 franchisors from over 300 companies requesting evaluation for inclusion in the article. Among these were four Dwyer Group brands, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Rooter®, Aire Serv® and The Grounds Guys®.

There was no cost to participate in the survey. Each participating franchisor was required to submit a completed questionnaire. The questionnaire noted both the absolute number of and the percentage of the total number of operating units owned or managed by veterans.

“The steady increase in veteran representation within the overall franchising community over the last several years has been extremely encouraging,” Rob Bond, founder of the World Franchising Network, said. “It certainly is clear evidence of the intrinsic values, invaluable experience learned through life’s lessons, and the exceptional work ethic of our military veterans. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the years to come so that these fine young men and women can test their skills in franchising.”

The Dwyer Group is committed to helping veterans achieve their dreams and reach their goals by being in business for themselves. The Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran Program) was established by Don Dwyer, Sr., founder of The Dwyer Group, soon after the Gulf War ended in 1991. The Vet Fran program is a voluntary effort of International Franchise Association (IFA) member companies to encourage franchise ownership by offering business franchise opportunities and financial incentives to honorably discharged veterans.

Franchisee in the Spotlight: Brandy and Dan Prettyman

prettymansliderBy Jay Holland, Franchise Consultant for The Grounds Guys®

Dan and Brandy Prettyman purchased their franchise in March of 2012. Their business started in July 2012 as a start-up company with the idea of building a sustainable business. Dan and Brandy are both veterans and utilized the VetFran program to purchase their franchise. They were both on active duty in the Army when they first met in San Angelo, Texas. Dan was a terrorism analyst and retired from active duty as sergeant, while Brandy was a Chinese linguist and retired from active duty as a specialist. They have had tremendous growth in the short time they have been in business, targeting government, regional, independent and residential market segments. I was able to spend a few minutes learning how Dan and Brandy have been able to achieve substantial growth in such a short period of time.

What was your biggest challenge after you purchased your franchise?

The biggest challenge for us was to sort through the systems and understand exactly what we needed to do first. When you first start with your franchise, you have thousands of things to do to get ready to open your doors. The good part was we had our franchise consultant (FC) there to walk us through each step and focus on what we needed to do next. GroundsNet can be intimidating at first, but once you understand how it works, the process becomes easier and easier. It consolidates all of your data including contracts, leads and team members.

You signed a five-year government contract at Offutt Air Force Base. How were you able to land a 1,000-acre property and have the confidence it would be profitable?

pretymansmall2The first step was to really understand how government contracts work. Brandy and I both worked on the contracting side for the government after we retired from the Army; the process can be detailed and requires a lot of paperwork to get submitted. We had that covered. We were able to determine the contract was coming up for renewal through research and made the decision with our FC’s input that we would submit a bid. There were a couple of key factors that helped us land the contract over our competitors, and those factors are the systems and training we have received over the last year. We compiled a 30-page technical write-up that showed the contractor office we had the quality control systems to maintain a property that large, and the experience behind us to make it work. It was already built into the system, like LAND, GC3, V.I.E.W., CASE, etc. It made our job easy; everything that was required was already there for our proposal. When you are dealing with a property this big, you need to understand your financials and numbers, down to every penny. We were able to utilize our business planning tool and understand how the numbers would work over a five-year period. The ability to have the home office team review our production and budgeted numbers as we walked through was crucial in giving us the confidence we were accurate.

With your company growing so fast, how has equipment played a vital role in your success?

Utilizing ProTradeNet® vendors, especially John Deere, is one of the biggest reasons of our success, hands-down. There is no way we could have done it without that relationship. The Grounds Guys has a national community with the ability to get special pricing and fantastic financing terms. When you save on equipment and have the ability to finance at zero percent interest, it really gives you an edge over the competitors. Their dealer network also provides exceptional service to us.

How do you attract such quality team members?

It’s all about the Culture of C.A.R.E. and our hiring process. We worked with an organization called Hiring Heroes. They help find retired servicemen and women jobs, and we were able to find several employees. We did not hire them because they were able to operate a mower; we hired them because they fit our culture and had proven leadership skills because of their time in the military. We are now up to ten full-time employees and two part-timers, and we are always looking to hire veterans who fit our culture.

