As a gal who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, I’ll admit there’s nothing like an incredible slice of pizza (and that’s South Side pizza, by the way, not deep-dish “Chicago-style” pizza. I crave it—thin crust, zesty sausage and a sweet sauce you could almost drink it’s so flavorful). With this in mind, I grew up knowing you only ordered Domino’s pizza if you weren’t in Chicago, were desperate, and had to have it fast. After all, the only redeeming quality of Domino’s was you knew you could be biting down on something that slightly-resembled pizza within 30 minutes, given their on-time delivery promise.
Well, times have changed. If you’ve tasted a slice of Domino’s pizza since late 2009, you may have noticed an improvement in the cardboard crust and flavor-less sauce that defined Domino’s pies of years’ past. And you’re not alone in this revelation. Last year, the company took in over $1.5 billion in revenue. For the first time since 2007, domestic store growth was positive. But wait: have you seen any of Domino’s television ads in the last two years? Aren’t they talking about how bad their pizza is? So how is Domino’s 2011 first quarter net income up 10.6% in a market which 1%-3% growth is the norm? Domino’s new-found success can be attributed to 5 slices of truth we could all benefit from ingesting.
1. Honesty sells. Both the analysts and Domino’s CEO attribute this recent success to the pizza chains’ willingness to speak the truth. Domino’s knew their pies came in second behind microwavable pizza—and they admitted it. Not only did they admit it, they publicized it. For example, perhaps you’re interviewing for a new position where you’re lacking a specific, sought-after skill. Rather than pretend to own this trait or ignore the need, speak your truth. “Although I haven’t had direct experience with (x), I’m a pro-active, quick learner who will spend time outside of work hours getting up to speed on this issue. In fact, I’ve already looked into sources and have found …..” New to a sales position? Rather than pretend to be a savvy individual with all the answers, speak your truth. “Although I’m not as seasoned as others in this industry, I’m hungry, determined and committed to do whatever it takes to earn your business. Since I’m not able to rest on my laurels, I’m willing to go the extra mile in energy and research to provide you with the best solutions and service possible.”
2a. ASK for feedback… Domino’s aggressively sought the public’s opinion in hopes of deciphering why their product had lost popularity. After all, you can’t change what you won’t acknowledge. Foodies from across the country chimed in on Facebook, Twitter and their website, and, before they knew it, Domino’s had an overabundance of opinions why their pizza was sub par. Nine times out of ten there’s a reason you haven’t bypassed the top-seller or someone else beat you out for the promotion. Instead of wasting time wondering why, ask your supervisor/manager/boss to review your performance. Ask clients, colleagues and friends too. Not only will you find out why you’re not getting the extra zeros straight from the people cutting the check, but you’re also showing the people who matter you’re actively trying to. However, come prepared: as Domino’s quickly learned, sometimes the feedback isn’t exactly complimentary.
2b. …and don’t be too proud to own it. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but there’s no point in asking for the input if you’re not going to change your behaviors. The way I see it, all criticism is a gift to be opened and examined. Keep what resonates from those you respect. Be patient with the process. One of the most common complaints about Domino’s was that it was difficult to distinguish their crust from the cardboard box it came in. Using the feedback to their advantage, they concentrated a chunk of their campaign to develop a new crust recipe. Analyze the input you received and build your own recipe to success.
3. Revisit your strengths. Although your sales may have slumped or your raise wasn’t as fabulous, don’t forget the reasons why you were hired in the first place. For Domino’s, their 30 minute delivery was what kept me coming back on those late nights my buddies and I needed a fix. Don’t lose sight of what makes you different or unique from the competition. That being said, don’t hold onto it so tight that you are unable to improve in other areas. It wasn’t until Domino’s CEO recognized that delivery speed didn’t mean the quality of your pizza had to suffer. Newsflash: you can have great tasting pizza and have it within 30 minutes!
4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Cheesy, I know. (Okay, I’ll stop. No, I won’t). Although Domino’s is better than ever, let’s face it: their pizza still doesn’t even come close to the paper-thin slice of heaven from my old neighborhood. And, honestly, it’s going to take a lot more than throwing a couple extra herbs in their marinara. The truth is, as much as we all wish we could, you can’t make everyone happy. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and know your personal limitations. Yes, you want to be the best in your industry (and you will be!), but it takes time, patience and hard work to move up the ranks.
5. Enough thinking, start doing! You’ve done your research, now get cooking! Time spent moping around about your shortcomings is time you could have spent improving and getting more of what you really want. Create a plan to include small, daily actions to prove those who doubt you wrong—and do it! In my opinion, everyone deserves a piece of the pie. Go out there and get yours!