For U.S. Military Veterans returning to civilian life can be a major adjustment, fraught with challenges, including physical, psychological and financial burdens. Within the automotive aftermarket, many organizations recognize this and seek to provide support through various programs. Beyond this, there are a number of companies both within and outside the automotive aftermarket that recognize the unique and valuable skillsets that military veterans can offer in the civilian workforce thanks to their training, sense of loyalty and technical expertise, and seek to actively recruit these veterans for employment and franchise opportunities.
One such company is Pep Boys. In fact, the company was actually founded by World War I veterans looking to start the next chapter of their lives. They ended up creating a business that has lasted a century.
According to Pep Boys CEO Brian Kaner, “It’s important to us to continue to give generations of those who served the opportunity to write their own next chapter.” In addition to philanthropic initiatives, Pep Boys is a strategic partner of RecruitMilitary, the nation’s largest military-focused recruiting company. Pep Boys also supports a variety of internal workforce development initiatives, including “Race to 2026,” which recruits and supports the next generation of automotive technicians, including veterans, and is designed to help close America’s skills gap.
“Once a team member is part of our service network, they can take advantage of ongoing training, apprenticeship and career development programs,” said Kaner. “As our service network continues to grow, hiring is a critical need, and veterans, reservists and active-duty spouses are highly desirable candidates. We have a number of leaders who are overseeing some of our best-performing stores and regions, and leading initiatives such as our advanced diagnostic and electric vehicle work who served our country prior to joining Pep Boys.”
Kaner said those who serve bring a unique combination of both skills and values. “Depending on their role during their service, they bring applicable technical trade skills perhaps from working on military vehicles or with certain types of technology and systems. But, veterans and reservists also have a strong work ethic and outstanding integrity, and a shared commitment to a mission and accountability to each other, that comes from having served. These traits make them highly coveted and valued team members,” he noted.
Another area of significant opportunity within the automotive industry lies in the service and repair segment. A number of franchisors offer special incentive programs and resources specifically to support veterans.
One of those is Moran Family of Brands, one of the nation’s leading automotive repair franchises under the brands Milex Complete Auto Care and Mr. Transmission, which counts 14 United States veterans among its 120 total franchisees. Moran franchise owners have been enlisted in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines branches of the military, as well as the National Guard.
Moran is a longtime active member of VetFran, an initiative that grants a $5,000 franchise-fee discount, mentorship and training programs for any honorably discharged qualified veteran transitioning to civilian life.
Experience in the military has proven to be a great fit for franchise ownership. Members of the military exhibit strong leadership and motivational skills, something that is important for business owners. Like the military, franchise ownership involves following proven systems and defined procedures. This means a veteran can enter a completely new field and be likely to succeed by following the franchisor’s proven business model and completing the training program.
According to the International Franchise Association, although veterans make up only about 7% of the population, they account for 14% of all franchisees in the United States.
In addition to helping provide franchise ownership opportunities for veterans, Moran also is actively involved in attracting veteran employees as service technicians at its stores. The franchise has developed a recruiting process that works with local veteran affairs offices in search of workers with experience in the truck pool, heavy-equipment repairs and aircraft repairs. These veterans often make excellent automotive service techs.
As part of this process, Moran notifies veteran offices whenever a local shop is in need of adding a tech position at its location. Many of these veterans are younger and searching for opportunities shortly after returning from service. They often have the knowledge and technical skills for these service positions. The program has been mutually beneficial for both Moran’s individual shops and veterans looking to begin a successful career in auto repair.
Currently, about 25% of Moran’s franchisees are military veterans. The company estimates that about 40% or more of its technicians are veterans, reserves or active-duty personnel.
“We strive to keep people safe in their vehicles but, we understand that the military keeps us safe as a country. There’s no one we’d rather trust to employ in our shops than the one’s safeguarding our lives and our livelihood,” said Grant Maquet, Moran Family of Brands’ business development manager. “Veterans typically show the capacity for a strong work ethic, harness the ability to take any assigned task and hold the same core values that we do here at Moran Family of Brands.”
SUPPORT FOR SPOUSES
It is not only the veterans themselves who need support and resources when it comes to employment. Spouses of those in the military often need assistance as well. Currently, there are about 1 million military spouses in the global military community. It can be a challenge for military spouses to find and maintain employment with frequent permanent change-of-station moves.
In the collision repair segment, Maaco is one of 45 new partners to join the U.S. Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) this year, which currently includes 544 employers in all. MSEP connects military spouses with hundreds of partner employers who commit to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. Since its inception in 2011, MSEP employers have hired more than 200,000 military spouses.
The MSEP continues to be a key element of the Joining Forces initiative to increase economic opportunity and mobility for military families. “Maaco has a longstanding history of giving back to active, reserve military members and veterans, so we are proud to add another layer of support through this remarkable program,” said Chris Dawson, president, Maaco. “We have several franchisees and employees within our Maaco family who have served, so we know military spouses have a unique set of diverse skills that bring incredible value to every business, no matter the industry.”