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Interviews
Elaine Steiro, Franchisee
Business Management & Human Resources

Elaine Steiro, Franchisee

Elaine is an Owner Operator of two McDonald's stores, one in Dundalk and the other in Monaghan. She went to Grange Community College in Donaghmede, and followed this with an Art and Design course in Colaiste Dhulaigh. She decided against an art and design career and instead chose to work in McDonald's full time. With that experience, she decided to become a Franchisee - a risky decision that allowed her to be her own boss and follow her own directions.

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first question!

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

  • Choosing to become a Manager and be full time in McDonald's - this was a biggy as it was a definite decision to not continue studying Art & Design and to stay in McDonald's full time, no going back!!
  • Deciding to be a Franchisee. This was difficult as I was making the leap to become my own boss and to live on my own earnings as opposed to the security of regular salaried payments. Would I like the extra pressure?
  • I had learned very early on to take leaps of faith and with the right ethos & positive thinking to do well, you will succeed.
  • My team sports and academic projects (debating etc..) taught me to be brave and prepared and that will set you apart ...

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

I would say the teachers that I have had all along were excellent .

Even in primary school they paid attention to me and helped me. Even when I didn't realise it at the time, that I could achieve things & do things well .

My senior managers in my early days of McDonald's, helped me to know what to do and why I should make certain decisions. I still use skills learned from them in my working day today.

How did you go about getting your current job?

I was looking for a part time job whilst studying and a friend suggested that I apply to McDonald's. I applied, had an interview  and was contacted a day later to say I was successful.

To become a Manager, I had to reach a certain grade & pass particular training courses to be considered.

Describe a typical day?

A normal day would include:

  • Visiting one of the two restaurants.
  • Have a schedule of tasks to do & some to check with the restaurant/ senior manager .
  • Reviewing the previous days results & follow up on any issues if needed .
  • I make phone calls and respond to e-mails.
  • Work on the floor to see how operations standards were being maintained.
  • Follow up on any work requested previously.
  • Ensure that I record any tasks that I must complete or have promised Managers to send them information etc.
  • Go to the other restaurant and cover a similar agenda .

Business pressures are daily & we must follow up and adjust our plans to ensure that we stay on target. Results are looked at daily and weekly and monthly. It is very easy to see how things are going.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

I am the owner operator. It is my responsibility to see that the business is successful and growing.  I must ensure that all McDonald's systems are in place and meeting standards, whilst meeting my own targets and goals for the employees and business. I set up all systems in the store and ensure that my business plan is being achieved.

What are the main challenges?

I believe that when you are dealing with the public you are most challenged by knowing what will attract your customers to you.

In a harsh economic climate, a visit to McDonald's is seen as a luxury / treat for most people. I need to keep relevant and think of different ways to encourage people to come to me. There are always extra costs appearing, especially costs that you don't receive any goods for and cannot control ie. taxes, rates, etc... these can be difficult to manage in your business.

Most things are expected - labour costs , food costs, utilities and you can plan for those . It's a balancing act and you must keep changing to succeed.

What's cool?

It's cool to do something I love everyday and that I get to travel the country for meetings experiencing different business opinions.

I also have the whole world as a research lab, with the back up of a global brand and many franchisees who share our business. It's very cool to speak with a counterpart from the other side of the world and share ideas and connect very easily.

What's not so cool?

Not much to be honest, sometimes it can feel pressured to achieve results every hour, every day etc.... we have to watch every penny, all of the time.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I am the person who manages our budgets and our people.

I am the planner, so I make out our budgets in advance which guides our business plans.

Personally, I like being organised, prepared and my methodical approach to most things is well suited to budgets and planning. I like interacting with people and seeing them grow.

I am a very positive person, and I like to encourage people to achieve things.

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

I took Art, Spanish, Business Studies & Home Economics.

I would say that they really didn't influence my career path, however, I did learn from my extra curricular activities that I liked working in groups and I could see how hard work paid off and was very fulfilling.

I would say that I would have liked more guidance and should have asked for more direction from people who could have pointed out my strengths to me earlier...

What is your education to date?

I went to Grange Community College in Donaghmede, where I completed the leaving cert. Then I completed a PLC Art & Design Course in Colaiste Dhulaigh.

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

Secondary school was the best experience as it taught me to work with groups, understand how to adapt to one other and more diverse opinions.

This has helped me no end, as I still deal with new opinions & different types of people daily .

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

I have been recognised as a restaurant manager for sales & target records. I am the chairperson of the national Marketing group for the Operators in Ireland, where I can help to steer the company through the marketing plan with McDonald's Ireland .

I am one of 4 female operators out of 28. I am involved in the decision making/ planning process for McDonald's, not just my own restaurants. I find this very fulfilling.

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

I am first and foremost an organised person. I am very logical, practical, ambitious and optimistic .

My personality is said to be quirky. I can be competitive & impatient - so these have to be balanced and contained so as not to be destructive.

What is your dream job?

I am truly happy being my own boss in an ever changing business ...

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

At the beginning, I worked a schedule.

However, now I have a workload and at this stage I have the flexibility to be able to attend school functions, family functions , arrange my holiday time, and many other lifestyle choices whilst still undertaking my career responsibilities. It's a great balance.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

If you are considering starting in the food/ catering or hospitality sectors, you should consider whether you like working shift work and you should like working in a pressured environment .

It is a very fulfilling and rewarding sector to work in though and every day is different with new skills being added to your skillset all of the time . If you are considering moving into the management side of things, then you should be able to co ordinate tasks and people to achieve results and you should like an ever changing work environment.

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

You must be:

  • Practical/ logical
  • Optimistic and have a positive outlook
  • Energetic and have stamina

What is your favourite music?

I like most types of music - currently Florence & The Machine, Maverick Sabre are in my car's cd player. Madonna and Paul Weller are always nearby too ...

What is your favourite film?

I would say "Ferris buellers day off" as it made me laugh then and makes me and my kids laugh now - but more recently I liked "Inception" and "The Girl with the dragon tattoo" and "Lincoln Lawyer" ...

What is your pet hate at work?

People ringing in sick for their shift today and telling you that they will be in for their shift tomorrow - 'cos they are not really sick at all and of course they know they will be in tomorrow !!! It doesn't happen very often anymore ....

What is your star sign?

Aquarius

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

No, not at the moment, however, I wouldn't rule it out. I have an interest in the accountancy and taxation side of our business.

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

  • Working in a coffee shop or similar environment to gain experience of working with people & dealing one on one with customers.
  • Working in any kitchen environment to get "food" experience .
  • Also, working in a Creche to get experience with working with children and their parents.

What is your current job title?

McDonald's Franchisee Owner Operator Monaghan & Dundalk.

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