By Emilie St. John
National Black Business Month in August is recognizing the 50th anniversary of one of the largest organizations of successful Black entrepreneurs in the country, the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association.
The association was established in the midwest in 1972, and was formed to unite Black McDonald’s franchise owners as they navigated the extensive franchising system, while also creating a network to share ideas and support one another.
Franchise owner Corwin Johnson is the owner of several McDonald’s restaurants throughout Southern California and also sits on the board for Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides housing and support to children and their families receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses.
“While in high school, I worked for McDonald’s for several years, starting as a crew member and leaving as a swing manager,” Johnson said. “The things I learned during this time shaped my life.
“Not only did I learn every position, I learned the overall business, about myself, developed some managerial expertise and most importantly, some valuable interpersonal skills,” he added. “Several of the managers I worked for set a great learning environment, something I try to emulate daily and also did throughout my college and professional career.
“Prior to becoming a [franchise owner], I worked as a certified public accountant and had the opportunity to see many businesses in many industries,” Johnson continued. “I compared the processes, internal controls and overall operations to my jobs dating back to my McDonald’s days. At the end of the day, I truly loved learning, people, processes and business.
“Becoming a [franchise owner], allowed me to earn a living doing something I love, while paying it forward, creating a fun environment and learning culture. I wanted to do something that can bring happiness to all — kids, adults, team members — and I am truly lovin’ it.”
Johnson spoke about the honor of his franchise receiving recognition for a job well done.
“My proudest moment thus far was seeing my two general managers win the prestigious Outstanding Manager Award for 2021 for their respective location,” Johnson said. “To be a new operator, with two new general managers (neither were prior to me purchasing these restaurants), newly implemented systems and processes and building trust with each other, our team collectively propelled these locations into the top 10% of McDonald’s restaurants within the field office. This was a monumental accomplishment in a very short period of time. It was truly a team accomplishment.”
Johnson also encourages people to consider a career as a franchise owner because it provides many benefits and skills that you learn “on the job” and don’t necessarily need formal training to get started.
“I think there are several skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur and/or franchise owner,” he said. “I think pristine people skills, superb communication skills, a strong work ethic, a keen ability to want to learn and a tad of optimism” are essential.
“Every day is a new day, and our company motto is to be better than the day before. In fact, this phrase is posted in our crew rooms. If we are constantly improving, we feel better and our customers see it and appreciate it. People are the cornerstone of every business, so it is important to treat people (customers, crew, vendors, franchisor, etc.) like you want to be treated.”
As with any reward in your career, some may face either challenges or obstacles but according to Johnson they help build your character and make you a stronger entrepreneur.
“Honestly, operating during the pandemic was challenging,” he said. “In fact, I had to permanently close a location. However, partnering with a great brand … and meeting other great [franchise owners] in the system helped me weather the storm.
“Within a strong system, such as McDonald’s, I found out firsthand you are never alone. The guidance and collaboration helped a smaller operator like myself navigate through the pandemic doing our best to keep customers and crew safe and educated on the changing guidelines. As a franchise owner, I was not alone but had resources available to stay apprised of the latest developments.”
People interested in becoming a potential McDonald’s franchise owner can get more information at https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/us-franchising.html.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.