Takeout is as American as the automobile – and the two are inextricably linked, for as people started to take road trips and work farther from home, they needed food that could travel with them. From box lunches to oysters, small restaurants and food stands popped up everywhere. After WWII, with American soldiers returning home raving about this disc-shaped wonder they discovered in Italy, pizza became a popular and convenient choice. Today, one in eight Americans eat pizza daily.
But what if pizza could come to you? That’s what two brothers who moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles decided to try. At Casa D’Amore, they introduced the idea of free delivery if your order was more than $2.50. And, with the advent of the internet, Pizza Hut pioneered the online ordering process in 1994 – in fact, the first online purchase ever made long before books or clothes. GrubHub and Seamless capitalized on this marriage of delivery and the Internet, and are now running food delivery platforms that operate in 700 cities and in 30,000 restaurants worldwide.
But delivery platforms, along with quality concerns, were ruining the pizza industry… and Domino’s was feeling the heat. In 2009, the national pizza giant was trading at just $7 per share and was ranked last in a customer perception survey. New CEO J. Patrick Doyle knew things had to change. He started his rebrand with a national advertising campaign that owned the company’s failures, and he began looking to technology to change the game. Now, half of Domino's 800 employees in Ann Arbor work in software, analytics and big data. Domino’s pioneered more native ordering techniques like ordering via text, smartphone app, Facebook messaging, tweet and emoji. And a 50 year-old company became a forward-thinking brand that was willing to disrupt itself. By embracing failure, Domino’s was able to reinvent itself as a technology company… and now they trade at $180 per share. Now that’s delivering on your promise.
“Patrick Doyle asked himself, 'How do we look at the power of technology, not just to make everything we do more efficient, although that's important, but to make ourselves a more memorable brand to encounter?”
Bill Taylor, Columnist Harvard Business Review
What you’ll hear in this episode
- The surprisingly bourgeois origins of in-home kitchens
- How the automobile changed the way we eat
- Oysters as takeout
- Pizza’s meteoric rise in the US, the result of WWII
- If you want to try a new way to buy something, test it by buying a pizza
- What was the first food item to be delivered?
- What was the first food item ordered online?
- The difference between charging a fee and a commission
- GrubHub and Seamless’ quest for world domination
- The power of owning your failures
- Domino’s – an underdog story
- Robots in the kitchen, drones as delivery
Is a food writer and food historian and the author of Tastes Like Chicken: a History of America's Favorite Bird.
Is a Los Angeles based journalist, writer, and consultant. He reports for Fast Company magazine, covering emerging technologies.
Is the co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company magazine and author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways.
Is a technology journalist, syndicated blogger and author of Sex, Bombs, and Burgers: How War, Porn, and Fast Food Shaped Modern Technology as We Know It.
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