"It's tough but rewarding to run your own business and see it develop."
Entrepreneur Pritpal Singh took his supposedly ‘dead-end’ job as a fast-food worker and managed to turn it into a very successful business venture with McDonald’s.
Singh graduated from Nottingham University in chemical engineering and fuel technology, but found that jobs in that sector were scarce. He decided to get a job at McDonald’s to make ends meet whilst looking for a job in the sector he qualified in.
33 years later, he owns 23 McDonald’s franchises in the UK, becoming a unique burger entrepreneur with an engineering degree.
His venture started in 1983, and only 18 months after flipping burgers, Singh managed to work his way up the fast-food sector and began to manage a new store opening in Yorkshire.
Speaking to the Telegraph and Argus, Singh said: “I was offered a trainee management position and accepted as I believed it was a not just a burger firm but a company that managed people well and offered good opportunities in a growing business.
“At that time McDonald’s had fewer than 100 UK restaurants and this has expanded to more than 1,200. Over the years there have been many changes and developments; for instance back then we didn’t do breakfasts.”
11 years later in 1994, Singh decided to use his McDonald’s experience to the best of his ability, by taking on his first franchise in Halifax.
He now employs nearly 1,800 people to help with his franchises and states how 95% of his restaurant managers started on the shop floor just like he had done.
“Some people may feel that as a graduate you are wasting your time working for a fast food business but I refute that, it has enabled me to build a successful business operation over 33 years,” says Pritpal Singh.
He states how his engineering degree would not have enabled him to become the successful entrepreneur he is now.
“Franchising was alien and just emerging back in the 1980s.
“It’s tough but rewarding to run your own business and see it develop.”
The Walsall-bred businessman has expanded with his franchises and seen many of McDonald’s new ventures, such as digital ordering, become popular. Offering advice for future entrepreneurs, Pritpal Singh says:
“If you want the business to succeed you have to be hands on. You have to know how the system works. I can’t tell staff how to do things unless I know how to do it myself and how things are done.”
“The support structure I have in place helps me but that doesn’t mean I take a back seat. You shouldn’t expect people to do things that you can’t do yourself and working in the restaurants occasionally keeps me grounded,” said Singh.
He expands on why he enjoys owning so many franchises:
“I’m delighted with the outcome and still get a thrill to see the transformation of a restaurant. It’s like getting a new toy.”
That is not the only rewarding thing for Singh, however, as he admires the US fast-food company’s workplace development:
“When you take a 16-17-year-old who has never worked in a team before and never been customer facing and see them develop and become confident and come out of their shell it gives you a big sense of satisfaction.”
Pritpal Singh is now undergoing the refurbishment of one of his restaurants, and when asked if he could add one more to his huge list of 23, he said: “I’m comfortable with the business I have for now but never say never.”