Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With more than 17 years of military experience, Michael O'Neill wanted his entrepreneurial ventures to assist fellow veterans. JDog Junk Removal and Hauling perfectly fit the bill, as the franchise is centered on providing sustainable career opportunities for veterans returning to civilian life. As a franchisee, O'Neill has the unique opportunity to provide jobs for unemployed military comrades. Here is how he does it.
Name: Michael O'Neill
Franchise owned: JDog Junk Removal and Hauling of Eastern Main Line in Philadelphia and JDog of Philadelphia.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I opened my first JDog in January of 2015.
Joining a franchise offers a proven business model and a built-in support system through both the franchisor and other franchisees. As a new business owner, it’s helpful to have the marketing and training help needed to get up-and-running, as well as moral support from other franchise owners.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Prior to joining the JDog movement, I worked at the Regional Forensic Psychiatric center at Norristown State Hospital in Pennsylvania. I am also active in the Army Reserves, am a volunteer firefighter, and Senior Vice Commander at the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 6956 in Gladwyne, Pa.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I loved the idea of joining a franchise whose sole mission is to provide sustainable career opportunities to fellow veterans transitioning to the civilian world. This is just the answer we needed to help vets rebuild their lives. The ethos of brotherhood among veterans resonates with those who become JDog franchisees and defines the operating environment of the company. Because JDog caters to veterans’ unique skill set, I liken the JDog franchise system to a military organization – there is an unbelievable sense of camaraderie and it truly operates with respect, integrity and trust.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The total franchise initial investment fee is estimated to range from $39,000 to $97,400. This estimate includes the cost of up to $30,000 for a Hummer H2 or another company-approved vehicle, such as a Jeep Wrangler, which all require a camouflage-theme paint job and a trailer.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I did a lot of my research by connecting with experts in the franchising world, reading trade publications, and talking with others that were already involved in the JDog franchise system.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Finding and retaining good employees was one of the most unexpected obstacles of opening a business. Attracting responsible, trusted talent is especially a priority in a service-oriented industry.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Ask for help. There are many experienced business professionals who are ready and willing to help lead you through the growing pains of being a new business owner. You can’t do it all on your own.
What’s next for you and your business?
The demand for business has been overwhelming. I just purchased my second territory and hope to purchase my third soon to continue to provide more veterans with career opportunities. For now, we are focused on keeping up with business and offering high quality, trusted services. In the Soldier's Creed, we vow never to leave a fallen comrade. This opportunity with JDog allows us to keep that vow, even off the battlefield. We will work and build until every troop who wants a job has one.