VetFran or VetSham? Why Good Franchisors Should Leave VetFran

Of all the sellers of fake credibility and unearned accolades to franchisors, the IFA’s VetFran program is perhaps the most despicable.  A tax-exempt, non-profit marketing ploy of the International Franchise Association, VetFran provides sellers of some of the worst, highest turnover franchise opportunities with the fake badges of credibility they need to prey on active military servicemembers, veterans and their families.  Reading their shameless, flag-draped communications, veterans are led to believe that VetFran-endorsed franchises have programs or policies enabling vets to succeed at higher rates than non-VetFran companies.  However, VetFran’s main requirements to display its logo is a discount equal to a minimal percentage of the total franchise investment and payment of the IFA or VetFran membership fee.  by Sean Kelly

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  Let’s just put it out there plainly:  The honest, aboveboard, legitimate franchisors who participate in fake industry credibility shams like Franchise Business Review and VetFran should be ashamed of themselves… and deeply embarrassed for letting themselves get duped.

If your company is truly and sincerely dedicated to the success of your franchisees and has made special accommodations for the needs of U.S. military veterans, take a moment to consider this:

Your support of and participation in VetFran is empowering unethical sellers to better deceive veterans into investing in their high-failure-rate, vet-indifferent “opportunities.”

VetFran franchise shamI get it.  If you have a franchise program that truly benefits military servicemembers and veterans, the VetFran logo communicates that, at a glance, to franchise prospects.

However, your support of VetFran, your participation in its promotions and the very presence of your legitimate company in the list of its 600 mostly un-vetted members lends unearned credibility to many questionable franchise offerings.

VetFran Says These Franchise Concepts Are as Vet-Friendly as Yours… Or More

Here are a just few of the concepts that VetFran is promoting to trusting military veterans:

Red Mango Franchise:  Is a 56.69% franchise turnover rate vet-friendly?

According to its 2019 FDD, between 2016-2018 Red Mango had 186 active franchise agreements.  It terminated 71 franchises, didn’t renew 1, had 3 additional closures and 23 transfers.  During that period, 98 franchises left the system – about 10 more than remained at the end of 2018.  Perhaps VetFran can tell us how many of those were veterans?

Planet Beach Franchise:  Is a 54.8% franchise turnover rate vet-friendy?

According to the Planet Beach 2019 FDD, between 2016-2018 it also had 186 active franchise agreements.  76 franchises ceased operation and 26 were transferred to different owners.  During that period, 102 franchises left the system – and just 84 remained open at the end of 2018.  Perhaps VetFran can tell us how many of the 108 were veterans?

Our Town America Franchise (5 Star Rating):  Is a 30% franchise turnover rate vet-friendly?

According to its 2020 FDD, between 2017-2019 Our Town America had 83 active franchise agreements.  10 franchises were terminated, 2 ceased operation and 12 were transferred to new owners.  During that period, 24 franchises left the system – and just 84 remained open at the end of 2018.  How many of the 24 were veterans, VetFran?

Doc Popcorn Franchise:  Is a 28% franchise turnover rate vet-friendly?

VetFranAccording to its 2019 FDD, between 2016-2018 Our Town America had 120 active franchise agreements.  1 franchise was terminated, 17 ceased operation and 4 were transferred to new owners.  During that period, 34 franchises left the system – and just 86 remained open at the end of 2018.  How many of the 24 were veterans, VetFran?

These four examples were chosen from a quick spot-check of known high-turnover franchises appearing in the current VetFran member directory.  They may not even be the worst, as I haven’t yet dug into such churners as Dickey’s BBQ, tool truck and commercial cleaning franchises on the list.

Legitimate franchisors:  If you have worked hard to maintain a franchise turnover rate much, much lower than 30% – 57%, why empower competitors who shouldn’t even be selling franchises to associate with you?

Why would you want your legitimate company associated with a program that obviously doesn’t care about the fate of military veterans or their families?

