Ashleigh Nairn is one remarkable young woman. She talks to journalist Kelly Makiha about how she saved for a house at 19 and became the youngest BurgerFuel franchise owner in the country at 21.
At 15, she was working part-time while at school at BurgerFuel earning $14.25 an hour.
At 19, she'd saved $20,000 to buy a house.
Today at 21, she's become the youngest BurgerFuel franchise owner in New Zealand.
Ashleigh Nairn set a goal to own her own business three years ago.
On Tuesday, she officially took over as boss of 14 staff members at the Fairy Springs store.
Not only has she become the youngest person in the country to achieve such a goal, she's also only the second woman to own a BurgerFuel franchise and the third Māori.
Over the years, she's clocked up all the qualifications needed, including spending two months in the United States helping to train new BurgerFuel staff in customer service.
BurgerFuel NZ country manager Jason Lowery says Ashleigh went through the intensive selection process and was successful.
"Ashleigh has a sound knowledge of the business and proven leadership, with the backing of her predecessors, Francie Porter and Ryan Petch. We encourage young people to apply, particularly store staff, if the opportunity arises and they are in a position to. We have a youthful brand and young, successful franchisees are motivated and make for fantastic role models for store staff."
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Ashleigh worked her way up from part-time worker to shift manager and then store manager. As the promotions came, her pay went up and she was able to save.
While most teenagers spent their money on good times and material items, Ashleigh saved for a house - something she achieved at the age of 19.
"When I started working I wanted label clothing and nice things but earning $14.25 an hour and spending $180 on a RPM hoodie made me realise how many hours it took to get just one hoodie, so in the end I didn't spend it."
Ashleigh says she was still able to have a good time but she was strict with her hard-earned money.
While her parents, Chris and Stella Nairn, have helped fund buying the franchise, it's Ashleigh who will be the boss and has earned the qualifications to take over the business.
Chris Nairn, a detective with Rotorua police, says he and his wife, who works in the office at Rotorua Boys' High School, were happy to help their daughter.
"We've taken out a loan to help her out but we know the type of person she is. She is hard working and honest and family means a lot to Ashleigh. As parents we are really lucky she has been able to provide us with an opportunity too but if she didn't have the knowledge and the business skills, Stella and I wouldn't risk starting off on a new business venture like this."
Officially Chris and Stella will be joining the staff under Ashleigh doing book work and administration duties alongside their other jobs, but Chris is adamant he won't be making burgers.
"It's actually a lot more complicated than people think. It's not like a Saturday afternoon barbecue."
Meanwhile, Chris says teaching your children the value of money was one of the best things you could do for them.
"But it's also about appreciating what you have. There are a lot of people in this city who are less fortunate than us and it's also about being humble at the same time."
Meanwhile, Ashleigh has wise advice for other young people who want to make the most out of their lives.
"Set a goal and go for it. My goal was to become a franchisee and here I am."
Q 'n A with Ashleigh Nairn
When did you start working at BurgerFuel and why?
April 2, 2014 and at 15 years old. My parents had been regular customers of Ryan Petch and Francie Porter since BurgerFuel first came to Rotorua. The vibe was fun, fast and loud and just ultimately a really awesome brand that I wanted to work for. It was a huge struggle being 15 years old and actually finding someone that would hire me. Thankfully Ryan and Francie saw something in me and gave me the chance that I needed.
How did you move through the ranks?
I started my first shift as a part-time crew member after school. At 16 I was promoted to a part time day shift manager and ran the weekend shifts and holidays while still at school. Once I finished school at 18, I went full-time and progressed to store manager and have been in that role for the last three years. I was also selected as part of the USA training team for the first BurgerFuel store in the US and flew to Indianapolis to train the crew in customer service for two months. Which brings me to where I am today, with the backing and support from my family, Francie and Ryan. It's been a long, hard battle but has been worth every minute of it!
When did you realise you wanted to buy a franchise?
I always knew I wanted to own something, I'm bossy and I love being in charge. BurgerFuel is in my blood and I have an undying passion for the brand. Once I finished school, I expressed an interest to Francie that I wanted to own my own BurgerFuel franchise, three years on and here we are.
Why did you want to do that?
I have the industry experience; knowledge is power and I am a powerhouse when it comes to BurgerFuel. I love the brand and have always loved my job. I love a challenge and this was the next step up from my current position as store manager.
How do you think you will cope being "the boss" at a young age?
We have an amazing team here at BurgerFuel Fairy Springs and with their support I know this will be a huge success. It will be hard and a never-ending challenge but I'm ready to take whatever gets thrown at me. I've always been super hardworking and treated this business as my own since day one and the staff really respect that.
What are your goals as a franchise owner?
Lots and lots of community involvement! Catering is a huge thing we want to kickstart in Rotorua. We also want to get behind our local businesses, tradies, gyms, hotels, motels, schools and events.