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Behind the Arches

Our writer takes a sneak peek into the training grounds of McDonald's franchisees: Hamburger University.

This story appears in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Miomir Ivanovic, 43, likes sizing up the odds-not because he is a gambler, but because he isn't. When it became apparent that his native country, Bosnia, was collapsing into civil war, he decided to stay in America, where he was going to school. If he returned to Bosnia, he felt that odds were, his life would be in danger. When he chose a career, he picked a stable one-civil engineering. And when he decided that he wanted to own a business, he decided on a franchise with a track record of success. In 2004, he set his sights on McDonald's. Odds are, Ivanovic is going to do OK.

Of course, McDonald's likes reducing its odds of failure, too. The most successful quick-service restaurant chain in the world doesn't let just anybody buy a McDonald's restaurant and open for business. Their secret weapon to success isn't the Big Mac's secret sauce. It lies in the training that the company provides to every single franchise owner. McDonald's is McDonald's because of Hamburger University.

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