VetFran Says the PIRTEK Franchise is More Vet-Friendly Than Yours

Like Our Town America (30% turnover rate), PIRTEK is recognized as being one of the most vet-friendly franchisors in the nation (sorry, but more vet-friendly than your company, according to VetFran).  The December, 2019 press release titled “Veterans’ Advocacy Program Ranks Pirtek USA as High-Level Member” states:

VetFran, an advocacy program for U.S. military veterans, has ranked Pirtek USA as a “5 Star Franchisor Member” for its veteran-friendly policies and support of veterans’ causes.
The new ranking marks Pirtek’s rise from a “1 Star Franchisor Member” all the way up to the program’s highest level in only one year.

“We’re very happy with this new designation by VetFran, because it’s consistent with our strong commitment to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Kim Gubera, Pirtek USA’s CEO. “Pirtek will continue to help veterans become franchisees in our network. This new ranking shows us we’re moving in the right direction.”

What makes PIRTEK so gosh-darn vet friendly?  Well, PIRTEK extends a $10,000 veteran’s discount off its $50,000 franchise fee.  That veteran’s discount is just 2% of the total investment to open a PIRTEK franchise.  As if that’s not vet-friendly enough for you, PIRTEK makes an unspecified donation to a veteran’s foundation and sponsors a couple of veteran’s related sporting events.  As the franchisor has allocated 50% of the PIRTEK franchisees marketing fund to sponsorships, it’s not clear if the franchisor or the franchisees are making those donations.

“One of the First Things [Australian Owner] Glenn Duncan Did Was Take Down the Pictures of Military Veterans Honored at PIRTEK USA.”  – PIRTEK Franchisee

Glenn DuncanWhen VetFran upgraded PIRTEK’s vet-friendly rating from 1 to 5 stars in just one year, they obviously forgot to ask the former servicemembers at PIRTEK how vet friendly things have been since PIRTEK’s U.S. master franchise was taken over by its Australian franchise overlord, Glenn Duncan.

Prior to Duncan’s reign, PIRTEK was reportedly extremely proud and appreciative of the service of its military veterans, both its franchisees and employees.

PIRTEK actually had an entire wall in its warehouse dedicated to honoring those veterans.  According to franchisees and employees at the time, management’s respect for veterans was not just a marketing or PR gimmick.  It was authentic.

Then the Australians took over in 2016.  According to one insider:

“One of the first things Glenn Duncan did when he took over PIRTEK USA was to take down the pictures of all military veterans honored at PIRTEK USA.

Many people can corroborate this.”

Another insider mourns the shift that occurred at PIRTEK under the leadership of Glenn Duncan and current CEO Kim Gubera:

“They completely have done away with Top Gun, Black Ops, national contest to win prizes. 

They even took the Veteran’s Wall down in the warehouse. 

Zero family feel… all business. 

And that attitude trickled down to the franchisees.

Totally different company than it was… the company doesn’t care… it’s all about money”

Franchisors, Show That You Care About Military Veterans.  Quit The Vet Sham.

Legitimate franchisors:  It’s time to reject those who peddle false and unearned credibility to franchise competitors with offerings so much weaker than your own.

You don’t need them.  We shouldn’t be letting failed and failing franchise systems prey on trusting veterans and others who would likely succeed with a legitimate franchise program.

Let’s stop pretending that programs like VetFran and Franchise Business Review are anything other than what they are:  Nicely dressed and politely speaking sellers of deception.

If legitimate franchisors stop supporting them, and start calling BS where it’s warranted, you’ll have a larger and stronger pool of franchise prospects and we’ll be able to start repairing the reputation of franchising that’s been damaged by good people and good franchisors remaining silent.

Quit the Vet Sham today!



