Sowinski gets certified and Merrill Arby’s location becomes National Certified Training Restaurant
Merrill restaurant is the first single-store franchise to achieve this distinction
TINA L. SCOTT
When an Arby’s restaurant hires staff or opens a new location, new employees must go through significant training to become certified prior to going live in their designated location. For instance, when the Merrill Arby’s opened, the staff in various positions required extensive training and certification, owner Gary Schwartz said. “The General Manager had to work eight weeks in a National Certified Training Restaurant (NCTR) and be certified.”
The Assistant Manager and Shift Leaders had to do the same, and Back Kitchen Staff had to work for four weeks in a NCTR and be certified.
All of that training had to take place on location at a NCTR.
“The Merrill Arby’s opened Nov. 1, 2014,” Schwartz said. “It was part of a complete rebuild of the Pine Ridge Mobil complex. Arby’s actually sits on the original footprint of the Pine Ridge Standard that was first built on this site and opened Aug. 2, 1976.”
Merrill Arby’s sets goal to become NCTR
“General Manager Becky Sowinski decided that she wanted to become an Arby’s National Certified Training Restaurant/Manager,” Schwartz said. “This would be the highest distinction for performance that an individual General Manager and individual Restaurant can attain in the Arby’s world.”
“It is always good to have a goal, something to work towards,” he said.
“I began the training process back in 2017,” Becky Sowinski said. “I attended my first Certified Training Manager (CTM) class on Mar. 15, 2017. I have attended three of them. In order to become a NCTR, you must attend at least one class, go through the pre-certification checklist with a 90% or better, get a triple ace on your unannounced AOR (Arbys Operational Review), and then get a triple ace on the day of certification with also a 90% or better on the certification checklist.”
[“Arby’s has always scored very high on Eco Sure health inspections (99.5%), and Lincoln County Health Department inspections (100%),” Schwartz said. “In addition to those inspection processes, Arby’s has an unannounced inspection system called an AOR. An AOR is a four-to-five-hour inspection conducted by regional Arby’s corporate staff.]
“So the triple ace consists of three categories: Guest Experience, Arby’s Standards, and Food Safety,” Sowinski explained. “You must score 90% or higher on all three. The first triple ace was Guest Experience 92.8, Arby’s Standards 94.1, and Food Safety 93.2.”
“The day of certification was Guest Experience 91.64, Arby’s Standards 96.47, and Food Safety 96.07,” she said.
Sowinski and the Merrill Arby’s came through with flying colors, but it’s been a four-and-a-half-year process. Along the way to earning this certification, the location picked up a few other accolades.
“In addition to all of the awards leading up to the NCTR designation, our store was also awarded the Highest Sales Gain in 2020,” Schwartz said. “These awards are on display in the Arby’s Restaurant.”
Arby’s trainees can now train at the Merrill location
“Any Arby’s from anywhere can choose to have their new General Manager train at any National Certified Training Restaurant,” Sowinski said. “It was an eight-week training process; however, Arby’s revamped the course last year. Not all people train at the same pace.”
Now that Sowinski and the Merrill location are certified, the Merrill Arby’s location is an option for training any new hires in the Arby’s franchise system. Trainees can come from anywhere to get their required training and certification.
“When a new store or simply a new Manager starts work at an Arby’s restaurant, they have to be trained and certified by a NCTR,” Schwartz said.
“They will come in and train with the Manager who was certified,” Sowinski said [in this case her]. “The training Manager will have hands-on training, as well as videos to watch and a book to work in. There is a test at the end of training they will have to pass, and the Certified Training Manager will conduct a Manager observation checklist as they watch them run a shift. They must pass with a 90% or better.”
Going forward at the Merrill Arby’s, Sowinski will be the training Manager now that she has attained this designation.
Teamwork makes the dream work
“We learned, after achieving the NCTR designation, that we were the only single store franchisee to be so designated,” Schwartz said. “We as a team are very proud of this accomplishment.”
“I have worked very hard for a few years to get this accomplished,” Sowinski said. “However, I can’t do it alone. It takes a good dedicated staff to help you.”
Together, they achieved one goal/dream and now the Merrill Arby’s is on to new things to continue to improve on the positive Arby’s experience. They will soon announce a new project “that will allow guests/customers to order their food ahead online and simply pick it up at the counter and walk,” Schwartz said.