Interview With Domino’s Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle

On October 11, 2012, I was given the opportunity to visit the Domino’s Pizza headquarters to learn more about the company as part of the company’s third annual Blogger Day.  The Blogger Day event at Domino’s promotes the goal of transparency at the company.

The day included a welcome networking event, a tour of the supply chain center, a tutorial on how to make a Domino’s pizza, lunch with Domino’s executives, a tour of Domino’s store technology, and a run-down of the Domino’s website and mobile application development.

Domino’s Pizza Michigan Supply Chain Center Tour

Domino's Pizza LogoAt around 9AM Eastern Standard Time, we all hopped in a van and headed to the Domino’s Pizza supply chain center in Romulus, Michigan near the Detroit International Airport.  Domino’s started their distribution division in 1972 and was successful at “making distribution a one-stop shop,” stated Larry Manning, a leader in Supply Chain Special Projects at Domino’s Pizza.  Domino’s Pizza has 22 supply chain centers to serve nearly 5,000 stores in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada.

From the supply chain centers, Domino’s Pizza trucks drive 19 million miles per year.  There are around 1,500 team members in the company’s supply chain division.  Currently the company’s biggest expense is fuel, but they are working with Ryder to on auto-shift technology for new trucks.  After the new technology is implemented the company will be raising the mileage of their trucks by around 1 MPG.  The technology also has auto-accident technology protection.

Domino’s Pizza is also becoming more efficient through the roll-out of technology that is known as Domino’s Pulse.  The Domino’s Pulse system calculates orders for a specific day and then uses UPS Roadnet technology to calculate the most efficient routing by looking at the weight and number of cubic feet available in a truck.  The Domino’s Pulse system also implements product traceability from the farms to the distribution centers to the stores.

Domino’s Pizza makes dough 363 days per year and the supply chain center in Romulus, Michigan does 270 stores alone within the state all the way up to Erie, Pennsylvania.  The Michigan supply chain center opened their doors in 1972.  The supply chain center was revamped in 2004 with a more seamless supply chain operation and new technologies.

The trucks that Domino’s Pizza uses are 48′ in size and is refrigerated at 33-38 degrees so that the ingredients stay fresh.  The trucks are constantly washed and sanitized.  Domino’s works with a company called PAR to monitor the truck’s temperature, which gets reported to the Internet.  All the trucks have cameras to help the drivers back up.

Election seasons and the Super Bowl are huge for Domino’s because pizza orders spike.

One of the other bloggers asked about how the gluten-free pizzas work.  The supply chain center executives responded by saying that Domino’s buys specialized gluten-free pizza dough for people that are allergic.

In the last 50 years, Domino’s Pizza pioneered the pizza delivery business.  The company also played a leading role in developing pizza technology inventions and pizza-making methods that has become an industry standard.  This includes revolving pizza ovens, efficient dough mixers, insulated delivery bags, and corrugated pizza boxes.

Pizza dough comes up an elevator and a knife cuts it.

How The Domino's Dough Is Made

How The Domino’s Dough Is Made

Then a roller makes the dough into a ball, which then goes through a metal detector.  Every tray of dough has the date and size of the dough to ensure freshness for the stores.  To make sure that the company stays green, all of the trays are recyclable.  Every tray is washed and sanitized after being used.

Dough Made Into A Ball

Dough Made Into A Ball

The 40,000 sq. ft. Michigan Domino’s Pizza supply chain center does FIFO-cycle counts every day and they scan traceability codes.  The pallets have 1128 labels and they use RFID.  Domino’s has around 1.4 million trays in the system.

“We’re like the Keebler Elves!”

To prevent chaos, the deliveries are made after stores are closed.  “We’re like the Keebler Elves!” stated DJ Lawson, the director of Domino’s Michigan Supply Chain Center.  The ingredients are placed in the refrigerators of stores so it is ready to go by morning.  Domino’s delivers around 1 million pizzas per day.

Pizza Making In The Test Kitchen

After returning from the supply chain center, I was excited to get some hands-on experience in making a pizza.  When we entered the Domino’s Pizza kitchen in the basement of the headquarters, you will never believe who stopped by: Mr. Patrick Doyle, the CEO of Domino’s Pizza, to answer any questions we had.  He happened to be in town to film a commercial.  This is a picture of me with Mr. Doyle.

