Multi-unit McDonald’s franchisee talks to whichfranchise

John Kiely is a McDonald’s multi-unit franchisee in Coventry. Since opening his first restaurant in 2013, John currently owns 6 restaurants including 4 Drive Thru restaurants. In this exclusive interview with whichfranchise, John talks to us about the benefits of being a multi-unit franchisee, why he chose McDonald’s, challenges faced and his plans for the future with McDonald’s.

Name: John Kiely
Location: Coventry
Franchise: Jake Restaurants Ltd /As McDonald’s

Please tell us about your business:
I started as a Franchisee with McDonald’s by relocating to the Midlands and taking on my first restaurant which was a High Street Restaurant in Coventry City Centre in March 2013. I now have 6 restaurants in Coventry – the High Street Shopping Centre Restaurant and 4 Drive Thru Restaurants.

What is your business background?
Commercial background, mainly in the Construction sector, my last job was opening up satellite sales office worldwide for a UK Manufacturing company.

Why did you choose the fast food industry and McDonald’s?
I wanted my own UK business so I could be in charge of my own destiny and limit my travelling.  I looked at a lot of franchise opportunities from construction to retail. I chose McDonald’s as it was a big brand, well respected, always evolving and changing to suit customer expectations, they were not interested in me just for my money but more for the skills I had, including business development, strong P&L skills, building through people, customer centric, community ambassador and strong brand representative.

What’s are the benefits of being a multi-unit franchisee?
Spreading the cost of a structural organisation across stores, sharing skills at all levels, opportunity to develop staff across stores, benchmarking best practice, opportunity for greater involvement with local and city community, building a strong Coventry brand name and working with local companies to support your requirements.

What training and support did you receive initially and on-going?

  • 9 months training, working in restaurants and developing from a crew member to a Business Manager – this enabled me to know every job role and requirements of a busy restaurant.
  • In restaurant and Head Office training courses
  • Support of a Franchisee Consultant every step of the way to answer any questions and develop my skills.
  • All office functions at my disposal – marketing, HR, Finance, legal etc.

How would you describe your role as a multi-unit franchisee?  What is your management style/method?
My role is to set the vision for the organisation, to have strict guidelines in place for roles and responsibilities, to make sure we have an organisation in place that allows for coaching at all levels, encourage democratic discussion and decision making that reflects the needs of the business, customers and employees. My management styles can change based on the circumstances but are based around democratic and coaching teams. This aligned with the strong Franchise framework of McDonald’s works really well.

What are some of the challenges you have faced being a multi-unit franchisee, and how did you overcome them?
As your organisation grows the impact you can have individually can diminish as you spend less time than you would have done working with individuals and more time working through your managers. The key is to make sure you are visible around your stores, the hierarchy is recognised, there is always an open door to yourself if required and you prioritise your time on the needs of the business and the different restaurants. I find that I spend more time in the newer restaurants to help them to adapt to the changes that they will encounter so that they are understood and less challenging.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to become a multi-unit franchisee?
My success has come from identifying and nurturing talent so that as your business grows, the team that you have developed, are ready and equipped to support your new units. If financially possible, get your team ready to take on the new units before they come along. Also, do not forget your existing employees as they will be excited about their opportunities in a larger organisation. Organisational growth requires talent planning and development at all levels. Also, strong financial planning to make sure you are ready for growth.

What are the company’s plans for developing the business and your own personal plans for your business?
My plans are to keep growing the business organically through investment in existing restaurants and excellent customer service but also, where financially viable, and aligned to McDonald’s plans, to purchase other restaurants.  This will allow me to continue to develop and promote the great talent we are nurturing in the business and become a bigger contributor to the local community.

What advice can you give someone who dreams of becoming a successful multi-unit franchisee?
Make sure you are prioritising the unit[s] that you have already as them being successful financially, and continually developing talent, will allow your business to grow when it is ready. Business is all about developing talent with existing or new employees and giving them recognition for the great contribution that they make. Alongside strong financial discipline, and alignment to your partner Franchisor, your business will grow.