In 2013 Home Franchise Concepts, parent company of Budget Blinds, Tailored Living and Concrete Craft, announced its Million Dollar Franchise Event, a push to offer $1 million to military veterans in the form of $35,000 discounts on franchise and territory fees. The goal was met this year, with 30 veterans becoming franchisees.
One of them is Cedric Cook, a Marine Corps vet who opened his Fulshear, Texas, unit last November. While Cook was training, Budget Blinds was already working out its next initiative: Troops in Transition, offering a bigger discount -- nearly $75,000 -- to veterans who have left the military in the past two years or active service members planning to leave in the next two.
Curious as to how the program would be received, COO Todd Jackson asked Cook for feedback. “He got teary-eyed and said, ‘I can’t believe you guys are doing this. I want to help,’” Jackson says.
Cook has long had a heart for helping fellow vets, offering advice, mentoring and serving as an advisor for American Corporate Partners. “It’s tough coming off of active duty,” he says. “Somebody who’s gone through it can give them a listening ear and offer perspective.”
Budget Blinds enlisted Cook to develop a mentorship program for those joining the system through the new initiative. One such franchisee is his brother, Army veteran Tharon Cook, who opened a Budget Blinds in July in Newport News, Va. Through Troops in Transition, Tharon received a six-month franchise agreement, to be renewed for 10 years if he meets company-set sales goals.
Cook’s advice for his brother and other Troops in Transition franchisees? “Be true to yourself. If you’ve gone through military training and succeeded there, you know you can succeed at this. And remember that you’ve got people out there batting for you.”