Why do you make it a point to meet with your franchise consultant once a month?

The main reason is the ability to bounce ideas off of them and make sure we are on track with our goals. He always seems to start back with the basics every time and that really helps put everything in perspective. It might be something as simple as bidding a small residential property or a large government bid. You have to start with basics and work your way from there. It allows you to make the right decision and be confident in it.

Why do you think it is important to diversify your customer base?

Landing such big contracts at the beginning, you can’t forget to refocus on the overall plan and your market segments. I learned at training that you don’t want a couple of customers to be your entire business.

If you had one suggestion for a new or existing franchisee, what would it be?

It would be to look into city, state and federal contracts. It can really help to get your business to break even quickly, and usually, the buying process is not biased by personal relationships.

Get Ready To Open a Franchise, Part Two: The Finance Quandary

Dina Dwyer-Owens

Follow Dina on Twitter @DinaDwyerOwens.
Dina Dwyer-Owens is chairwoman and chief executive officer of The Dwyer Group, Inc. (, a holding company of seven service-based franchise organizations: Aire Serv®, Glass Doctor®, The Grounds Guys®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter® (Drain Doctor in the UK and Portugal), and Rainbow International®. The Dwyer Group is based in Waco, Texas.

Most Americans have the desire to become financially independent and have a career that meets their personal and professional goals. However, only a select few have the discipline required to meet those goals.

According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, 54% of adults aged 18 to 34 want to start a business, yet only 8% have reached that goal. That means that nearly half of the next generation is looking to entrepreneurship as a fulfilling and sustainable career choice but hasn’t been able to take the proverbial leap.  While these eager entrepreneurs are not limited by their ambition, poor or insufficient finances limit their ability to see their dreams become reality.

However, with the proper preparation, future business owners can begin planning and saving in advance to make sure that they are financially capable of securing the capital available necessary to open a new business.

My father, Don Dwyer, Sr. founded The Dwyer Group® with a vision to create a system of success that individual entrepreneurs could adopt to help them reach specific goals in their personal and professional lives. The professional system that we use is called franchising—an established business model and brand that an entrepreneur can implement in a local market.

Several other top obstacles cited in the Kauffman study included not knowing how to run a business, not having the necessary skills or knowledge, and a lack of role models. The training and support that a franchise provides address these obstacles head-on.

Part of my father’s personal system of success was called targeting. He used to say, “Goal-setting is a win/lose preposition, while targeting is a win/win proposition. Targeting provides the flexibility of more than one way to be a winner.” If you don’t create a targeted action plan now, life will get in the way of your goals. Here are a few tips to help you save up for opening a business or franchise.

Describe your targets in writing. Write down your target date for opening a business and the amount of money you’d like to save. Think big, but conduct research so you can set a realistic goal.

Choose a target that excites and challenges you. When you research franchise and business opportunities, look for something that you have a passion for and that will stretch and challenge you as a person.

Visualize your targets. Do you dream of a big house or vacation for your family? Print a picture of your dream and put it somewhere where you will see it. Never underestimate the power of a sticky note on the mirror with some motivational words.

As CEO, one of my greatest privileges is teaching incoming franchise owners, many of whom are military veterans, how to reach personal and professional goals. Already opening a business, they have surmounted the obstacle of financing and are on to their next challenges—growth and financial independence! You can read some of their stories at or

Franchise Financing Resources for 2013

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Although not technically a lender itself, the SBA is still the best place to start for new business owners seeking financing. Learn more at

Community Banks and Credit Unions

In the wake of the financial crisis, small community banks and credit unions need new customers—and they’re targeting small business owners. Don’t forget to check with local institutions in addition to the big banks.

In-House Financing

Many franchisors offer in-house financing to help their franchisees get their business off the ground. For example, The Dwyer Group is proud to be able to finance up to 70% of the franchise fee in-house. Franchisors also maintain relationships with external lenders that they can refer you to and help you through the process.


