While many dream of doing great feats for their communities and being of service to their loved ones, the ability to realistically position oneself financially and philanthropically to give back is of great significance. Dr. Mya Smith-Edmonds, owner and operator of nine McDonald’s franchises, is fortunate to be a blessing to others.
Meet Dr. Mya Smith-Edmonds
Beautiful, intelligent, classy, grounded, and passionate about her work and faith is how Dr. Mya Smith-Edmonds can be described. The oldest of eight children, Smith-Edmonds recalls striving to be a good role model to her siblings. By the age of 13, she worked in a McDonald’s owned and operated by her father. She knew from a very early age that she wanted to own a business, employ others, and consequently support families. It seemed only logical to her that she would start working towards becoming a successful McDonald’s owner/operator immediately after graduating from high school.
It was Smith-Edmonds’s father, whose work ethic, business savvy and style that inspired her dreams. He suggested that she first go to college and try her hand at a profession unrelated to McDonald’s. If she still felt interested in owning a McDonald’s after those endeavors, he would agree to support her 110%.
The Houston native graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and a minor in African-American studies. She was a CPA with Deloitte & Touche, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, before deciding to take a position as Program Director with KCOH Radio Station. It was her love for people that would lead her back to McDonald’s.
Before becoming a franchise owner, Smith-Edmonds completed a required 2-5 year training program in less than 12 months. While working as a general manager, she was awarded the Ray Kroc Award. This honor is earned by the top 1% performers of the McDonald’s leadership system.
How it Started
Initially, Smith-Edmonds’s dream was to acquire three restaurants. She now owns nine. Acquiring her restaurants did not come easy. Smith-Edmonds went through the process of getting her first store seven times due to representatives moving and paperwork being lost. Still, Smith-Edmonds herself also had to move seven times throughout this period. While it was discouraging, looking back, she says, When it seems like something is in the way- an obstacle to slowing you down, God is saying, “No, I’m getting you ready for everything you asked for.”
Those struggles hit her in a very emotional place. “It just makes me cry because I think about everything that I went through in that season–years of let down and unmet expectations. Doing everything asked of me, mastering my tasks, yet getting nothing and making no progress. All I could think was, ‘Is it going to happen for me or not?’ But I realize now that it was a big feat to become a McDonald’s owner/operator, and all of the struggles, all of the transitions and all of the changes that I went through were to encourage others not to EVER give up.”
Smith-Edmonds learned at quite an early age the role her faith would play in her journey. She attended a private Christian school. As summoned in her youth, it was her faith that kept her grounded during those challenging times when she purchased her first franchise. “The only reason it’s hard is that the devil can see everything that God has for you, and he’s trying to stop you. He’s trying to distract you. You must stay focused on listening to the voice of God and not the lies of the enemy,” she shares.
How it Started
Operating her first restaurant was no breeze. While Smith-Edmonds and her team had great operations and a clean restaurant, the location was not ideal. “It was so bad. One day I had a field consultant from the corporation come to check on me and evaluate the restaurant. I literally had a customer walking from one side of the entry door to the other side of the restaurant, urinating across the floor. The rep was like, ‘Oh my God, is this happening?!’ I told the rep it happens all the time,” Smith-Edmonds recalls. “I even had people come in that always put feces on the mirrors and in the toilet paper dispensers and got high in the restrooms. Sometimes they overdosed and I had to call the ambulance and police. As if that wasn’t enough, there was an adult entertainment venue located across the street. Truck drivers and patrons were always coming in, but I couldn’t make any money because the surrounding environment wasn’t kid-friendly nor family-friendly.… to say the least.”
However, the owner/operator in Smith-Edmonds pushed through, and by the time she had her third restaurant, corporate was calling to offer her a fourth because they knew she could handle it. She was the first, African-American Next Generation to own a McDonald’s restaurant in Central Indiana.
The Difference Between an Owner and an Operator
Smith-Edmonds prides herself on not just being a McDonald’s owner, but an operator. She credits her dad–who she considers to be a Legend in the business–for the clear distinction between the two terms. She explains that when one says they are an owner, he or she is usually not as deeply involved in the operations of the day-to-day business as an operator is. “When you are an operator versus an owner, you are operating your business. You’re being a business person,” Smith-Edmonds explains passionately. “If you’re a business person, and you don’t know your numbers, then you don’t know your business. You could be OPEN for business, yet be OUT of business. Operating my business is what helps me succeed. Because at the end of the day, when I’m looking at my numbers, I’m trying to focus on making sure I’m profitable. What does my return on investment look like?”
Being profitable does not simply benefit Smith-Edmonds, but the whole ecosystem of the franchises’ 800 employees. Because she understands that her success fuels the households of all these people and believes that she is to be of service, she takes knowing the intricacies of her duties very seriously. Her days consist of planning and projecting, accurately forecasting sales and controllable expenses. “I know that if I’m ever in a position where I may not be profitable, that puts the entire organization at risk,” says Smith-Edmonds. “I’m responsible for every single employee that I employ. I want to make sure that I am running a business where not only my employees can stay employed, but a business where I’m putting them in a position to continue to get raises, bonuses, and promotions. I don’t want them to just be a crew person forever, but [I want to see them] promoted to the level of assistant manager. Then be a manager. Then become a general manager. Next, a supervisor. With all of those different levels, they get a pay increase. So I must run my business properly so that they are being developed and are ready to be promoted under my leadership.”
Read the rest of Dr. Mya’s interview in our Favored & Fit issue.