How Domino's Pizza Forced Itself To Change Using Island Warfare
By the end of 2009, Domino's Pizza had reported nearly ten straight quarters of declining sales.
The company had become so good at the speed of delivery, that it had let the quality of its product sink to last place, as rated by consumers. Moreover, it found itself competing with new takeaway options like Subway, Quiznos, and other sub sandwich shops. Domino's needed more than just new menu items—it needed a whole new approach to product. Domino's then spent two years developing new sandwich products and improving their staple recipes, using consumers and franchisees as test subjects throughout the process.
Once leadership was confident in the new menu, it drew a line in the sand.
If you ever read The Art of War, they say the best way to win a war, if the war is fought on an island, is to blow up the bridge. Everyone’s fighting to the death, because there’s no retreat. When we knew the product was so much better than our old one and the competition’s, we felt like we could go for it. So we blew up the bridge.
– Russell Weiner, CMO
Domino's launched a series of ads, dubbed "Pizza Turnaround", that featured real customers complaining about the quality of Domino's products and executives openly admitting that things had to change. The ads ended with a money-back guarantee, promising a full refund for unsatisfied customers. With that call to arms, every executive and franchisee had no other option but to fight tooth-and-nail for unparalleled product quality.
At the end of Q1 in 2010, Domino's saw a 14.3% growth in sales over 2009, easily eclipsing their rivals in all categories.
Takeaway: Admit and accept the hard truths of your business. Work tirelessly to test your way out of failure. Then, burn the bridge behind you and force your team forward.