Amanda Crow’s story should be made into a movie. At just 27 years old, she’s already easily lived lifetimes of happiness, tragedy, and, ultimately, success.
Born and raised in a small Northern Virginia town, Crow graduated from high school in 2002 and set her sights on attending Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk. After applying, she realized that the cost was prohibitive to her and her family and turned to waitressing as a way to make a living. About six months later, a recruiter from the U.S. Navy asked her to join the service. She jumped at the opportunity.
Training followed. Crow was assigned the job of a parachute rigger, someone who packed parachutes for Navy SEALS. She spent time in Pensacola, Florida and was then assigned to work in a test parachute program.
“Anything that could save your life—helmets, parachutes—it was my job to test it,” says Crow. “We went out to the Mohave Desert and would jump one day and pack parachutes the next day.”
From 2005 through 2008, she was stationed in San Diego and, during that time, was deployed three times. In May 2007, she was deployed to Guam and there met Jeremy Crow, her future husband. He was also on deployment with the Navy. The pair married in September 2009.
After their wedding, the couple settled in Norfolk, staying active in military service. In January 2010 when an earthquake hit Haiti, Amanda was sent on an emergency deployment to the third world country, aboard a Navy ship. She received a gift from Jeremy on Valentine’s Day and talked to him on the phone that night. In the days that followed, she was unable to reach her husband.
“He was supposed to be in school in Virginia for that week, but I couldn’t get in touch with him and I started getting worried,” Amanda says. “I had a friend drive by the house, and they saw nothing.”
After days without word from Jeremy, Amanda begged two friends to break into the house. What they found was horrifying. Jeremy had been murdered.
Amanda was sent back to Virginia to meet her family and organize memorial services. That was February 2010. Amanda retired from the Navy in December the same year. To this day, Jeremy’s case has not been solved.
While trying to process her next steps and finishing paperwork to leave the service, Amanda looked into other opportunities. Over the previous Christmas, she and Jeremy had discussed opening a PostNet location, a franchised printing and shipping business. They’d visited the location in Virginia Beach several times and thought it would be a good career move post-military.
With the goal still in her mind, she opened up her own location on Oct. 27, 2010, a few months before ending her military commitment.
From veteran to franchise owner
Amanda’s location is in Ocean View, about eight miles from downtown Norfolk.
How are things going? “Really well; we are up 40 percent from last year and have three employees,” she says. “I actually plan to purchase the Virginia Beach location in the next couple months.”
In order to purchase the location, Amanda needs extra cash, so she’s turned to Springster, a crowd funding site, for help. “The site recently started a program called ‘Boost A Hero,’ which allows people to donate to causes for veterans,” she says. “I’m on there with one other veteran.” (Note: at press time, Amanda had raised $2,232 of her $90,000 goal.)
As for the future, Amanda plans to continue opening PostNet locations and hopes to someday open one on a Navy base. For now though, things are going well.
“I’m running my business and I’m going to school,” she says. “Actually, I’m going to Virginia Wesleyan College, my dream school.”
Advice for fellow franchisees
Amanda offers four piece of advice for small business owners considering buying a franchise:
- Call other franchises and ask them about their experiences. Target current and past franchise owners.
- Talk to the parent company about how they will help you make money. Remember: if you are not making money, they aren’t either.
- Try to shadow another franchise owner before you launch your own location. It is great experience and can help answer your questions.
- Pick a franchise that you will enjoy. I have a blast every day.
Photo credit: Amanda Crow