Left: Patrick Doyle Right: Amit Chowdhry

Left: Patrick Doyle Right: Amit Chowdhry

Some of the bloggers had questions like what his favorite pizza was and he said that he was a classic pepperoni guy.  I asked him what his day-to-day was like.  He told me that in the last two weeks, he has been to Manchester, England; Istanbul; Chicago; and Scotland.  Around that time, Domino’s opened their 10,000th store in Istanbul, Turkey.  Mr. Doyle told me that he really loves meeting all of the people that work with the company.  He believes that the people in the company are the foundation to what makes a company great.  He asked all of the bloggers what kind of topping they would like to see be added to Domino’s and I blurted out “mango.”

After Mr. Doyle headed back to finish up the commercial, all of the bloggers learned how to create a Domino’s Pizza from start to finish.  Below is what the final product before I stuck it in the oven:

Domino's Pizza Made By Amit Chowdhry

Domino’s Pizza Made By Amit Chowdhry

The first Domino’s franchise was sold on April 1, 1967 to Charles Oray, who opened a location in Ypsilanti, Michigan and was trained personally by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.  Within one year, many more offers were made to open new Domino’s Pizza franchises.   In 1968, the first out-of-state franchise was opened in Burlington, Vermont.  By the end of 1969, Domino’s Pizza had 42 stores and an estimated $8.1 million in sales.  In 1973, Domino’s Pizza opened their 75th store and sold their 20 millionth pizza.

Lunch With Domino’s Team

After we finished making our pizzas, all of the bloggers and I headed up to the board room where we were greeted by several managers, directors, and vice presidents at the company as part of an open discussion for lunch.

One of the questions I asked was about security.  Every month, millions of people enjoy eating Domino’s pizza.  Many of them order online and through the mobile application.  Consumers input their credit card numbers and personal information.  “How do you prevent hackers from getting this personal information?” I asked.

The Domino's Pizza Board Room

The Domino’s Pizza Board Room

Kevin Vasconi, the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Domino’s, told me that the company does not store credit card information in massive databases.  When a transaction is made, it is kept in a token that is deleted later on.  This way even if hackers found a way to penetrate a system, they would not be able to find anything.

Some of the questions that the one of the other bloggers asked the executives includes how the company is involved in philanthropy initiatives.

I learned that Domino’s sponsors St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital regularly and the distribution centers are highly involved in Feed America.  During Hurricane Katrina, Domino’s trucks brought generators and tens of thousands of pizzas to victims that were struggling.  During 9/11, Domino’s opened their stores and placed pizzas in police cars to take to Ground Zero, which I thought was a very noble thing for a company to do.

Domino’s Store Technology

After wrapping up lunch, the other two tech bloggers and I did a tour of a Domino’s Pizza store that was replicated inside of the headquarters.  Whenever Domino’s Pizza hires new employees, they are put through a one week rotation of training in the store.  The “customers” are employees within the headquarters.  This gives new employees great hands-on experience.

Recently Domino’s Pizza piloted an order queue system that lets people know when their order will be ready for in-store carryout orders only.  It shows the order number, name of the person, status of the order, and the order time.

Domino's Pizza Carry Out Display

Domino’s Pizza Carry Out Display

The Domino’s Pulse system started development in 2002.  The goal is to get all of the franchises on one unified and computerized system as part of a point-of-sale system.  If you have all 5,000 stores on one point-of-sale system, it makes sales more efficient.

Domino's Pizza Pulse System

Domino’s Pizza Pulse System

Around 85% of the items on the Domino’s menu are new since 2008.  There are over 34 million ways to create a single Domino’s pizza and pepperoni is the most popular topping.  Breadsticks were the first national non-pizza menu offered at Domino’s in 1992.  The Domino’s World’s Fastest Pizza Maker Pali Grewal can make 3 large pizzas in just 39.17 seconds.  Domino’s is 95% franchise-owned and they have 1,100 independent franchise owners in the U.S.  Around 30% of Domino’s orders are taken online in the United States.