Crowdfunding is online fundraising through a large number of micro-investments, often fuelled through social media. Although still in its infancy, it’s likely to pick up momentum in the next few years. Check out, a crowdfunding portal for veterans opening franchises.


Follow Dina on Twitter @DinaDwyerOwens.

Dina Dwyer-Owens is chairwoman and chief executive officer of The Dwyer Group, Inc. (, a holding company of seven service-based franchise organizations:  Aire Serv®, Glass Doctor®, The Grounds Guys®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter® (Drain Doctor in the UK and Portugal), and Rainbow International®. The Dwyer Group is based in Waco, Texas.

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This article was originally published in Volume VI Issue 2 of Search & Employ as published by Recruit Military®. For more information visit the following websites: or and

Get ready to open a franchise: Part one of six

Part One of Six: A Dina Dwyer-OwensChecklist for Active and Veteran Military


If you want to open a franchise after leaving the military, let me congratulate you for your vision: You aspire to join a long line of successful veteran entrepreneurs and job creators. To realize your vision – to get ready to open a franchise one, five, or even ten years down the road – you need to start working today.

Franchisors maintain high standards for selecting men and women to run their franchises, because those people will represent their brands to the public. The franchisors evaluate a candidate’s credit history, assets, and experience, as well as his or her attitude, interpersonal skills, and character.

Franchisors know that veterans have the leadership, drive, and professionalism necessary to run a franchise successfully. So, if you are a typical veteran, you already have much of what it takes. What work do you need to do from now on?

In this article, I will present a checklist for franchise candidates who have military backgrounds. In future articles, I will go into detail on several of the items in the list.

In my articles, I will often refer VetFran, a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association. VetFran was originally conceived by my father, the late Don Dwyer, Sr., founder of The Dwyer Group, as a way to say “thank you” to veterans returning from the first Gulf War (1990-1991). Today, VetFran helps returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance, and industry support.


Start saving.  A franchise investment can cost anywhere from between $25,000-$50,000 for a service or home-based franchise to $1,000,000+ for a restaurant or retail franchise. While much of this can be financed, it’s preferable to start up with as little debt as possible. Much of this can be financed, but it is preferable to start up with as little debt as possible. Calculate how much you would like to have saved when you open a franchise and how much you will need to put aside each month to reach this goal. Meet with a financial professional who can help you reach your goal.

Improve your credit score. Your credit history goes back seven years, so if your financial health is poor, you will need time to repair it. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of around 700 to 720 for a small business loan. Other important factors that lenders consider include your credit-card history and revolving debt as well as your cash liquidity.

Stay out of trouble! A criminal record is a red flag for franchisors. In addition, the VetFran program requires that veterans be honorably discharged to be eligible for their discounts.


Develop community relationships. When you open a business, you will want to have a strong local network that you can use to market your business via word of mouth. Selecting a location can be tricky for veterans because many of them have moved around. Choose a location where you already have a network in place, or a military community where it will be easy to establish your business as veteran-owned and veteran-friendly. Once you settle there, build your network by attending local chamber of commerce and BNI events.

Build leadership experience. The soft skill that most new franchise owners lack is managerial and leadership experience. Your military experience gives you a head start, but you may need to transition your mindset from mostly taking orders to mostly giving orders. Consider taking on leadership roles in local nonprofit organizations or non-military groups – or hiring a management coach.

Become financially literate. Learn how to read a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement. If you become familiar with basic accounting principles before opening a franchise, you will have one less thing to learn.


Assess your finances and family situation to determine whether the time is right to open a franchise. Talk to lenders about a small business loan. Talk to your spouse about how franchise ownership will impact your lifestyle—franchise owners typically work very hard in the first two years, but enjoy financial independence and flexibility in the long run.

Consider a business partner. If you choose to go this route, find someone whose strengths complement your weaknesses, and consider how working together will impact your relationship. Sometimes your spouse or high school buddy may not be the right choice.

Develop a relationship with suppliers and other industry groups. Get to know the local supply houses in your area. Many supply relationships are credit-based, so it’s best to have a working relationship in place as you build your business inventory.

