You may have eaten a burger thanks to Paul Crocker – because he owns the most McDonald’s franchises in the UK.
He employs more than 1,700 people and runs almost every Maccy Ds in Kent, after taking over his latest two branches in 2014 bringing the total to 16.
What are you doing with your life, then?
Listen and learn from fast food tycoon Paul, 58, who went from earning just £25 a week to his current heights.
His story began age 14 when he started working for free at his parents’ riding school.
It set him up to get his first paid job when he finished his A Levels, teaching kids, looking after horses and show-jumping for £25 a week.
Looking after horses was fun, but £25 didn’t get you much so he started running petrol stations across Kent with his father, which they did for 13 years.
Paul, who now switches between driving a Land Rover and a Porsche, said: ‘When my dad retired and I sold up, I decided to become a McDonald’s franchisee in Margate in 1995.
‘I felt that the times were a changing, I saw that the kind of petrol stations we were running were not necessarily going to be able to continue during the massive rise of supermarket petrol stations.
‘Initially, it was, like any new business, a backwards step for me.
‘I had to restart completely, in terms of a management team. I had to work a lot more hours, there was a lot more work and a lot more risk.
‘What I liked in the petrol business was that you were trading behind a fairly reputable petrol brand.
‘People trust the brand names, so in a way, by going into a franchise what I was looking for was a brand name that people could relate to and that
could give autonomy to make my own choices and employ my own people.’
McDonald’s ticked all of those boxes – although it, of course, wasn’t the only option open to Paul as he ventured into the world of business solo for
the first time.
Paul said: ‘I didn’t have my family to support me as I have done in the past.
‘But I did have McDonald’s, you work as a partner with them.’
His first restaurant in Margate, the father-of-four remembers, came accompanied by some seasonal stress – with winter being particularly quiet.
But Paul quickly developed a taste for Big Macs and went on to purchase over fifteen more restaurants in the county in just under 20 years.
‘In every single one of the restaurants I took on the sales stepped up significantly,’ he said.
He says despite many changes through the years, the classics still remain at the top of his restaurants’ ‘most sold’ leader boards: The Big Mac, double cheeseburger and the 20 box of McChicken nuggets.
Paul, who lives with his wife, Kim, in Whitstable, Kent said a typical week in his life includes regular unannounced visits to some of his restaurants.
Once there, he will muck in with the staff.
Paul said: ‘I generally try to go on the busier shifts, such as Friday or Saturday night.
‘It’s fun, a bit of banter, just leading from the front, working shoulder to shoulder with them, sometimes even racing them to see who can do things
Watch out world.