Perhaps my favorite example of innovation is Tom Monahan of Domino’s Pizza. In fact, I spoke about him for the ten years that I was speaking on The Success Tour.
Tom is a very innovative and creative guy and his innovative attitude has communicated through his ranks and I’ll tell you my favorite Domino’s story.
There is a Domino’s franchisee who bought a Domino’s pizza place and opened it at a resort area near a resort lake. Now the first problem with his market area is most of the residences live there only six months out of the year. It’s a place where people come in the summer and really nobody stays there in the winter.
The second problem he discovered shortly after he was opened was there was no way that he could deliver the pizza in thirty minutes or less consistently…you all know that’s Domino’s guarantee…because it’s a big lake and the houses are stretched all the way around the lake and trying to do it in a car was impossible.
He needed to get the shortest route between the two points so he began to deliver the pizza by boat because every house was right on the lake with a little dock. So he was the first Domino’s franchisee to do it by boat.
The next problem he discovered was that boats don’t exactly stay stable like a vehicle does and so the pizza was getting there in thirty minutes but it was all smooched to one side of the box and stuck to the lid. Kind of the opposite of what it is that they advertise.
You know what they did?
The Domino’s engineers got together and invented a device solely for his use, no other reason, invented a device that holds the pizza’s in the boat, keeps them hot and keeps them stable regardless of what the boat does underneath it, which must somehow involve a gyroscope.
The next problem he had was that at night, unlike the lighted road and lighted address, the docks and the lake are dark. So his delivery guys were getting lost out there in the lake with the pizza. So he had to go around and put lights on everybody’s dock at his expense and paint numbers on the docks so when people ordered their pizza they could just give their dock number and the guy in the boat could get there.
That’s a lot of invention isn’t it to make a pizza business work? Here’s the up shot. That franchisee in a six month period of time out grossed two-thirds of what the Domino’s franchisee’s do all year long, and on an annualized basis (if you take what he does in six months and multiply it times two), he out grossed all 2,999 other franchisee’s last year as a Domino’s Pizza franchisee, delivering pizza by boat on his lake.
The ability and the willingness to innovate, to make it work is a very important characteristic.