last updated 11/12/2019
I'm Lovin' It
last updated 11/12/2019
McDonald’s is offering a rare opportunity for new franchisees
McDonald’s, the best-known franchise in the world, is seeking applicants for its Franchisee Training Programme. For applicants willing to relocate anywhere across the North or South Islands, it could lead to opportunities to take over your own restaurant.
Todd McLoughlin and Marie Lamberth did just that ten years ago when they opened their first McDonald’s in Te Puke. Just a year later, they bought another in Papamoa, and have since built two thriving businesses.
The fact that neither of them had hospitality experience says much for McDonald’s training, systems and management. In fact, the couple were both detectives, having been in the police for many years before a chat with a former colleague over a barbecue led them to consider McDonald’s.
‘McDonald’s is famous for its 12-month, full-time training programme,’ says Todd. ‘You start from the ground up, learning every station in the business from mopping the floor to stock modules. Then there’s the management side, hiring policies, food safety, cost control and so on. There are no short cuts. Fortunately, there’s a lot of IT in the background and whatever you need to manage your business, the data is there when you look for it.’
Hit the ground running
After a year, Todd and Marie qualified and were offered a new restaurant in Te Puke. ‘We always expected to take over a restaurant with experienced crew who knew the processes, but instead we had to hit the ground running. With a one-year-old son at home, I was opening at 5am and closing at 11pm six days a week – it was exciting,’ laughs Todd. ‘Then we took the chance to buy Papamoa. But coming from the police we were used to long hours, and within three years we had a pretty good lifestyle.’
The other thing Todd and Marie had was man-management skills. ‘We knew how to motivate people, and that’s vital when you’re employing 100-plus staff. You might have 50-60 new crew members a year, and for many it will be their first-ever job, so you’re always training and sharing knowledge. One of the coolest things we do is watch people learn new skills, grow and then move on.
‘That applies to your managers, too. Empower them, give them targets to achieve, let them own the restaurant and send them on all the courses you can.’ It’s paid off: both Te Puke and Papamoa managers have won McDonald’s Restaurant Manager of the Year awards – ‘Twice each,’ says Todd proudly – while he and Marie are the reigning Franchisees of the Year.
Todd sits on the franchise’s NZ Leadership Group, which brings together franchisee representatives and McDonald’s management to discuss business plans, initiatives and implementation. A separate group focuses on marketing. ‘Hospitality is an ever-changing spiral and McDonald’s always tries to be innovative,’ Todd says. ‘Store designs, reducing sugar or fat content, and service platforms – we used to do just dine-in or drive-thru, now there’s Uber Eats, kiosks, phone apps …
‘A lot of this stuff has been 10 years in the planning, so you have to have confidence in the brand and system. We opened Te Puke just as kiwifruit disease hit the local economy, but today we have a strong, thriving business and the last five years have been “Wow”. Apply yourself and your turn will come.’
See the bigger picture
McDonald’s requires new franchisees to be individuals, not investors, with a minimum of $1.5 million unencumbered funds. ‘We are looking for people who are resilient, have strong business acumen and a willingness to adapt to change,’ says Bernadette Fowler of McDonald’s. What else?
‘You’ve got to be involved in your business and good at applying systems – everything is done a certain way for a reason,’ says Todd. ‘You’ve also got to see the bigger picture and be a part of the franchise as well as your local community. And be comfortable with re-investment – that’s what drives the business forward.’
Half-way through his 20-year franchise term, would Todd do it again? ‘Definitely,’ he says. ‘I’m lovin’ it.’
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