Franchising is good business for America’s war veterans—one in seven franchises is owned by a veteran, according to data from the International Franchise Association. The quick-serve industry is home to a good portion of those former military personnel, and a recent survey by the Franchise Business Review sheds light on which brands do the most for veterans.

The restaurant industry ranked as the second most popular choice for veterans in the Review’s annual Veterans & Franchising report. “Food, I think, more than any other industry in franchising, is obviously very specific to operations and being a good operator,” says Eric Stites, CEO of the Franchise Business Review. “I think those same skills are very common among veteran franchisees.”

Stites adds that many of these veteran franchisees are an older generation of former military men and women. “When you’re talking about veterans, a lot of people picture a guy walking off the battlefield from Afghanistan or Iraq and coming home and buying a company,” he says. “The reality is that the majority of veterans in franchising today, whether they’re in [quick service] or some other industry, are people that served many years ago.”

Of the restaurant brands within the top 25 best brands, quick serves like Kona Ice, Auntie Anne’s, and Firehouse Subs outshined full-service brands, coming in at No. 4, No. 19 and No. 21, respectively. “Those companies have great satisfaction with all their franchisees, not just their veteran franchisees,” Stites says.

To measure franchisee satisfaction, the Franchise Business Review’s survey asks respondents to rate the training and support, the operational procedures, innovation, senior management, community, financial opportunity, and more. Stites says that, of all those considerations, community may perhaps play the biggest role.

“Veterans are obviously very operationally focused and used to following a plan, but I also think culture is a huge component of that as well,” he says. “The reason people go into the military a lot of times is for team camaraderie, and a lot of franchise systems do have a strong culture, and quite honestly, some don’t.”

Firehouse Subs, the third best-ranking quick serve on the list, earns his accolades for its annual company convention, which the brand refers to as a family reunion. “You feel like you’re part of a family, and I think that’s definitely a component that veterans are attracted to,” he says and adds that some of the monetary incentives and discounts brands try to rely on may not matter.

“I think it boils down to the ongoing support in systems that franchisors have in place,” Stites says. 

By Tamara Omazic

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, News, Auntie Anne's, Firehouse Subs, Kona Ice