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Domino’s Pizza Goes From Quick to Quality to People

Four years ago, Domino’s Pizza set out to change its brand image. Their focus shifted from quick, fast delivery to tasty quality. The pizza franchise company made the shift in a public way, including customers in the ongoing feedback loop. But now, they’ve added people to the mix.

Fast – pizza in 30 minutes in fact – was the Domino’s promise for many years. Lawsuits and safety concerns caused the large company to annul that 30-minute promise, but the company brand was still tied distinctly to short, prompt delivery times. Over the years, however, Domino’s Pizza became known for something else that didn’t serve them well: really, really bad pizza. The company had to effectively, begin again.

With new recipes on the menu and a branding campaign under its belt, Domino’s has kicked in for Change Round 2. This time the focus is on its people, the ones who get their hands all doughy each day or meet you at the counter. How refreshing!

Good People. Good Pizza.

Good People. Good Pizza.

Folks tend to dismiss fast food workers as flighty, uneducated or simply 16. In fact, many of them may be underemployed family men or women, as the recession has claimed the security for many Americans. Many may be fringe folk who couldn’t fit into a corporate cubicle if they tried. But there are yet others who choose the jobs because the flexibility affords them a certain freedom to work on other projects. Had they parents with deep pockets to foot their bills while they created their art, maybe they wouldn’t be kneading dough. By maybe, just maybe, the concept of pride in one’s work can even apply to fast food.

The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it. Pearl S. Buck

The new national TV ad featuring several employees reveals their outside arts and dreams. It is inspiring to see them talk about their work inside the franchise and out of it as if it is something they truly enjoy.  Originally I’d intended this blog post to focus simply on the shift from time to performance, but the new ads brought up a particular memory of my fast food days.

At 16, I worked at the brand new McDonald’s that opened in Paso Robles, CA. As soon as they announced that the store would be opening, I applied. I was part of the original staff trained to bring the Big Mac™ to my small town. I moved up quickly and became Asst. Manager in charge of closings three nights per week and openings at 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, big stuff I thought for a high school kid.

By senior year I was ready to go to college. While interviewing for a local organization’s scholarship, I met with a group of three members who wanted to know more about me, what I did, the basic things they ask in those sessions. One question was about work outside of the school, and I was beaming at my title and responsibility. A member of the interviewing team, a woman, later smiled when giving me the check and said, “it was just so cute how you were actually proud of your work at McDonald’s.” The words stung a bit, the hint of condescension lingering.

At that point, I had no idea that McDonald’s work was something I shouldn’t have been proud of, that I should have considered it just a step that I could tuck away once I moved on.  I’d been raised by my grandmother to be proud of honest, hard work so I didn’t see it as less than other work.

Decades later, the comment still bugs me.  I’m not naïve; I understand the hierarchy of position and influence. I respect order. But that doesn’t erase the opportunity to learn valuable skills like making customers happy as I learned there, because you’ve never had a customer as angry as a mother who needs more burgers at  her 4 year-old’s birthday party table. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be proud of the best drive thru record (yeah, I won it!)

Perhaps if, as a country, we decided to pay more respect to workers as we pass them in grocery stores, fast food counters, cabs or cleaners, we’d get the better service that we feel entitled to demand. Don’t talk down to them or be dismissive because your shoes may cost more than their monthly salary. Take note of the people who are proud of what they do and reward them with a thank you. Respect people.

So now that Domino’s has said boldy, “hey – we’ve got some good, hard-working, talented people here who do some really cool stuff,” maybe other companies will follow suit. The living wage issue, well that’s another matter of respect that must be addressed. But, for now, we begin with a basic human respect and appreciation for good, hard work. It just might help create a better circle of service and excellence that benefits us all AND good pizza!

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This entry was posted on 02/14/2014 by in All About the Business and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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