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Brenda O Loughlin, Franchisee
Sales, Retail & Purchasing

Brenda O Loughlin, Franchisee

Brenda O'Loughlin is a McDonald's Franchisee.  When she finished her Leaving Certificate, she went on to do the Accounting Technicians course in Rathmines. During her last year in college she was offered a temporary job in Citibank, which she instantly loved and she remained there for the next 18 years. Her Banking experience gave her the skills she needed to start working for herself.

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first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

I don't remember deliberately making any real career decisions while I was at school. My best friend wanted to nurse and since I knew that was not for me, I choose business subjects instead.

After leaving school I went to the College of Commerce in Rathmines to do the Accountants Technicians course. While I was in my last year I was offered a temporary job in Citibank which I took and instantly loved. I knew I was in the right place and wanted to stay.

The course I had just completed was relevant to the work I was doing and is still relevant to my life today. My temporary job turned into an 18 year career. Leaving Citibank was a milestone but I felt I had gained enough experience to try working for myself.  McDonald's seemed right as it is a system that works.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

Many people influence your career direction. My parents while at school helped me make decisions on subject choices and made me look realistically at my options.  People I worked with over the years who made opportunities available to me and my partner who believed that we could be McDonald's Franchisees.

How did you go about getting your current job?

McDonald's were advertising franchising opportunities on their tray liners, so I called them and asked for the relevant forms which I filled out and sent back. I was interviewed and offered a one week 'on the job experience' to see if, after that, I would like to continue with my application. It also gave McDonald's the opportunity to see if I'd be a good fit for them.

I completed the week and was requested to write a detailed description of my experiences. I was then interviewed with my partner by a panel of McDonald's senior managers and we were told on the same day that I had been accepted on the Registered Applicants program.

Describe a typical day?

My days are varied. Usually one of the first things I do on a Monday is to check the crew schedules for the following week. I check our sales figures, cash, emails and do a little office work. If I'm not at a meeting, I'll help with lunch service. After lunch it could be office work, interviews, orders or meetings.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My main tasks and responsibilities are the well being of our customers and crew - from ensuring that everyone is in a safe environment to serving quality products and ensuring that our business remains financially sound.

What are the main challenges?

Keeping up-to-speed with everything is challenging. As a group of Operators/Franchisees we are fairly organised and each of us helps the system by being part of a group or committee that looks at one aspect of our business for the greater good of all. I sit on a Financial and Legal group and also on a group called McServices where we try to bulk buy services such as utilities.

What's cool?

Having a good month financially. Crew and equipment all working in harmony during the busiest hour of the week. Getting good results from Mystery Diners.

What's not so cool?

When we get it wrong and have an unsatisfied customer.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

McDonald's have great systems to make the business work. The skill is to learn the process, teach the process and manage the process.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

I chose business studies and accountancy while at school and immediately after school I did an accountants technicians course.  Accountancy was a good choice for me and added to the experience I gained while working for Citibank,  I am comfortable completing my companies P&L's, managing my cash flows and planning financials for the future.  Did I choose well as a student? Luckily yes.

What is your education to date?

I went to the Community School in Cabinteely and besides the mandatory and business subjects, I took Geography and French. I also completed an Accounting Technicians course in the College of Further Education in Rathmines.

I completed a number of courses in the bank such as Internal Control, Personal Development, Managing for Break Through Performance and Giving Performance Appraisals.

Since starting in this business with McDonald's I have taken courses in Floor Control, Shift Management, Food Safety, First Aid, Presentation Skills, Business Controls, Hospitality, Business and Restaurant Leadership.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

I think you can take something from any course you attend. The courses run and provided by McDonald's Restaurants of Ireland are particularly relevant for running a successful restaurant.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Promotions in my last career and being accepted as a McDonald's Franchisee. We won the Top Operator Performance for Quality, Service and Cleanliness for 2007 and a best store Hospitality Award the previous year.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

I don't have any 'special' qualities but I do feel that with focus and determination you will succeed.

What is your dream job?

I have my dream job - I work for myself but also have the support of the group as a whole.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes, we have a good lifestyle. The first 4 to 5 years as Franchisees was all consuming but we knew that once we established our business we would have time to enjoy our interests and hobbies. We enjoy water sports in particular and live near Lough Derg. Our job allows us to make our own schedule and that's a huge difference.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

I guess I would tell anyone considering this job that they need to be able to multi task, have good people and communication skills and be prepared to work hard.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

1. People Skills.
As well as the many customers we serve on a daily basis, an average drive thru McDonald's would have a staff of approximately 40 people. Our crew in this store are made up of 8 nationalities, age ranges from 16 to over 40 and skill sets vary greatly. You need to find the best in all these people, be fair, decisive, train them, listen to them and allow them to do their jobs.

2. Hardworking.
A lot of time and effort is required to start up a business, especially one that is new to you. You need to be able to roll up your sleeves and work along side the crew when required. You need to be honest about what you can do, what you need to learn, what you will never be able to do yourself and find people who can.

3. Time Management.
As the owner of the business you need to make sure all the basics are covered. Legal requirements, food safety, health and safety, customers service, crew, money, equipment, cleanliness, suppliers, orders, deliveries, marketing, attend meetings, plan the business and take time off.

What is your favourite music?

Tragically 70's and 80's.

What is your favourite film?

I have many but The Jungle Book and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe would always be on the list.

What is your pet hate at work?

When technology doesn't work.

What is your star sign?


Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

I'm always open to further training and would do any course that becomes available to me.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Any job where you manage people, money and would be involved with food preparation.

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