The Domino’s Pulse system provides services like online ordering and a pizza tracker.  This lets customers follow their online order from the time that they place their order until the Domino’s delivery expert leaves the store.  Using the system, managers are able to improve upon their actual costs to increase profitability for the store and look into store operations when they are not there such as how long it takes to answer a phone or take an order along with how long it takes to make an order.

Mobile Apps and Dominos.com

Domino’s Pizza has an iPhone app, and Android app, and a Kindle Fire app.  The iPhone app has over 3.4 million downloads, the Android app has over 600,000 downloads, and the Kindle Fire has over 40,000 downloads.

Domino's Pizza iPhone App

Dominos.com has a Pizza Tracker feature that lets you find out what the status of your order is.  The Pizza Tracker lets you monitor the order being placed, the preparation, when the pizza is done baking, the quality being checked, and when the delivery expert is on his or her way.  In one of the demos, I learned that the company is trying out several different themes for the Pizza Tracker.  There is a beach theme and a rock-and-roll theme.

Another notable website feature that Dominos.com are front local store pages.  The local store pages has coupons, store hours, the order online feature for that store, product reviews, and a Foursquare feature to find out who “checked in” there.  Below is an example:

Additional Photos:

Phil Lozen at the headquarters talking about the signature Domino's Pizza bike

Phil Lozen at the headquarters talking about the signature Domino’s Pizza bike

The Domino’s Pizza Board Room
How Many Cinna-Stix Are You?

How Many Cinna-Stix Are You?

The best couch at the company headquarters

The best couch at the company headquarters

The story of the Domino's Pizza VW Bug -- In 1961, Domino's Pizza co-owner James Monaghan traded half his share in the company for a VW bug -- the VW bug car in the corner is a similar model

The story of the Domino’s Pizza VW Bug — In 1961, Domino’s Pizza co-owner James Monaghan traded half his share in the company for a VW bug — the VW bug car in the corner is a similar model

Domino's Pizza Truck - Photo Taken At Michigan Supply Chain Center

Domino’s Pizza Truck – Photo Taken At Michigan Supply Chain Center

Key Take-Aways

Domino’s Pizza is one the largest brands in the world.  The traditional model for a brand telling their side of the story is by drafting up a press release and blasting it out through a news wire.  The fact that Domino’s Pizza opened their doors to bloggers and said “this is who we are” and “this is what we are all about” was incredible.  Many companies are writing off social media as a fad, but Domino’s understands that it is a tool for their push to be transparent.  This makes the Domino’s brand feel like it is more down-to-earth rather than being an aggressive corporate overlord.

“We also felt like people were looking to be better connected, and pizza connects people. We felt like we could help folks connect with us as their brand through this mechanism of transparency. We felt like we had the ability to do that because transparency in this age is pretty unexpected. No one is transparent; everyone lies. But we have been a brand that’s had a history of being unexpected,” said Domino’s Pizza CMO Russell Weiner in an interview with Forbes last year (bold font added by Pulse2).

By being transparent as a brand, Domino’s is able to say “these are our flaws,” but we want feedback to get better.  While at the same time, the company is able to show what their core strengths are like massive customer satisfaction and a seamless supply chain.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Phil Lozen for inviting me to the event.  I would also like to thank the following people for taking their time to teach the bloggers more about the company: Patrick Doyle (Domino’s CEO), Lynn Liddle (Domino’s EVP of Communications and Investor Relations), Russell Weiner (Domino’s EVP of Build the Brand & Chief Marketing Officer), Kevin Vasconi (Domino’s EVP and Chief Information Officer), Ritch Allison (Domino’s EVP of International), Lance Shinabarger (Domino’s Vice President IT), Kelly Garcia (Domino’s Vice President IT), Tim McIntyre (Domino’s Vice President Communications), Amber Gadsby (Domino’s Director of Precision Marketing), Victoria Petrella (Domino’s Manager of Hispanic Marketing), Julie Pedraza (Domino’s Hispanic Marketing), Chris Brandon (Domino’s Manager Public Relations and Events), Libby Schreiner (Domino’s Public Relations), Larry Manning (Domino’s Supply Chain), and DJ Lawson (Domino’s Director of Michigan Supply Chain Center)

 

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at

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