Jason Clark, chief operations officer at McDonald’s UK, reveals what he looks for in a franchisee
Franchising is an alluring proposition and for those with the ambition, commitment and talent to make it work, owning a franchise is the perfect way to take control of a business, while avoiding many of the risks associated with starting out on your own.
We franchised our first restaurant in the UK in 1986 and now over 70 per cent of our restaurants are operated by franchisees. With 30 years’ experience of franchising, we know a thing or two about running a business and supporting the people who choose to invest in the McDonald’s brand - our franchisees.
Recent research conducted by McDonald’s Franchising found 25 per cent of senior decision makers over 40 were likely to want a change in their career - something we often see at McDonald’s, with many of our applicants coming to us for a second career.
Choosing the right franchisees to grow with our company is a key factor in the success of the brand. It’s about placing responsibility for the dayto- day operations of our restaurants in capable hands and working collaboratively to grow together.
Embracing the brand
We want to work with people who live and breathe the McDonald’s brand. As a brand ambassador, you’ll take our global personality and make it relevant to your community, while also being passionate about staying customer led.
At McDonald’s, we’re passionate about giving back - whether that’s through our charity work with Ronald McDonald House Charities or initiatives like the Football Association’s Grassroots Football Programme and our Environment Programme.
RMHC is an independent charity that provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with children in hospital.
There are currently 14 Ronald McDonald Houses across the UK and we encourage our franchisees to support and fundraise when and where they can. One even made it to Everest in their quest to help the charity.
We have an ongoing 14-year community partnership with the four home nation football associations and encourage our franchisees to get involved with their local grassroots clubs at every level.
Our programme focuses on supporting accredited grassroots clubs to help raise the standards of grassroots football across the UK through better safety, better advice, better coaching for better coaches, better kit, better support and better recognition for volunteers.
Helping protect the environment is of great importance to us and our franchisees. This year marks the sixth year of McDonald’s and Keep Britain Tidy’s ongoing partnership to help combat litter across the UK through regular clean-up events in local communities.
Our restaurants also patrol the streets at least three times a day to collect litter that has been discarded, regardless of its origin. Crew members across the UK cover a total of 3,000 miles each week on litter patrols, which equates to 150,000 miles a year and the distance of five marathons each year per store.
We do a lot for our communities and expect our franchisees to do the same.
Leading the way
Our franchisees can lead teams of 70 or more people, so we look for individuals who are inspirational, positive and empathetic. It’s much more than organising rotas and keeping performance high.
Every year we invest £40 million into training the teams in our restaurants and all our franchisees have to be ready to support that growth and development. We help our franchisees recruit and train staff members, who will grow into their careers, ready to take advantage of the opportunities given.
We’re a big business with an amazing record of success. We currently have over 160 franchisees in the system, who between them oversee 900 restaurants and over 70,000 employees.
Having recently celebrated 42 consecutive quarters of growth, we know what we’re doing and we’re always looking for new ways to grow. Our franchisees take the same approach, so you’ll need to be commercially sharp and hungry to grow and improve your franchise.
Across the UK, we’ve been working hard on new changes to our restaurants that will benefit each and every one of the 3.7 million customers our franchisees serve daily. This is our biggest transformation programme yet and one our franchisees are investing heavily in.
Digital innovation is at the heart of the transformation, with the focus on providing customers with more choice as to how they order and pay, while adapting how the food is prepared.
Some of these changes include new modern interiors, self order kiosks and wireless charging docks, as well as improved kitchen facilities to create an environment that’s even more welcoming and enjoyable.
We listen to our franchisees regularly and ensure they have a say in everything we do, whether it’s our marketing and advertising campaigns or new products. Both the Big Mac and Filet-O-Fish were developed by franchisees.
Taking on a franchise is an opportunity to take charge of a business that already has the support of an established and trusted brand, as well as proven, sophisticated systems and an excellent framework of support.
It’s also a fantastic opportunity for you and your team to be part of your local community and engage with key stakeholders. But franchising is by no means the easy option.
To build a strong team of 70-plus people and a thriving business takes time, investment and determination.
With franchising, you get out what you put in. If you give it your all, you will have the opportunity to create a successful business.
As well as a rewarding career, being your own boss allows you to set your own long-term career plan. You might want to build your business and take on more locations and you’ll certainly want to make each restaurant the best it can be.
The management of your restaurant will be down to you, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go it alone.
Our excellent training programme, together with guidance from one of our franchisee consultants, will give you the tools to help build your business.
When it comes to training and support, our franchisees receive some of the best in the industry.
That’s because we believe our success starts with yours. Our franchisee consultants have on average 20 years’ experience and will help you optimise sales and profitability, while keeping quality, service and cleanliness standards high.
You won’t become a McDonald’s franchisee overnight. We’ll be working together for at least 20 years, so we want to take time to get to know you and make sure you have the dedication, personality and communication skills we look for in all our ambassadors. You’ll want to get to know us too, as it’s a significant commitment.
The time taken to select a franchisee varies considerably and involves a thorough recruitment process in which applicants will undertake a number of interviews and in-restaurant evaluations.
In 2016 we invited eight applicants to join our training programme. While it’s an extensive selection process, we work hard to be as transparent as possible to ensure we make the right decision for both of us.
Add a minimum of nine months of training to our selection process and you can see why we only want to hear from people who share our passion, dedication and long-term goals.
A McDonald’s franchise is a longterm commitment, which is one of the reasons why we’re so selective. We want to work with the right people and running a successful restaurant business demands a particular set of skills.
While you don’t need experience in the food industry, it’s important you have the ability, passion and determination needed to lead your business and your team from the front.
In my 30 years at McDonald’s, in which 15 of those have been spent working with franchisees, I’ve seen our business change for the better across all areas. This can only be credited to the involvement and leadership of our franchisees.
Throughout my time in the business, I’ve had - and still have - the pleasure of working with many talented and diligent franchisees across the UK - great people who are passionate about their local area. In the years to come, I hope to work with many more.