Noodles Success Stories: Team Member to Area Manager
Hard work? Determination? Luck? Grit? What is it that makes Nikki so successful?
We hop out of our DeLorean, flux capacitor still whizzing in the background. Lightning strikes a clock tower in West Bend, Wisconsin. It’s 2003: Finding Nemo is a smash hit at the box office, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl. Nikki joins the Noodles & Company family as a Team Member. She is now a multi-unit leader (Area Manager) in one of Noodles’ most successful markets, and we jump back to 2017 to figure out her secret to success.
So you began your journey in 2003 as a Team Member. Did you have any long term aspirations for your career at Noodles at the time?
Nikki: “I remember the day actually, it was October 21st, 2003. And none at all. I was working in retail and the place was robbed while I was there, and I knew I needed to find a better place to work. My dad saw a ‘Coming Soon’ sign on a future Noodles location and encouraged me to apply, and the rest is history.”
I’m assuming a lot has changed between 2003 and today when it comes to being a team member in the restaurant. Have we made any major improvements since then?
“Absolutely. We are much better at time management. The amount of time that goes into specific tasks has gone down a lot since then. More importantly, though, we have really improved our operation and centered it around our people. We actually sit our team members down and build plans, execute, and follow up. It all starts with selecting the right people: it’s what enables us to be successful.”
As an Area Manager, I’m sure you do a lot of selecting people yourself. What types of people are the most successful? Is there a recipe for success?
“Definitely people who are passionate about what they do. There is a lot that goes into working at Noodles: tons of fun things like cooking and interacting with our guests, but also some not-so-fun things: cleaning bathrooms, dishes, etc. As a manager, you notice the people who take pride in what they’re doing, even if it’s not a glorious task.”
Being where you are, looks like others noticed your passion too. Is there anyone who really helped you along the way?
“Kevin (Market Director) and Rob (Area Manager) were both really instrumental to my development. They spent a lot of 1:1 time with me and trusted me with extra responsibilities. When I was promoted to Assistant General Manager, I had a hard time getting buy-in from my team, since I was friends with almost everyone. The key proved to be communication, and my manager truly helped me hone how I communicate with my team in a positive way.”
What’s your favorite memory about working at Noodles?
“At Noodles we genuinely care about our people. At one point my son was having some medical problems, and so many people in the company showed how much they cared. I had a trip to Colorado and it seems like every leader in the company asked how he was doing. I received countless cards, phone calls, and the company let me take off all the time I needed to take care of my family. All of that showed me that at Noodles, we live up to what we say.”
Any parting words for our next success story, just beginning their journey as a team member?
“Just know that everything takes time. Utilize the tools at your disposal, and be receptive to change.”