Each year at our annual Spring Business Conference, we step back from sessions of bar charts, profit margins, and PowerPoint slides to celebrate the Restaurant General Managers (RGMs) who make our company great. The Kendall Award, presented annually, celebrates the four RGMs who are true champions of our brand and consistently demonstrate operational and service excellence. These RGMs drive for outstanding results in all aspects of running a restaurant, from customer service, to food safety, to team member support, while also growing sales and profit. And, for the first time, this year we altered the rules of the Kendall Award to be able to recognize four winners! Meet the best of our brand, and be sure to check out the winners of the BOOK IT! and Folino awards.
Andy Dent, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Andy joined the Pizza Hut team of Fort Wayne in April, 2009, and has been delivering results ever since. Since becoming RGM, Andy has been managing his restaurant in Coventry, Indiana with skill and poise. The franchise tends to “experiment” with new recipes at the Coventry location, meaning that Andy is often managing a science lab in addition to a family restaurant. Terry Auld, Director of HR at Pizza Hut Fort Wayne, noted that “Andy handles all of this very professionally and as a learning experience…He has been a great mentor for his current and previous team members.”
Andy treats his team like a family, and makes an effort to spend personal time with each of his team members when they need him. Each year, during Pizza Hut’s fundraising campaigns, Andy offers his team members a coveted prize of a home-made breakfast for the winning team, served personally by Andy the morning before the restaurant opens.
Deb Crocker, Mattawan, Michigan
Deb has been with the Pizza Hut team for nearly 30 years, holding a multitude of positions from cook (starting in 1958) to shift leader to area manager. Before becoming the RGM at the Mattawan Pizza Hut WingStreet, a newer location for the franchise, she managed the Pizza Hut restaurant in Coloma, a million dollar location where she built an outstanding team of managers and crew members. Deb takes pride in being a part of a team and genuinely cares about their success in life. Though she sets high standards, Deb is there to make sure her team can reach those standards, and has an incredibly low turnover rate as a result.
Deb is a true customer champion, and makes sure that when guests come to her restaurants, they are treated to a warm welcome and made to feel at home. As her Area Manager Kristy Blakemore describes, “Deb leaves her customer service legacy everywhere she goes. It is the little touches that go a long way. Every action has the guest in mind.” She is constantly looking for ways to be a supportive leader and member of her community, and it is this dedication to people that leads us to award her with the Kendall Award.
Donna Wright, Norfolk, Nebraska
Donna goes bullish on three things: sales, food safety, and customer service, leading to fantastic results. The leader of the restaurant in Norfolk, Nebraska for 22 years, she’s been consistently highly rated for her customer satisfaction scores: last year, nearly 85% of guests were likely to recommend a friend to Pizza Hut after visiting her restaurant. Donna’s been a shining star for food safety and product quality, holding her team to high standards and making sure that everyone is trained to be accountable for food safety.
Donna also plays a central role in connecting Pizza Hut to their local community, participating in different festivals and events. Jim Molacek, Director of Operations for the GIPH Franchise, says “I live in the same town as this store and I never hear negative comments or remarks of the service of product quality that comes out of this store it is always positive. Donna has dedicated her time and passion to be the best in her community and market.”
Mario Martinez, Emory, Texas
Mario was an easy choice to make for the Kendall award. He lifts the morale of all guests and team members each and every day, while maintaining extremely consistent sales and profit growth. Mario is also a star in his community, finding innumerable ways to give back to Emory, Texas. He gives pizza discounts to the High School Convention Center, and in turn the students sell pizza to raise funds for the school. Mario helps local churches in their events with discounts and donations. He participates in the City Parade each year. They actually built a pedal car with Pizza Hut logo’s and ride it in the parade, while throwing candy, coupons, and business cards with discounts to the crowd.
Once a year, the students from the special education program at the local school come to the restaurant to learn about Pizza Hut and to observe the employees making pizzas. The kids made a book about their experience, and it’s displayed at the local library— to which Mario also donates pizzas their reading program every year. Mario and his team are great advocates for Pizza Hut’s BOOK It! program, and congratulate each kid on their reading accomplishments, asking what books they’ve read and making each and every student feel special. He sponsors a soccer team of 20 little kids each year and after each home game—win or lose—they are given a free Personal Pan pizza.
According to Area Coach Robert Phillips, Mario sets high standards and leads by example. He sets a fun family environment. All his employees will tell you they are like one big happy family, and love working at Pizza Hut!