Team Member Spotlight: Karen

Karen is a Restaurant General Manager (RGM) at Summerwood’s Bel Air, MD Taco Bell with 35 years of experience in the business. Karen was working for another restaurant chain when she heard through the grapevine that a great company just assumed ownership of the local Taco Bell, prompting her to transition back into the Taco Bell fold with Summerwood, where she has now been for four and a half years.

“I recognized right away how [great] Summerwood culture was,” she says.

Recalling store visits from Summerwood’s executive team, Karen shares, “They came in, they met your crew, they talked to everybody.” Elaborating further, she says, “…they treated you like a regular person.”

Recognition is another Summerwood staple that stood out to Karen. Not only for RGMs, but the teams as well. “I’ve never worked for a company that looks out from the team member up,” she shares.

As a successful manager, Karen understands that being a leader means leading her team with integrity.

“By leading by example, they respect me. They know that I’m there for them; I work alongside them, I work hard with them,” she shares.

Karen’s hard work and dedication took her all the way to the top, winning her the coveted Golden Bell Award given to RGMs from the top 100 performing stores. An experience she describes as, “amazing.” 

Following that impressive career milestone, Karen tied for No. 1 RGM of the Year in 2020, an exceptional accomplishment given the backdrop of the pandemic.

Karen acknowledges that she did not make it to the top on her own. “I have to have a team around me to be really good at what I do,” she says.

Bringing years of expertise in recruiting, coaching and development, Karen loves to promote from within, recognizing, “It helps the team and it keeps you from losing people.”

Another key to retention? Benefits, of which Karen asserts, Summerwood has many. Citing incentive bonuses, gift cards at Thanksgiving, holiday bonuses and scholarships, Karen has witnessed the impact these gestures have on the lives of Summerwood employees. “I’ve never had a company that would give you money if you’re having a hardship,” she shares, saying, “I just love Summerwood.”

Continuing to express her appreciation for Summerwood’s culture, Karen says, “I love the small, caring touches they haveā€¦ that means everything.” It’s no coincidence that “Karen” and “caring” sound so much alike!