As a part of one of my assignments in my Masters course, I wrote a report on Dominos and was left quite intrigued by its story.
Gone are the days when we had one favorite go-to place that made the best pasta in a 20-mile radius and enjoyed a huge footfall. Times have changed and so has the landscape. As a customer, today we have a plethora of options to choose from in every cuisine, at every bend of the road. And when we are too lazy to drive, our dinner is a few taps away on the mobile phone application. Today, we have the power to make an easy switch from one eatery to another if we feel even slightly compromised in our experience.
Among the Top 10 reasons ‘Why Restaurants Fail’, the market points finger at poor allocation of resources, poor staff management, bad marketing, complex menu, and poor customer experience to name a few. Another serious challenge for quick service restaurants today is retention of Customer Loyalty because competition, convenience and customer service have turned into the major deciding factors. Short waiting time, quality of food, and pocket-friendly pricing — the real fight is here. Domino’s has always been quick to sense the pulse, adapt to changing dynamics and cater to customer sentiments.
DOMINO’S MAKING A MARK
Domino’s was born in 1960 as a pizza restaurant in Michigan and gradually expanded its offerings to pasta, sandwiches, desserts, and other fast-food items. Within a few years it spread across geographies like wildfire. Back in the day, it was one of the very few restaurant chains with a robust door-to-door delivery channel. Besides some competition from local pizzerias, Domino’s enjoyed a dominant position in the market and was the go-to choice for many pizza lovers. But a few years down the line Domino’s encountered real competition from the big pizza chains such as Pizza Hut and Papa John’s. However, Domino’s always stayed on its toes and was well prepared to adapt to changes. Even though the ownership of Domino’s changed to Bain Capital in 1998, the Domino’s experience remained very customer-oriented and continued to be driven by constant adoption of new technology, operation optimization, speedy delivery, customer feedback, motivated employees and transparent management system that helped it stay ahead of its time. Domino’s nurtured a customer-centric vision from the very start and focused on choices that always circled back to improved customer experience and optimized way of working.
Domino’s never took its eye off customer experience and realized that operational excellence had to fuel the system driving quality to its customers. It tied technology-driven implementations with its operations seamlessly, creating a virtuous cycle complimenting one another. Let us reflect on some of the sound and calculated choices Domino’s made in its journey so far that shaped its success.
In the early 1990s, Domino’s focused on modernized operations and a centralized computer system. What it meant is that customers had to dial one phone number to place an order, irrespective of where they were located. Those days, access to Internet was a luxury and googling up the telephone number of the nearest Domino’s store was not an option. One phone number was much more convenient and hassle-free for customers who wanted to order. The centralized computer system made it easy to assign orders to relevant branches and track performance. The centralized computer system also made it quick and easy to navigate customer complaints that were then promptly attended to by the responsible store managers. Domino’s knew how to take care of customers.
Strategic Store Design was the secret ingredient of on-time mouthwatering pizzas. To begin with, the store design was the same across the globe at all Domino’s shops. Meticulous layout had the ingredients stored next to the preparation station, and the conveyor belt had no holding area to keep employees on their toes. Everything was coordinated and timed to the second. Moreover, the strategic use and placement of the Leaderboard was a brilliant idea. It displayed performance metrics that helped employees track their own work. It also helped instill a healthy competitive spirit amongst employees that drove them to outperform other stores.
Domino’s knew visibility and on-the-go tracking would pacify customer impatience. The knowledge of where the food is and how long it will take was delivered to customers first in 2007 with the launch of the Pizza Tracker. Domino’s not only decided to show the progress every step of the way, it also provided the name of the person who assembled and delivered the pizza. In these trying and challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Domino’s shows the health and body temperature details of the person delivering the pizza to keep customers reassured and free of worry. Domino’s also utilizes analytics to prompt its delivery personnel to follow the shortest and fastest routes to the destination.
While Domino’s always works with clockwork precision, it knows numbers cannot measure it all. It focuses on providing employees with quality employment that instills an environment of team spirit and encourages exchange of knowledge regarding best practices facilitated by access to technology. This has resulted in an invested workforce that strives for perfection too.
CUSTOMER AT THE EPICENTRE
It is very evident that decisions at Domino’s are made keeping its customer’s needs at the forefront. Connecting the dots between customer experience and speedy delivery, it came up with the famous ’30 minutes or free’ guarantee. It is able to deliver and live up to it because of liberal investments in its delivery fleet and vehicles that ensures on-time door-to-door delivery. Today, we see marketplace platforms such as Swiggy, Zomato, Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash featuring Domino’s pizzas in their list of restaurants to order from. And while customers can place an order for a Domino’s pizza via the platform, Domino’s chooses to use its own delivery fleet to knock on doors for it does not want to compromise on its brand promise of timely delivery.
It does not end there. Domino’s ability to adapt to different taste palettes that come with scaled geographies is commendable too. It knows that an ‘Achari Do Pyaaza’ or ‘Indi Tandoori Paneer’ pizza will be a top choice in the Indian market, a ‘Philly Cheese Steak’ amongst Americans and vegan pizzas amongst Israelis.
And in 2009, many customers complained about the cardboard-like crust and tasteless sauces. Domino’s took criticism in its stride and strived to deliver better. It revamped its pizzas starting with the base all the way up to the cheese and sauces. An employee even said, “It is not about us being right, its about us having great food”.
THE DOMINO’S DIFFERENCE
Domino’s has left no stone unturned. It has managed to orchestrate every part of the show with perfection. Decisions align with one another, and reinforce the brand focus of customer centricity, speedy delivery, and operational excellence. Not only does Domino’s fit the pieces of the puzzle to perfection, it does so way ahead of its competition. And that has made all the difference. Today we know our Domino’s pizza will arrive on time, even if our Uber does not.
Ward, Alvin (2016), “11 Things You Might Not Know About .”, viewed 02 August, 2020 < https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72655/11-things-you-might-not-know-about-Domino’s>