Using The Pain Of Growth To Prosper: The Story Of Ned Stagg’s Mcdonald’s Franchises
For many prospective business owners, the fear of the obstacles ahead prevents them from pursuing their dreams: long work hours, no vacation, and the pains of becoming a successful leader. For Ned Stagg, who opened his first McDonald’s franchise nearly 20 years ago and has since expanded to 35 locations, the challenge motivated him. Through his entrepreneurial experience, he’s thrived by instilling a sense of community in his McDonald’s team, and by giving back to the community of San Antonio, the city he serves.
Like many stories of entrepreneurship, Stagg’s began with a leap of faith. On a flight to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1982, he opened a copy of Black Enterprise Magazine, which said that McDonald’s was the No. 1 franchise opportunity for African Americans. At the time, he was working in the oil business but he knew he wanted to work for himself one day.
Stagg continued working in the oil industry for over a decade, saving up enough money to start his first franchise. When he was ready, he quit his job, applied to open a McDonald’s in San Antonio, and spent 18 months in training, all unpaid. This was difficult, he admits, but it laid the groundwork for his future success.
“When I first started, I was just happy to be a McDonald's owner and operator, and I really struggled the first three months. But after about six months we got it going,” he says. Starting a business from the ground up required hiring a full staff, training them, and learning how to be a leader. It took a little time, but “after about a year I said, ‘Oh, I can do this again,’ so we did six restaurants in the first six years.”
“When I first started, I was just happy to be a McDonald's owner and operator, and I really struggled the first three months. But after about six months we got it going.”
His capacity to open a new restaurant every year for his first six years began with having the right employees and a team he could rely on. Stagg looks for two things in the hiring process: integrity and a good work ethic. He wants employees that have ambition.
“We hire for crew to become managers, to become general managers of the restaurant, to become supervisors. That's the kind of ambition that we're looking for. So that's what we hire. We hire for folks who actually want my job,” he says.
He likes employees with ambition because they’re motivated, and he wants to reward their gumption with opportunities. He cares about giving his employees the chance to take care of their families and do something different with their lives. And he knows employees with ambition and integrity are people he can depend on, which is essential for growing a business. Stagg needs trustworthy supervisors to run the day-to-day at different locations, so he can focus on the bigger picture.
Through hiring the right people, he’s able to build a team that feels like a community, where there’s mutual inspiration. “I enjoy working with the team I have ... they motivate me to just do the best I can because they are doing the best they can do to take care of guests on both sides of the counter,” he says. With everyone aspiring to be their best, Stagg and his team are able to properly represent themselves and the McDonald’s brand.
“I enjoy working with the team I have ... they motivate me to just do the best I can because they are doing the best they can do to take care of guests on both sides of the counter.”
Stagg also cares about giving back to the community that he’s a part of, which he believes is essential to the success of any business. He understands that the relationship between his business and the community he serves is reciprocal. “We're in the schools, we're in daycares, we're everywhere we can be. We invite folks in, we have family fun nights, we do arts and crafts with the kids and their parents and their grandparents. We have reading programs, we donate books,” he says, “We realize a lot from the community, but we like to give back as well.”
Success, for Stagg, is all about a good work ethic. He leads by example, following the saying, “the pace of the pack is determined by the lead dog.” To keep his employees motivated, he not only leads, but empowers them, valuing his relationships and instilling a sense of community within his team.
Stagg extends this sense of community by giving back to San Antonio, where his business began and continues to expand. The initial pain of building his franchises from the ground up was difficult, but to Stagg, his ability now to provide for his family, empower his employees, and give back to the city of San Antonio made the struggle more than worthwhile.
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