It’s 2009 and a video of Domino’s employees tainting food is going viral.
At the same time, focus groups have been telling Domino’s that their pizza tastes like “cardboard with ketchup-y sauce”.
Fast forward to last month, when Domino’s officially surpassed Pizza Hut as the leading pizza chain both in the US and across the globe, with overall sales increasing by more than 93% since 2009.
How did they do it? And better yet, what can you take away from this incredible turnaround?
Patrick Doyle, the Turnaround King
Much of Domino’s current success is attributed to Patrick Doyle, who came on as CEO in 2010 and recently announced his scheduled departure this June, now that he says he has (noticeably) achieved many of the goals he’s set for himself as CEO. In a statement released about his departure, Doyle said:
“One of the great honors and opportunities of my professional life was being named CEO of this incredible brand in early 2010.
At the time, I set three goals for myself:
I wanted us to become the No. 1 pizza company in the world; I wanted Domino’s to provide our franchisees with the best possible return on their investment by creating a dramatically better experience for our customers; and I wanted to have a leadership team in place that would be ready to create even better results into the future.
I’m proud to say that we’ve accomplished all of those goals, and I will leave Domino’s knowing that it is in great hands.”
How did he achieve those goals?
Listen to Your Customer
When consumers told Domino’s their pizza was akin to eating baked cardboard topped with cheese, they took the criticisms to heart. Part of creating a “dramatically better experience” for their customers was listening to what their customers were saying and accepting that as the truth. There was no sugarcoating or any effort to try to find customers who would say nice things about Domino’s instead, as you’ll see in the next move Doyle made.
Be Honest, Especially When It Hurts
Doyle grabbed customer’s attention with his brutal honesty, by stepping in front of the camera for a new wave of Domino’s commercials that acknowledged how bad their pizza was and what they were doing about it. I’ll admit that these commercials even grabbed my attention. It isn’t often if ever that a company admits their product tastes like cardboard.
Use Negative Feedback to Improve Your Product
The main part of giving your customers a better experience is delivering the best possible food. Domino’s showed real Domino’s employees making improvements to every aspect of their pizza, and then sending out the new pizza to customers to taste-test it against leading pizza companies, to prove that they’d improved their pizza.
Make Your Customer Experience Easy
Once you’ve fixed your product, how do you become the #1 pizza company in the world? By making it as easy as possible for your customers to order your food anywhere, anytime. Domino’s had already led industry tech by offering the Pizza Tracker in 2015, and allowing customers to track their order on the Domino’s app from oven to doorstep. Doyle pushed his team to make it easy for people to order at a stoplight. This led to the “Easy Order” function in the app, allowing customers to save their favorite order and order pizza with one tap.
Use Technology to Be Everywhere Your Customers Are
Having nailed the basics of mobile ordering, Doyle then tasked his tech team to turn their attention to being ubiquitous. Now, by logging onto Twitter and tweeting a pizza emoji at Domino’s, you can have your favorite pizza delivered to your door. Domino’s allows you to order with your voice, smartphone, or smartwatch. You can order Domino’s at work through Slack. By understanding and adapting to changes in both communication and consumerism, and valuing the relationship between the two, Domino’s was able to implement something new and relevant in a time where grabbing customers’ attention is hard and changing their impression of you is harder.Grabbing customers' attention is hard and changing their impression of you is harder. Click To Tweet
Now, it’s possible that your restaurant’s brand doesn’t need to take orders from customers tweeting emojis, but the basics of business are still the same – Patrick Doyle’s work at Domino’s proves the incredible value of listening and reacting to customer feedback with radical integrity.