She did it again - a woman native to Lincoln County continues to make it her mission to make her Domino’s pizzeria in Lincolnton the best it could be and to make history. Lou Ann Dellinger has been recognized as the United States Domino’s Manager of the Year. There were almost 6,000 other Domino’s managers across the United States vying for this award. The U.S. Manager of the Year award recognizes exceptional store managers who live the company’s mission and guiding principles.
What makes this even more prestigious is that this is the third year in a row that Dellinger has received this award. Most managers across the Domino’s chain never receive this honor never mind getting it three years in a row. Dellinger was the first women to earn the award three times in a row and only the third manager to have ever earned it in back-to-back years.
While still in high school, Dellinger started at Domino’s in Lincolnton as a customer service representative.
“My best friend and I both applied and I didn’t get called back at first, so I called them,” she said. “I got an interview and was hired.”
Her best friend is long gone from Domino’s and the franchise is now in a new location. Dellinger went to college for accounting and when she graduated, got a part-time at Carolina Freight and continued working part-time at Domino’s.
“I thought I’d get on at Carolina Freight full-time but that didn’t work out,” she said. “My mom didn’t like it too well when I went full-time at Domino’s. She asked me, ‘what are you going to do make pizzas for the rest of your life?’ I told her I liked it and I have fun. She’d be proud of me now because of all the awards that I’ve won and I’m now a partner at this store. I just love my job.”
Dellinger said that she loves the connections with her customers. The restaurant has a lot of regulars. She also loves her crew and even how the rushes come.
“I couldn’t have done anything without the crew,” she said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work and know what we need to get to for our goals. Everyone gets along here like a family.”
To receive the United States Manager of the Year award, Dellinger averaged a 5 OER (operation evaluation report) average over the last year. This is a national grading scale on unannounced inspections managers receive and the highest score you can earn is a five star (which is very hard to do). Dellinger’s store has averaged a 4.5-star over the last 10 years.
Dellinger’s team delivers pizzas in about 20 minutes to the residents of Lincolnton and when customers order, her team can finish making an order and load it into the oven in about just over two minutes.
COVID likely helped the Lincolnton Domino’s in that people were ordering take-out because other restaurants were shut down.
“Corporate was issuing new guidelines just about every week to keep us and the customers safe so we could keep going,” Dellinger said. “We sanitized everything every hour, we took temperatures and if anyone wasn’t feeling well, they didn’t come in. We did the contactless deliveries.”
Like other restaurants in the area, Dellinger is struggling a bit with hiring employees.
“If it wasn’t for the crew that I did have – they all stepped up, all of them were working six days a week to make sure we kept it going,” she said. “If it wasn’t for my team, we wouldn’t have done anything. They were thankful that we didn’t shut down, so they still had their income coming in.”
At 50 years old, Dellinger feels the long hours a bit more than she used to, but she’s not thinking much about retirement.
“I love what I do,” she said. “Except for when it’s really late at night, I never get tired of making pizzas. I’ll work seven days before I’ll leave them short staffed. That’s what I’ve been doing recently, and they’ve been fussing. I think that’s one way that they see that I do care about them.”
The Lincolnton Domino’s is located at 101 Stanford Road near the ABC Store.