14 lessons from 14 years of growth with Domino's CEO Don Meij

Written on the 22 May 2019 by Business News Australia

14 lessons from 14 years of growth with Domino's CEO Don Meij

It has been 14 years since Domino's (ASX: DMP) listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

In this 14 years Domino's Pizza Enterprises has expanded from 400 stores in Australia and New Zealand to 2,450 stores across nine different countries: Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Luxembourg, and Denmark.

At the helm of the Brisbane based company is Don Meij, the group's CEO and managing director.

Meij joined Silvio's Dial-a-Pizza as a delivery driver in 1987. Now, he leads a global pizza empire.

These are the top 14 lessons Meij has learned from 14 years leading a listed multinational.

1. Culture comes first

Understanding cultures and adapting to them was the first step in the process of global expansion. Every time we enter a new country, we consider ourselves entrepreneurs with a competitive business model. We work hard to understand the local culture and adapt our business model accordingly. For example, when we first entered the Japanese market, they weren't big pizza eaters. In fact, fast food in general was considered a one-off or celebratory purchase. So, we adapted our strategy. Now, Japan contributes to 20 per cent of the Company's EBITDA and continues to grow year on year.

2. One size doesn't fit all.

The most popular pizza size in The Netherlands is small. Customers order multiple small pizzas as individual meals, rather than ordering large pizzas to share. In contrast, last year in Australia we launched our biggest pizza ever The Big One which is so big it can't be delivered and only just fits through the front doors!

3. Something for everyone.

From gluten free bases to vegan cheese, it's important that our menu can be adapted to suit everyone's dietary requirements and lifestyle choices. In 2018, we launched vegan cheese in Australia and New Zealand, which quickly became a crowd favourite and staple on our menu. In New Zealand, the Kiwis love potato wedges on their pizzas and in Japan exotic seafood is a crowd pleaser, so it really does go to show that taste and dietary requirements vary significantly.

4. Fresh is best.

In all of our markets we make our dough fresh in-store every day it may cost us more and it may take more time, but it's absolutely essential in delivering customers a final product we are proud of. And everyone knows the best pizza starts with the base!

5. Pizza is remarkably versatile.

While the base of dough, sauce and cheese is essentially the same everywhere, pizza toppings can be customised to suit local tastes. For example, last week we launched a Hawaiian Spaghetti pizza in New Zealand!

6. You've got to know the language.

There was no word for pepperoni in Japanese when Domino's first opened in the country and menus in Belgium are printed in three languages: French, Flemish and English.

7. Safety is everything.

We invented GPS Driver Tracker as a safety program for our team members; particularly for our emerging scooter and e-bike culture. With GPS Driver Tracker, stores can visually see the route the Delivery Expert took, the speed at which they were travelling and whether they stopped unexpectedly for long periods of time.

8. Time is the enemy of food.

Over the year's we've learnt that the quicker we can get a pizza onto a customer's plate, the more satisfied they are. That's why we have such a strong focus on increasing efficiencies and shaving minutes off delivery times. The Yotsuya store in Japan currently holds the world record for delivery, with a safe delivery time of 2.63 minutes across an entire week!

9. There's always a better way to do something.

One of the biggest challenges in our business is breaking muscle memory. Just because we've always done something one way, doesn't mean there isn't a better way to do it. For example, many of the other Domino's markets don't use flat boxes (where you can fold the box around the piping hot pizza and hustle it out the door). Instead, they spend hours a week making up individual boxes and handling one box 12 times instead of five only to have to find somewhere to store them. Once we remove the way we have always done something and consider how it could or should be done, we open our business up to a world of possibility.

10. "How did they do that?"

It's all about creating those 'wow' moments for our customers and encouraging them to question how something was even possible. Whether that be the speed of delivery, the quality of the product, or the price, our goal is to make the entire experience one they will remember. We are relentless in our focus on product, service and image.

11. Create inspired products and services.

Our number one customer complaint is "My pizza doesn't look like it should". So, we created DOM Pizza Checker, a world-first technology solution which will drastically improve product quality and consistency across all stores in Australia and New Zealand. Sometimes, the solution to a problem doesn't even exist yet. So why not work with the best partners in the space to provide a solution to your biggest problem?

12. Community is everything.

When disaster strikes our teams are always there to lend a hand and keep spirits high with piping hot pizzas. Recently, during the Townsville floods in Queensland our local franchisees gave away more than 2,000 pizzas to emergency workers and community members. When disaster strikes, we do what we do best get piping hot meals into the hands of people who need to be fed.

13. The world, despite its differences, loves pizza.

Pizza is the meal that brings people together and all great conversations happen over a slice (or two). In fact, more than half our earnings are now offshore, which shows just how much pizza is enjoyed right around the world.

14. Success is a journey, not a destination.

We are, and will always be, a work in progress business. Which means we are always challenging ourselves to be better, and regardless of the number of markets we operate in, or our annual turnover, that will never change. At Domino's, we never arrive.

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