Kate Walker had never worked for McDonald's before she secured her first franchised restaurant at Bellshill near Glasgow in 2004. She and her husband, who helps run the franchises, have since added two more restaurants to their portfolio in Scotland.
Prior to owning her own McDonald's restaurant, Kate had a vast amount of experience in advertising and she feels that seeing the business from a consumer's point of view was a big advantage. She's a mum with three kids so she was a regular visitor to McDonald's with a keen eye for detail and an acute understanding of what customers want. 'There's always a danger that you get caught up in the processes and overlook the effect on the customer,' she says. 'I think I'm less likely to do that.'
As a result, sales in her restaurants have gone up substantially ahead of the market. Her restaurants are continuing to perform strongly, even through challenging times and in 2008 she completed a restaurant re-image which has been received well by both customers and staff.
In addition to this employee motivation is high, with a lot of staff wanting to take training courses and progress up the career ladder. In fact, Kate's business was shortlisted for the People In Excellence award at the 2009 Lanarkshire Business Excellence Awards for her commitment to the learning and development of her workforce. 'People development is really important in this business,' says Kate. 'Instilling pride in what you do so that people take responsibility for their role - that's absolutely key.'
She is a dedicated supporter of the charity, RMHC, serving on the fund-raising committee for the Yorkhill Ronald McDonald House annual ball, as well as carrying out other charity work in her local community each month. McDonald's recognised her relentless energy and enthusiasm in the business in 2008 by awarding her the prestigious Three Legged Stool award. Only three franchise owners a year are recognised in this way so it is a notable achievement and one Kate is very proud of.