What is it like to own a McDonald’s franchise? An interview with Franco Ventura

I am SO EXCITED to share today’s interview with you. A while back I went behind-the-scenes at McDonalds and loved it. It was so interesting to see the process behind the famous business we all know so well. I was really pleased to have the chance to chat with franchisee Franco who runs 3 restaurants in Rotherham. I was fascinated by his story and knew that I wanted to share it with you. Something that particularly stood out to me was that although McDonalds is a big business it’s still made up of small and locally owned businesses. I also love that they put a lot of time into supporting local charities.

I hope you enjoy today’s interview with Franco Ventura.

Please tell us a little about yourself

I’m a McDonald’s franchisee and run three restaurants in Rotherham. I’m a local boy and was born and educated in the area. I am married and have a wonderful seven-year daughter called Chiara. Spending time with my family is very important to me, I come from an Italian background and we spend a lot of time together especially round a dinner table! I enjoy cooking and can often be found preparing lunch for my family.  I am a Rotherham United fan, enjoy playing squash a couple of times a week and love taking my 10-year-old pug “Elvis” on walks around the countryside close to where I live.

What did you do before running your first McDonald’s franchise?

Before I became a McDonald’s franchisee, I spent 30 years working for McDonald’s in various roles. I started in the Rotherham town centre restaurant when I was 16 years old, as I needed a part-time job to help me finance my love of watching Rotherham United.

I enjoyed working in the restaurant so much that I went full time and very quickly became part of the management team. I was made Business Manager at 23 years old which meant I was running a McDonald’s restaurant, then did a stint in the training department in Italy, before being promoted to run a group of restaurants in West Yorkshire. I then managed groups of restaurants in South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire, before taking the opportunity to manage the Northern Ireland market and then also Scotland.

On my return to England, I worked on several projects within McDonald’s HQ in London, before returning out to the field as a Director where I managed two different regions. I was promoted to the Executive team in 2010 and was responsible for the 430 company owned restaurants and then became Vice President of Operations North, where I was responsible for the operations of both company-owned and franchised restaurants. It’s not rare for someone in the Executive team to start their career with McDonald’s by working in the restaurants, in fact a third of the current team have.

Why did you decide to go down the route of franchising?

When I was the Operations Consultant in North Nottinghamshire, I was given the opportunity to train a new franchisee within my group. I have always been thorough in what I do so became a bit of an expert in franchising and how it worked which made me realise I could own my own business and work within a successful framework. Over 80% of restaurants in the UK are now franchised and the number is only set to increase, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity to own my own business, whilst still working with the same company I’ve known and loved for 30 years.

How do you go about setting up a McDonald’s franchise?

I had extensive knowledge of the process but still read all the relevant materials that are available, I also compared the McDonald’s franchising model to other franchised businesses. The McDonald’s franchising team are real experts in helping you set up your business and have agreements with various third-party businesses that can all help.

What is a typical work-day like?

There is no such thing as typical day at McDonald’s, each day is varied! On some days you’ll be reviewing building plans or overseeing recruitment, the next you’ll be involved in local community activities or local business steering groups. Not forgetting the administration that comes with running a business!

What is the support like from McDonalds?

The one thing that I believe sets McDonald’s apart from other franchised businesses is the support you receive as a franchisee. McDonald’s has over 170 franchisees in the UK and Ireland, who are supported by a huge franchising team internally and have been for the 30 years McDonald’s has been operating as a franchised business in the UK. Each franchisee works with a Franchisee Consultant who supports and helps us drive our business and this is especially important when you’re starting out as a new franchisee. Communication and engagement from the business is strong, we’re updated on how the business is performing as a whole regularly and we can be involved in everything from marketing to product development.

What advice would you give to aspiring McDonald’s franchise owners?

I would encourage anyone interested in franchising to meet and review as many franchised businesses as possible, to really discover what support is available from the franchisor and how their business works. They should also attend an open day or exhibition to meet the McDonald’s franchising team and speak with as many existing franchisees as possible to get a real understanding of the how the system works and what opportunities it can bring.

How do you give back to the local community?

First of all, we employ local people and provide great employment opportunities. In my first seven months as a franchisee, we have promoted eight people in to management positions, promoted ten new staff trainers and put one manager on to a degree programme. We are also actively involved in grassroots football, with many restaurants being linked to a local team and through McDonald’s partnership with the FA. We take part in town centre management meetings and work with local Councillors to identify areas of opportunity for our Love Where You Live campaign. I also work with Grim & Co, who are a charity based on improving reading and writing skills through imagination.

What’s your usual order at McDonalds?

I am very promiscuous around the menu! Double cheeseburger, Big Mac, the Signature Collection and Filet-o-fish all on my radar!!

Are you planning on opening any more restaurants?

At the moment I own the three restaurants but I know if I am doing the right things for my people, customers and the brand then I will have an opportunity to grow. I would love to focus on other local towns.

Is there a common misconception about McDonald’s that you’d like to clear up?

Our ingredients is the big one for me as we only use quality ingredients that are responsibly sourced. I would like people to do their own research into our food and ask us the questions, rather than read all the fake stories that are out there. There’s a lot of great information about our ingredients on our website – Good to Know. Secondly, I think it’s important people are aware that although we are a consistent business part of a large corporation, we are made up of lots of small businesses like mine that do contribute to the local community.

I want to say a massive thank you to Franco for taking the time to share his business journey with us. I think it’s a truly amazing story and shows what a simple part-time job can lead to. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the interview. 

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