What inspired you to create the Operation Athlete initiative?

We have always offered incentives for veterans who want to own a Destination Athlete franchise. However, we wanted to do something truly special in honor of our upcoming ten-year anniversary as a company. What better way than to say thanks than by awarding ten franchises to ten deserving veterans? Our company’s strong performance and exceptional service coupled with a thriving economy gives us an opportunity to give back to those who sacrificed to make it all possible.

What makes veterans ideal candidates for franchise ownership?

Owning a Destination Athlete franchise allows veterans to run a business right from the comfort of their own home and is often a good way to connect with their local community. It gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and the chance to enrich the lives of others as well as their own. When veterans come home, they have to face many challenges often both physical and emotional. The impacts are lifelong and adjusting to everyday civilian life is a struggle. Immersing themselves in meaningful work can be effective in helping them cope while also establishing a new life for themselves and their families.

What support systems have you built for these veterans and their spouses?

Destination Athlete is indeed one big family. Our headquarters staff and business owners support one another on every level. Many of our franchsiees’ spouses and other family members get involved in the business as well. Our business model encourages teamwork, providing structure and support for all of our Destination Athlete families. As the nation’s most comprehensive athlete-focused team dealer, our goal is to help youth and high school athletes reach their destination through our wide array of tools and our proven system. Veterans can now have an entrepreneurial career that affords them the flexibility to work from home allowing them to spend more time with their families. It also provides an opportunity to expand their business at their own pace with the comfort of knowing they have full support of a successful, national brand.

What advice do you have for veterans who are considering franchise ownership as a career outside of the military?  

Every day, we are hearing inspiring stories of veterans who are using their experiences to make a fresh start and make a difference in their communities, for their families and for other veterans. It’s the perfect opportunity for veterans to use and develop their leadership skills, to be a relevant part of the conversation and to improve their overall well being.

With greater emphasis place on creating these opportunities for veterans in franchising, what do you think the future holds? Do you think other franchises will begin taking a similar approach to Destination Athlete?

The future is extremely bright. Veterans make great franchise candidates because of their leadership skills and good values. Meanwhile, the youth and high school sports industry has seen robust growth and continues to grow exponentially. These factors combined with a strong, national franchise makes for a winning combination. We do think other franchises will follow our lead in this area. We hope to inspire other companies to be proactive and give back to those who are well-deserving. Providing opportunities for veterans can only serve to elevate everyone involved.