How a Top Domino’s Franchisee Empowers Operators
Since the early days of technology emerging within restaurants, there have always been challenges with fine-tuning the balance between the ideas of the technologists and the expectations of the operators. Since then, we’ve seen the continuous tug between innovation and usability, between the cutting-edge and the consistent. Years of trial and error have left some brands still scratching their heads, wondering how to effectively drive a technology strategy heading into 2019 while empowering and supporting operators.
Domino’s has been viewed as an undisputed technology leader over the last several years throughout the industry. The brand’s ability to effectively execute on a digital technology strategy that drives sales has been a significant contributor to its recently earned spot as the largest pizza seller worldwide. While the franchisor focuses heavily on guest experience and product quality, forward-thinking franchisees have been complementing the strategy with close attention to their operators.
Alan Lovelace, Vice President of Administration of RPM Pizza, the largest Domino’s franchisee, weighs in on how his team empowers operator users of technology to drive positive experiences within their restaurants:
Q: What type of partner should IT be to operators?
Lovelace: My technology manager and I both started in the stores and then moved into the world of technology; we are passionate about operators and understand their pain. We realize that in our role, operators are our primary customer. We look for constant opportunities to serve them and remove barriers to their business’ success. As a result, this year my team toured 30% percent of our 183 stores with our key operations leadership. Through this exercise, I’ve been able to see either the pain that we’ve been unintentionally causing or the success that we have been driving outside of our ivory tower.
I also think that our pay should be based on how effectively we are serving operations; this includes measuring support response times, field communication, solution quality, and the actual cost of the technology. We give our operators the ability to rate us, which in turn guides compensation throughout our entire technology team. Over the last 6 months, this new approach has resulted in our first response time improving by 67% and the full resolve time improving by 78% without hiring any new people.
One other key is that we work proactively to schedule upgrades around minimizing operational impact. We realize that technology isn’t always flawless, so we need to anticipate issues occurring to keep our restaurants running smoothly.
Q: How do you partner with your franchisor around technology in your stores?
Lovelace: Dominos also does a great job of defining the technology roadmap for our stores. We regularly participate in pilot programs with a small group of our stores to provide early feedback and to ensure that future technology rollouts are successful for the brand. We want our managers to be able to focus on running their stores instead of dealing with administrative items such as troubleshooting technology issues. Our goal is to continue to evolve the way that we support our managers to make their job of running our stores easier. As a result, we place an increased emphasis on operational support.
Domino’s corporate offers a robust support organization for the Pulse platform that we complement with our own in-house helpdesk. Our helpdesk is open 12 hours per day during the week and is able to resolve most issues that arise in our restaurants. When we can’t resolve an issue or are not open, we are able to rely on corporate support with the confidence that our operators are in good hands.
As of this year, Dominos also manages the menu and coupon services for us; we have realized that there is definitely an economy of scale benefit with this approach including more consistency and standardization, which ultimately results in a quicker resolution to issues when they arise.
Q: Which emerging technology do you think will have the biggest positive impact to operators?
Lovelace: Domino’s is already a data-driven company. Domino’s already does a great job of putting guest data in context to improve our guest experience, at this point I’d like to see the same philosophy be applied to our operators. The key next step in my mind is to make the lives of the team members in our stores easier through capitalizing on the data that we are already collecting.