Sowinski Achieves Certification and Merrill Arby Location Becomes National Certified Training Restaurant
Merrill Restaurant is the first single-store franchise to achieve this honor
TINA L. SCOTT
When an Arby’s restaurant hires staff or opens a new location, new employees must undergo extensive training to be certified before moving to their designated location. For example, when Merrill Arby’s first opened, staff in various positions needed extensive training and certification, owner Gary Schwartz said. âThe general manager had to work eight weeks at a National Certified Training Restaurant (NCTR) and be certified. “
The assistant manager and team leaders had to do the same, and the back kitchen staff had to work for four weeks in an NCTR and be certified.
All of this training was to take place on-site in an NCTR.
âMerrill Arby’s opened on November 1, 2014,â said Schwartz. âIt 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 which was first built on this site and opened on August 2, 1976.
Merrill Arby’s aims to become NCTR
âGeneral Manager Becky Sowinski decided she wanted to become an Arby’s National Certified Restaurant / Training Manager,â said Schwartz. “It would be the highest honor for the performance that a general manager and an individual restaurant can achieve in Arby’s world.”
âIt’s always good to have a goal, something to work towards,â he said.
âI started the training process in 2017,â said Becky Sowinski. âI attended my first Certified Training Manager (CTM) course on March 15, 2017. I took three. To become an 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), then get a triple as on the day of certification with also 90% or more on the certification checklist. “
[âArbyâs has always scored very high on Eco Sure health inspections (99.5%), and Lincoln County Health Department inspections (100%),â Schwartz said. âIn addition to those inspection processes, Arbyâs has an unannounced inspection system called an AOR. An AOR is a four-to-five-hour inspection conducted by regional Arbyâs corporate staff.]
âSo the triple ace consists of three categories: customer experience, Arby’s standards and food safety,â Sowinski explained. âYou have to score 90% or better on all three. The first triple aces were customer experience 92.8, Arby’s standards 94.1 and food safety 93.2.
âThe day of certification was Customer Experience 91.64, Arby’s Standards 96.47, and Food Safety 96.07,â she said.
Sowinski and the Merrill Arbys did it with flying colors, but it lasted four and a half years. Along the way to achieving this certification, the location has received a few other accolades.
âIn addition to all of the awards leading up to the NCTR designation, our store also received the highest sales gain in 2020,â said Schwartz. “These awards are on display in Arby’s Restaurant.”
Arby trainees can now train at the Merrill site
âAny Arby’s from anywhere can choose to train their new general manager at any nationally certified training restaurant,â Sowinski said. âIt was an eight week training process; however, Arby’s reorganized the course last year. Not everyone trains at the same pace.
Now that Sowinski and the Merrill location are certified, the Merrill Arby’s location is an option for training new hires in the Arby’s franchise system. Trainees can come from anywhere to obtain the required training and certification.
âWhen a new store or just a new manager starts working at an Arby’s restaurant, they must be trained and certified by an NCTR,â Schwartz said.
“They will come to train with the manager who has been certified,” Sowinski said [in this case her]. âThe training manager will have hands-on training, plus videos to watch and a book to work on. He will need to take a test at the end of the training and the certified training manager will complete a manager observation checklist. as they watch them do a shift. They must be successful with a 90% or better.
Going forward at Merrill Arby’s, Sowinski will be the Head of Training now that she has achieved this designation.
Teamwork is the source of dream work
âWe learned, after obtaining the NCTR designation, that we were the only franchisee of a single store to be so designated,â said Schwartz. âAs a team, we are very proud of this accomplishment. “
âI worked really hard for a few years to achieve this,â said Sowinski. âHowever, I can’t do it alone. It takes good, dedicated staff to help you.
Together they achieved a goal / dream and now Merrill Arby’s are on new things to continue to improve the positive Arby’s experience. They will soon be announcing a new project “that will allow guests / customers to order their food in advance online and just pick it up at the counter and walk around,” said Schwartz.