PERSEVERANCE AND DEDICATION MAKES SUSAN ROCK N’ ROLL
In 1995, McDonald’s South Africa opened its first restaurant in the country and today, it operates with over 260 restaurants in nine provinces, and is one of the most successful brand names in South Africa and the world. The brand has also opened up entrepreneurship opportunities for female franchisees in the industry and we are proud to share the stories of two of these female leaders. When one door shuts another one opens. However, in the case of Susan Rawoteea one door closed, when she got retrenched from a blue chip firm in the 1990 and no open door was in sight. Since the entrepreneurial Susan was done with the corporate world she took on waitressing jobs in Johannesburg and Durban to make a living while she planned her next move. “I said to myself, I don’t want to go back to into the corporate world because I’d be stuck there.” Then the door opened and Susan landed a McDonald’s restaurant as a franchisee 21 years ago. To raise funds to buy Rock ’n Roll, she sold everything she had and rented a flat. Her McDonald’s Rock ’n Roll restaurant, located on Sandton’s busy Rivonia Road, employs almost 70 people today and is open 24/7. While she now has four restaurants in her portfolio, for Susan, it is the opportunity to bring good food to customers and make a difference in the lives of her team members that matters the most. “It’s extremely rewarding to see people growing and developing,” she says, speaking highly of her driven team and advising fellow entrepreneurs to respect and take care of human capital, their “most important asset”. Another critical asset in her own life is her innate will to succeed. As an athlete, the former Springbok swimmer knows well that excellence does not occur by default. She approaches her career from the same angle. “In swimming, every second counts. Swimmers put in hours and hours of training for a 5-10 minute performance or maybe shorter. At McDonald’s we’re in a business that serves many clients every day and a lot can go wrong. The point is to be consistently good. What value is there in being amazing at lunchtime, only to be not-so-good in the evening?” Susan, who swears by excellence and customer service, doesn’t only laud McDonald’s innovative streak and customer-centricity, but credits the chain for its dedication to franchisees. She lists examples when the corporation stepped in to help one of her restaurants that was hitting soft notes (due to external factors). “We’ve been with different CEOs and each one of them has had our best interests at heart. They look out for us. We know we can count on the corporation even in the hardest times,” says this franchisee, after taking a look at how it all began. “When I heard that McDonald’s was coming to South Africa I knew instantly that that’s what I wanted. The only problem was how do I go about getting it. I applied to McDonald’s over a period of about nine months. I went to interviews and they said: ‘we’ll get back to you’,” this powerhouse recalls, adding that discovering Power of the Mind, Positive Thinking by John Kehoe, when she was in the throes of a difficult phase gave her the kick-start to believe in herself. “I loved the (hospitality) environment,” Susan says of the months she spent waitressing. “The fact that I hadn’t had my own business and nobody in my family had had a business meant that I had to get specialised training and guidance if I was to become a new franchisee. I’ll never forget the day when I received a phone call to say ‘you’re on the programme’.” Next up she was in Melbourne for six months’ training and was at that point offered the Rock ’n Roll restaurant. “The most amazing thing is that I met my husband in Australia: a doubly glorious thing!” At McDonald’s we’re in a business that serves many clients every day and a lot can go wrong. The point is to be consistently good. What value is there in being amazing at lunchtime, only to be not-so-good in the evening?