Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Power Of Pizza & Honesty: 4 Lessons From The Revival Of Domino's

Of all the pizza delivery chains out there, Domino’s is my absolute favorite of the bunch. It wasn’t always that way, though.

A few years ago I would have told you that Domino’s pizza was actually pretty gross. Their cheese was dull, their sauce was bland and their crust had the charm of a cardboard box.

Case in point: In a 2009 survey that rated the taste preferences of consumers, Domino’s finished last -- tied with Chuck E. Cheese’s. Ouch.

But when Patrick Doyle took over as the new CEO of the company in 2010, he did something not many leaders and companies do -- they owned up to the fact that their pizza was not very good.

Since then, Domino’s has completely reinvented themselves and it has paid off in a big way. In the five years since Doyle took over as CEO, annual sales have risen to $9 billion (they were at $2 billion when he first took over). That is a lot of pizza and cheesy bread!

So what happened? What led to Domino’s big turnaround? Here are four lessons I’ve gathered from the revival of Domino’s:


Receiving criticism is tough. Now look, there are a lot of people in your life who will never be satisfied and their cheap shots from the cheap seats should be discarded into the nearest trash can.

But there should be a handful of people around you, a personal board of directors, who are able to openly speak the truth to you in love. They provide criticism that doesn’t aim to tear you down, but build you up. Criticism that doesn’t just identify problematic patterns, but offers solutions to consider.

Proverbs 15:31-32 says: “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” We don’t have all the answers, so we need to be open to God’s counsel and the counsel of those He has placed in our lives.

Domino’s conducted focus groups and listened to the concerns of the people they served. And instead of ignoring them, they responded.

Our growth and development depends on our ability to receive criticism from trustworthy people without getting defensive -- and then transforming that criticism into real-life solutions.


Doyle and Domino’s were honest with themselves about their product. They realized that their pizza could be better.

Being honest with ourselves does not mean beating ourselves up for our weaknesses. We tend to be our own worst critics sometimes, and we can be so harsh to ourselves that we end up going Oh well… This is just how it is and how it always will be. We throw in the towel instead of moving forward.

(Note: Being honest includes celebrating our strengths are -- Domino’s has always been at or near the top at delivering pizzas in the shortest amount of time possible. Celebrate your strengths while you identify your weaknesses!)

Domino’s didn’t look at their product, wallow in a pity party and continue making the same pizza they always made. They realized that their weaknesses weren’t just weaknesses -- they were also opportunities. Opportunities to get better, opportunities to make a change, opportunities to do something new and exciting. They used their weaknesses as inspiration and motivation.

Being honest with ourselves means identifying our strengths and our weaknesses, which are really opportunities for growth -- not only for ourselves, but those who are around us.


We’ve all heard the expression “honesty is the best policy.” It’s true (no pun intended)!

Domino’s acknowledged that they were not living up to their standards and vowed to do better -- not just with words, but with actions (a much improved product) to back up those words.

Shortly after Doyle took over as CEO, Domino’s launched a new marketing campaign and ran TV ads featuring Americans complaining about how bad Domino’s pizza tasted and ended with Doyle appearing on screen with an apology and promise: “We hear you America. Sometimes you know you’ve got to make a change. Please give us another try.”

And America listened. In the three months following the premiere of those ads, Domino’s saw its sales soar at the fastest rate in company history.

Honesty and humility are as attractive and alluring as a steaming hot pepperoni pizza fresh out of the oven. Be honest with people. Be open about your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to say I’m sorry.


If you’re not happy with the products your life is producing, you have to change the pattern. You have to be willing to change your process and your ingredients in order to get new and improved results.

That’s exactly what Domino’s did: they blew up their old pizza recipe and started something completely new. They used a more robust sauce, an upgraded crust, and new cheeses. The change was noticeable and tangible, and it won over the taste buds of pizza lovers who may have given up on Domino’s -- including myself!

Whether it’s tinkering with the process or tearing it all down, we have to be willing to make changes to our schedules our habits, what we think about, who we are spending time with, how we work… you get the idea.

But it all starts with allowing people to be honest with us, being honest with ourselves and being honest with the people around us. That’s where change begins.

Now... who wants some pizza?

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