Inside Business | 3 min read

Appetite for Disruption

Scott Downing

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Scott Downing
Against a consumer ‘foodie’ trend of rejecting fast food giant brands and opting for healthier, artisanal options, Domino’s continues to excel. Its continual array of innovative product and service offerings – centred on digital technology, ease of customer use and speedy service – have made it a modern customer favourite.

So why is the customer experience so important to Domino’s success, and what’s the secret behind its string of success story innovations?

In a keynote speech at the CMO Disrupt event in Melbourne on 23 February this year,Scott Bush, GM of Domino’s in NZ, made it clear that a customer-focused approach to strategy has been the factor that’s driven the company’s innovations, and can explain the brand’s success.

In terms of product, he says, it’s just “selling flour, water, tomato sauce and cheese”, so finding and rectifying customer pain-points became a focus in 2006, when they launched the Domino’s Pizza Tracker.

“One of the first frustrations,” he says, “the customer places the order, they don’t know what happens to it, and they don’t know when it’s going to arrive.” The Pizza Tracker told online customers whether their pizza was being made, being cooked, or had been signed out and was on the way. “That was a massive step forward in terms of technology and being disruptive for something as simple as ordering a pizza,” Bush recalls.

Between 2006 and today, Domino’s has introduced GPS pizza tracking, SMS ordering, location-based push notifications and more. Its ‘DLAB’ innovation space is currently working on 40 further digital projects.

Its ‘Pizza Mogul’ platform – which lets pizza lovers create custom toppings, share them online and take a cut of profits for pizzas sold – has driven thousands of pizza creators to the brand, with hundreds of thousands of new pizzas invented.

Other projects include a new range of electronic vehicles, as “it makes no sense for us to deliver a 3kg package in a 2tn car,” Bush says.

They are working on rolling out drone delivery in New Zealand over the next 18 to 24 months (airspace regulations in Australia are a more restrictive, so this seems unlikely to happen here so soon).

In the US, Domino’s has rolled out a series of ‘DXP’ custom branded delivery cars. The modified Chevy Sparks include a custom warming oven instead of a backseat and a drinks, dipping sauce and napkin space instead of a passenger seat.

Bush began working for Domino’s as a delivery driver in 2003. He worked his way through the ranks as a store manager, franchise owner, New South Wales and ACT corporate state manager, and has been GM in New Zealand since 2013.

He’s a huge advocate for harnessing the power of ‘disruptive employees’ in the brand’s constant focus on customer satisfaction.He recalls standing in the back room of a franchise he owned in Mildura in 2004 and saying to his staff, “I have one request… that you understand totally that you’re my number one priority. The deal that we’re about to enter into is that your number one priority has to be our customers.”

His attitude hasn’t changed.

“Innovation just isn’t about digital, and it’s not about tech,” says Bush. “To be innovative is about customer service, customer interaction and all of the things that we do. Our mantra is we want to reduce friction for our customers through driving innovation. It’s a big part of our DNA,” he says, of Domino’s global innovation efforts.

His recipe for the right company culture to encourage this type of innovation is to “harness the crazy” of a “crazy leader” and to “go big, fail fast” and answer the ‘why?’. Such a leader is someone who can take charge, lead by example and challenge the default, he says.

“The crazy leader is that person that stands up in front of 1500 people and says, ‘We’ve been delivering pizzas for 30 to 40 years in somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes…10 is acceptable now’.” Others may say that’s crazy, but the fact is that there are around 100 Domino’s stores in Australia that can deliver pizza in 10 to 15 minutes.

Going big and failing fast tie in with this. “It’s got to be more than just a ripple,” he says.

“Every bit of data that we read daily tells stories. Around 70% of ideas never get implemented or developed because people are nervous to fail.

“You have to rule that out,” he says. “Make sure that with your own business unit, everybody understands that it’s OK to fail. That is now literally the world that we live in.”

Finally, when trying to innovate, ask if your idea answers the ‘why?’. “Does it address the need?” he asks. Or is it just noise?

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