Domino’s CEO Don Meij’s 14 Lessons in 14 Years of Global Growth

Group CEO and Managing Director Don Meij

May is a significant month in the diary for Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited (“Domino’s”), as on 12 May 2005 the business became the first pizza company in Australia to list on the ASX.

Since then, Domino’s has expanded from less than 400 stores across Australia and New Zealand to more than 2,450 stores across nine countries – Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark – all from its humble Brisbane-based headquarters.

The journey from one market to nine and an annual turnover of more than $2.566 billion in pizza sales each year hasn’t been easy and there’s been many challenges and learnings along the way, but the Company continues to lead the way in the food delivery space, pioneering and transforming the industry.

Group CEO and Managing Director Don Meij joined Silvio’s Dial-a-Pizza as a delivery driver in 1987 and now leads a global pizza empire, with a local focus.

Here’s the 14 lessons he’s learned in 14 years of global growth:

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.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited (ASX: DMP) is Domino’s largest franchisee outside of the USA. It holds the master franchise rights to the Domino’s brand and network in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark. Today, DMP has a network of more than 2,450 stores.

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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