When Sonia Hernandez arrived in New York from her native country, Guatemala, she never imagined that thirteen years later she’d win the highest award given to McDonald’s brand restaurant managers: The Ray Kroc Award. Her unwavering smile and proactive attitude led Sonia to grow personally and professionally, as well as to rise from crew member to general manager at her independently owned and operated restaurant.
“Carlos and Lupe Wong, the owners of this restaurant have been my mentors since I got here,” says Sonia, “they’ve always encouraged me to give my best and they’ve supported my ideas about how to provide great customer service and motivate other employees. They encouraged me to enroll in Hamburger University so I could access better job opportunities at my McDonald’s restaurant,” Hernandez said.
The McDonald’s brand restaurant where Sonia works is an integral part of its Millerton community, which is why Sonia created “The Customer of the Month”, a loyalty program that recognizes frequent customers by putting up their photos along with notes written about their lives and their ties to the restaurant. Sonia greets many guests by name and remembers their usual orders, but her favorite customers are six elderly gentlemen who arrive for their daily coffee at six o’clock.
“During these thirteen years, I’ve met very wonderful people from whom I’ve learned a lot. My job at my McDonald’s restaurant has given me the opportunity to build a career,” is the answer that Sonia gives when asked why she loves working at her McDonald’s franchisee organization. She also mentioned her great coworker relationships and the times that the Wongs have taken team members out to eat or to baseball games as a way of celebrating good sales.