Veterans Day may have passed, but ice-cream brand Baskin-Robbins is continuing the celebration with its latest franchising incentive program that aims to recruit military veterans to its franchising ranks.

The initiative, which waives the initial franchising fee of $25,000 for U.S. military veterans, aims to ease the way for veterans to start their own business.

Bill Mitchell, senior vice president and brand officer for Baskin-Robbins, says his experience as a military veteran helped inspire the brand to create the program.

“Had I had this available to me 20-something years ago, I would have looked at it,” he says, “because although there are costs involved, there are people that are here willing to teach you and take the risk with you along the way.”

He also adds that the program can be mutually beneficial for both veterans and the Baskin-Robbins brand.

Veterans’ leadership, training, and communication abilities translate well in the foodservice industry, making them great franchisees for brands like Baskin-Robbins, Mitchell says. But Baskin-Robbins also thinks it has a lot to offer potential veteran franchisees.

“We’ve got a good business model that has low enough capital requests,” he says, adding that Baskin-Robbins has a lower cost of capital than many of its competitors. “And we believe the fit of the leadership and communication and drive and all the things that come with the daily life of a veteran fit in place perfectly.”

Mitchell says the program’s “stair-step loyalty approach” spurs cash flow in a short period of time, satisfying a top concern for those veterans who are leaving the military and jumping directly into civilian life.

“We geared the program around looking at it through the eyes of a veteran to see how we can really match some talents to help us grow stores, as well as provide a great opportunity for those exiting the military,” he says.

Though Mitchell acknowledges that running a Baskin-Robbins does require training, it’s a fun and easy business to operate.

“It gives people the opportunity to step into retirement or pre-retirement and have a solid business that they could grow on their own and work on their own,” he says. “Whether it’s one store or multiple stores, the concept is simplistic enough that it’s an easier transition for veterans.”

The newly launched program specifically targets franchisees in California and Florida, but Mitchell says the brand will consider agreements in any market it finds suitable.

“It’s about the individual and the community,” he says. “That’s one of the centerpieces of this program. So whether you’re in St. Louis, Missouri, or New York City or Orange County, California, we would entertain all of those.”

The program has no end date in site, and Mitchell says the brand is also wary of pinpointing the exact number of veteran franchisees it would like to recruit through the program, “only because we do not want to limit it.

“Like everything else we’re doing to grow the Baskin-Robbins brand,” he continues, “we’ve got a lot of high expectations.”

By Mary Avant

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Desserts, Finance, Growth, News, Baskin-Robbins