PIRTEK USA related:

PIRTEK NASCAR Cup Debut Wows Empty Seats at Darlington

Autopsy of PIRTEK NASCAR Cup Sponsorship Debut: Expert Opinions Invited

PIRTEK NASCAR Cup Sponsorship – The Caution Flag is Out

As Pressure Mounts, Franchisee Associations Push Back

PIRTEK USA Letter to Kim Gubera, PIRTEK CEO



Franchise Ownership?  There’s No Such Thing




TAGS: VetFran, International Franchise Association, franchises for veterans, PIRTEK franchise opportunity, PIRTEK franchise, PIRTEK USA, Glenn Duncan, Kim Gubera, Our Town America Franchise, Doc Popcorn franchise, Planet Beach franchise, Red Mango franchise, franchise marketing, franchise advertising, franchise scams, franchise complaints, franchise failure rates, marketing to veterans, unhappy franchise

4 thoughts on “VetFran or VetSham? Why Good Franchisors Should Leave VetFran

  • All companies and individuals discussed on UnhappyFranchisee.Com have an open invitation to provide corrections, clarifications, rebuttals and statements of their viewpoints which we will address and publish. I sent PIRTEK Kim Gubera and Chairman Glenn Duncan this email for their side of things. Transparency does not come easy for franchisors who are not accustomed to being challenged, I guess.
    Kim & Glenn:
    Although today’s post is primarily about the integrity of the VetFran Program, you both are mentioned in regard to the removal of the Veteran’s Wall honoring veterans shortly after Glenn’s arrival.  As I have no direct knowledge, please share whether that’s true, whether you intend to have such a wall at your new offices, etc.  Here’s the post:

    I debated whether emphasis on Glenn’s Australian background was a cheap shot, but decided to leave it in.  I imagined that if I had moved to Australia, I would probably not have the same emotional connection to Australian military veterans, so maybe it’s a factor.  If you take exception to that, or anything else, please include it in your response, which I’ll be glad to publish.
    There is an open question related to the marketing fund.  There were references in Kim’s VetFran press release to donations to the Kyle’s non-profit, as well as sponsorship of a snocross race and logoed boats at a fishing event.  Were any of these donations made with funds from the franchisee marketing fund?  There was mention of the Snocross event involving franchisee recruitment.  That would not be an appropriate use of the marketing fund, am I correct?
    Have you forgotten about my questions regarding the NASCAR sponsorships & the marketing fund?
    Back to today’s post:  How do you feel about the misrepresentation of the VetFran 5-Star program that you participate in?  Are you comfortable being in the same category of Our Town America?  VetFran says 5 Star franchises must have 18% “continuity” for the past 3 years.  However, their formula for continuity (“turnover”) rather sneakily excludes transfers.  The turnover for this slippery little direct mail Our Town scheme is 29%. 
     What about the others, like Planet Beach and Red Mango?  Should a supposedly Vet-friendly organization even accept franchisors with a 57% turnover rate… at any level?
    I hope that you will take me up on my invitation to engage in a productive discussion and share your viewpoint.  Attorneys often advise clients not to engage… which might be advisable from a legal standpoint but not so much from a public relations standpoint.  If I were a prospective franchisee, I’d respect a franchisor willing to address tough but valid questions rather than pretending they are not being asked.
    Anyway, have a good weekend!

  • I am a VA Attorney helping veterans with appeals all over the US/all 50 states, as well as pre-filing consults. I deal with many vulnerable veterans, including homeless veterans, and every day I fight for them and spend time with them….listen to them and hear them. This article is eye-opening. This topic urgently needs to be addressed by military government leaders, Attorney General military protection divisions, FTC, and other.

  • Burt Landon

    If Pirtek didn’t tear down the veterans honor wall at Pirtek home office then shouldn’t they just clarify what actually happened?

    Seems like it would be an easy thing to correct if it is untrue?

  • Leslie:

    Thanks for sharing the post and thanks for the real work you do on behalf of military veterans. The voices of those who are truly out there helping vets seems to be overpowered by those waving the flag and saying “thank you for your service” in order to sell them stuff or use them to improve their image. It’s pretty sickening.

    Burt: I agree. They have a huge new office building, 5X the size of what they had previously. I wonder if a Veteran’s Wall was drawn into the plans? Most telling would be: What did they do with the actual framed photographs on that wall? Do they have them, or did they toss them in a dumpster?

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