You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Franchise Players: How This Veteran Is Helping Other Vets Find the Right Franchise Gordon Dupries helps future veteran franchisees get started on the right foot with the Boot to Business program.

By Kate Taylor

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. In celebration of Memorial Day, we're running a series celebrating veterans in franchising. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, emailktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

For Gordon Dupries, it wasn't just enough to own a franchise – he wanted to help others do the same. In addition to operating three HWC Packing and Crating locations, he helps advise others in the franchising industry through consultancy FranNet. Plus, to assist other veterans, Dupries leads the Boot to Business program, which helps veterans get placed with the right franchise. Here's some of his biggest tips for anyone who wants to own their own franchise.

Name: Gordon Dupries, U.S. Coast Guard

Franchise owned: HWC Packing and Crating, Marin County, Cal. As well as FranNet in San Francisco/Bay Area

How long have you owned the franchise?

HWC was my first franchise which ultimately had three locations. I owned it for five years and was approached with a very attractive offer at which time I sold it. With FranNet, I have assisted hundreds of successful clients with my knowledge of the franchise industry, research techniques, financing strategies and long list of professional contacts.

Why franchising?

Going back to my first business and franchise, I simply did not have any ideas I felt confident enough in to invest my savings. Nothing I could think of seemed that exciting until I found a franchise that appeared to be a good fit. I also did not know how to do a business plan, market analysis or calculate startup costs and working capital requirements. A "good" franchise was the solution.

Related: Franchise Players: Veteran and Mother of Five on Refusing to Settle

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

After my time served in Vietnam with the Coast Guard, I was a senior traffic and logistics administrator for Bechtel Corporation, a very large engineering management and construction company with projects all over the world.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I chose a franchise that was interesting to me, utilized areas of my background and appeared to be unique with limited competition in my area.

How did your experience in the military prepare you for franchise ownership?

My experience in the military has been invaluable and I am thankful every day for what I learned. It was through the military that I gained the confidence to lead at a young age, understand team work, the value of continuing education, how to follow a system, meeting deadlines, respect senior authority and the true meaning of friendship.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

Franchise fee for three locations: $45,000

Furniture, fixtures and equipment: $50,000

Inventory: $15,000

Used van: $10,000

Signage: $3,000

Training travel expenses: $1,500

Working capital: $20,000

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I had no one to go to for advice and my research was based primarily on contacting potential customers to see what they would be looking for in a business.

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Finding the right locations and becoming comfortable with property leases. Also, hiring the right employees, learning to delegate and charging enough stay in business but keep customers.

Related: Franchise Players: Balancing Lives as a National Guard Pilot and a Pet Store Franchisee

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

As luck would have it, the franchise I have owned for over 20 years now, FranNet, is in the business of helping people with advice on how to buy the right franchise. I'm proud to say I'm a founding member and we are considered one of the premier match making services in our field. Our materials and personal assessment provides answers to this question and more. As an example I would consider the following:

  • Do you have a track record of success in the military or civilian world?
  • Do you look at the world and think I can do better?
  • Are you a self-starter, can meet deadlines and can lead others?
  • Can you make a decision after you have all the facts?
  • Do you have family support in your decision to make a business investment?
  • Are you familiar with the government agencies like the SBA, SCORE and SBDC's that are there to provide assistance in your business research?
  • Are you one who is looking to build wealth, control and flexibility for yourself and family?
  • Can you follow a system and know how to be a team player?
  • Can you understand numbers and work with professionals in business such as real-estate, bookkeeping, finance, legal and accounting professionals who are there to assist you?
  • Can you use technology and are you open to new ideas and ways of doing things?
  • Are you willing learn from others who have experience in your franchise and can provide the insight and coaching you need?
  • Do you have a location you would like to settle in for 3-5 years?
  • Can you afford to lose the money you invested and move on with life?
  • Is the franchise registered in your state?
  • Can you afford to cover you living expenses while your business grows?
  • Do you have the funds to cover startup costs?
  • Have you calculated enough working capital to break even and create net profit?
  • Will your franchise selection provide you with an attractive exist strategy when it's time to sell or retire?
  • Are you interested in a legacy business to hand over to the kids?

Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head…

What advice do you have for other veterans who want to own their own franchise?

Learn about the many programs franchisors have established with the International Franchise Association for veteran assistance. Ask the franchisor if they are part of the Vet Fran program that offers discounts on the franchise fee paid to the franchisor for acquiring the rights to their franchise. Contact the Small Business Administration for programs to help with financing your franchise. Ask your accountant about the government tax incentives for veterans.

Attend a Boots to Business two day workshop provided by the military as part of the congressional mandate to help discharging military learn how to be entrepreneurs. Tell them Gordon sent you and he is very proud to be a member of the San Francisco SCORE chapter and an instructor at the program provided at Travis Air Force base every quarter. Oh and good luck! We thank you for your service!

What's next for you and your business?

For many years, I never really understood what many of my colleagues meant when they told me; when you're doing something you love, by the time you can retire you may not want to. I feel a little like that now. One of the wonderful advantages to being in your own boss is you can give yourself a raise, more vacation time or choose "not" to retire.

Related: Franchise Players: Why Vets and Franchising Go Hand in Hand

Kate Taylor

Reporter

Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Growing a Business

Bantam Bagels' Founder Fell Into a Mindset Trap 'People Don't Talk About' After Selling the Now-Defunct Business for $34 Million — Here's What Happened

Elyse Oleksak and her husband Nick founded their mini bagel business in 2013 — and it was an instant hit.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Money & Finance

Setting Your Business Up for Success Through the Rest of 2024

CFO's mid-year update: Understanding the latest trends and regulations impacting business finance.

Business News

Yes, You Can Buy a Foldable Tiny Home on Amazon — And Now It's Selling for Less Than $12,000

The waterproof and flameproof house was listed around $35,000 a few months ago.

Thought Leaders

We Live in a Data-Driven World — Here's a Case For Listening to Your Gut Instead

Honing and trusting one's intuition can lead to quicker, more effective decision-making. Here's how to harness the power of listening to your gut to make the best choices.