Begin due diligence. The due diligence process can take anywhere from 2 months up to a year or more, and opening your doors can take another one to six months after signing on, so start researching early. Don’t be afraid to ask the franchisor and existing franchisees the tough questions—if it’s not a good fit, you want to find out early so both parties can move on.

Business ownership is tough, but worth it in the end. There is nothing as satisfying as making and meeting a goal, and becoming your own boss with the support of a national brand behind you. If you need some motivation in the meantime, you can read success stories of veteran franchise owners at or

Dina Dwyer-Owens is chairman and chief executive officer of The Dwyer Group, Inc. (, a holding company of seven service-based franchise organizations:  Aire Serv®, Glass Doctor®, The Grounds Guys®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter® (Drain Doctor in the UK and Portugal), and Rainbow International®. The Dwyer Group is based in Waco, Texas.


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This article was originally published in Volume VI Issue 2 of Search & Employ as published by Recruit Military®. For more information visit the following websites: or and


Soldier Becomes Local Entrepreneur

Korey Kaigle - Swanton, VTKorey Kaigle is one of the youngest franchisees in The Dwyer Group® family. At 23-years-old, Korey is employed fulltime by the Army and owns his own The Grounds Guys® franchise, a business he started at 22.

Born and raised in Swanton, Vt., Korey served in the Army National Guard for six years as a medevac Crew Chief on Blackhawk helicopters. He served in Iraq from 2010-2011. Upon his arrival back to the United States, Korey began researching opportunities to own his own business and saw opportunity in The Grounds Guys.

“They allow me to be myself, but made me an entrepreneur and gave me potential. I see a lot of groundskeepers in the area but they limit themselves because they can’t expand,” Korey said. “The Grounds Guys gives me an opportunity to grow and have a support team. I’ve never been in business, and they gave me the tools I needed.”

Recently, The Burlington Free Press featured the incredible story of the local soldier turned entrepreneur.

Korey is one of more than 230 military service men and women and veterans that own a Dwyer Group franchise business. Through the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative the company has given nearly $1.5 million in franchise discounts to transitioning military personnel and current veterans.

In 1991, The Dwyer Group the founded the VetFran program, a voluntary effort of International Franchise Association (IFA) member companies to encourage franchise ownership by offering business franchise opportunities and financial incentives to honorably discharged veterans. The company’s mission with VetFran program is to help veterans achieve their dreams and goals by being in business for themselves. Learn more at

IFA Partners with Government Officials to Provide More Career Opportunities for Veterans

SoldierThe franchising industry has a long-standing history of supporting veterans. In 1991, IFA launched VetFran, a program to give Gulf War veteran’s access to business ownership opportunities through franchising. In 2011, Operation Enduring Opportunity was launched to expand that initiative to include hiring and the franchising industry began to support the White House Joining Forces initiative.

Recently, IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira joined President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden onstage to announce the hiring of 290,000 veterans and military spouses who have been hired or trained since the launch of the initiative. Impressively, franchising has contributed almost a quarter of the total hiring.

Hiring our veterans and military spouses is so important because it not only helps them adjust to a new lifestyle but also shows them that our nation honors them with actions, not simply words. In a recent FranBlog, First Lady Michelle Obama commended the work the International Franchise Association has done to help veterans and said, “The IFA has helped more than 4,300 veterans [find jobs] since 2011.”

The franchising industry, led by IFA and 562 other franchised businesses from IFA’s VetFran strategic initiative, were the first to commit to the White House Joining Forces initiative in 2011. The IFA and its association pledged to hire and recruit 80,000 veterans and military spouses in three years. In the first year alone, 65,000 veterans had started careers in franchising using discounts offered by VetFran member companies.

IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira offered his opinion on this franchising initiative saying, “With its rapid training opportunities, scalability, and need for operational execution and excellence in following proven systems, franchising provides an ideal structure to enable returning veterans to become leaders of and productive participants in the U.S. economy.”

Franchising is clearly a promising decision for many job-seekers today. For current franchising opportunities, veteran discounts or to learn more about the impact of franchising you can visit The Dwyer Group’s website or contact The Dwyer Group® at 1(866)-656-1504. For more information regarding the IFA and the work that they do you can click visit their website at



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