Our guests this month are a young family minded couple putting in the hard yards for local people, charity and the community. I sat down with Amanda and Craig Evans and started by finding out about life growing up in the Manning.
CE – I was born in Sydney, but relocated to a family farm at Kolodong when I was eight years old. Living on a farm meant plenty of work from a young age with my grandfather, but I also had the joy of spending plenty of time skiing the Manning River, as the farm had a kilometre or so of river frontage. I completed my schooling at St Clare’s and started working at McDonald’s at the age of 16, when it first opened.
AE – I had the pleasure of growing up in Tinonee. I have very fond memories of primary school and friends in that tiny community that it was. I completed high school at Taree High.
So, let’s dive deeper. How did you two meet?
CE – We actually met working at McDonald’s (corny, isn’t it!) We both had a permanent shift together on Wednesday nights, but didn’t start dating until we had both finished school. After finishing school, we did a Gap Year and worked at Taree McDonald’s, prior to going off to do further studies. It was during this year that we started dating, and the rest is history! Amanda left McDonald’s and went to Newcastle to complete a marketing degree, but I didn’t end up going to university and instead took up a management position at the McDonald’s at Settlement City in Port Macquarie.
Was owning your own franchise something you both wanted to do from early on?
AE – I truly didn’t even think too much about it. We work really well together due to a strong mutual respect, even though we both have different ideas (which makes for good conversation), strengths and opportunities. It gets us great results.
CE – Both coming from a McDonald’s background, it was inevitable I guess. While I’ve stayed in the business my whole career, Amanda has done a few other things, but once we had a plan to one day purchase our own franchise, it made perfect sense for us both to be involved with the day to day operations. When we purchased the Taree restaurant in 2006 from John and Helen Ross, Amanda was the Restaurant Manager at the time, and I was the General Manager of all the businesses that John and Helen ran. While both being in the business certainly can have its challenges (especially for the staff … ha ha) I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you switch between the professional couple and the family?
CE – I think we manage it quite well, and it simply comes down to just having very open and honest communication – most importantly, just remembering that whatever decision is made, Amanda is always right has certainly helped me. Our two oldest boys, Cooper and Levi have both worked in the business, so it’s definitely a family affair. Our youngest, Noah also has aspirations, and if you were to ask any of the staff, they probably already say that he thinks he runs the show.
AE – In the early days it can be a real learning curve managing a young family and the hours required by the McDonald’s system to keep the balance. Family time is very important and something that we focus on. Holidays play a huge part in switching off and just focusing on the family. Life is short, so we make the most of it!
You are big supporters of the community. Tell us why getting behind local sport and other groups is so important to you?
CE – We’re very fortunate to own a good size business in town employing over 300 individuals at any point in time; all our employees come from the local area, so supporting the community is also about supporting them and their families. This is only one reason though, and I could honestly give you a hundred reasons why it makes good business sense to support the community. There is a saying in life that you only get out of it what you put into it, and Amanda and I have this prerogative also when it comes to the community.
Innovation is so important, even for the hospitality industry. I believe you have been at the forefront of some of McDonald’s recent changes in this space?
Innovation is truly important in any business and is something that has enabled us, as McDonald’s, to continue to grow and grow in the last 10 years. We are on a massive journey at the moment with digital innovation, from our Mobile Order and Pay App to our Self Order Kiosks and our digital merchandising at Front Counter and Drive Thru. All these advancements are about providing choice to our customers and allowing them to order and interact with us in a way that they want to. It’s about putting the customer at the centre of everything you do.
Where is the favourite place for the family to spend time locally?
Friday nights is our family night out, and our favourite place to eat is Fish Fish Fish. Always a great meal and a friendly face to serve you. We are lucky enough to have a place that backs on to the Manning River, so for us spending time at home on weekends is always very enjoyable; we don’t have to go far to enjoy what the Manning Valley has to offer.
For you, what is the best part about being in business in the Manning-Great Lakes?
Being in business in the Valley is extremely rewarding; the business community across the region is very close, and the thing that always impresses me is how much admiration we all have for everyone’s achievements.
Lastly, we are very lucky to have such a great staff base and without the efforts of our managers and crew, we would not have a business.
Thanks Craig and Amanda.