Where is the brand before the crisis?
Before the Covid, we had 420 establishments, 95% of which were franchised, with a turnover divided equally between delivery and take-out… On-site catering is almost non-existent. It’s more troubleshooting, with high tables in establishments located, for example, near a university or a hospital. We are part of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, a form of master franchise located in Australia (it has 3,000 points of sale out of the 18,000 of the brand worldwide) which therefore covers Australia, Japan and Europe. It has been very helpful to be part of a global group in such a crisis. It allowed us to work together to reorganize the work in the points of sale, protect the teams and the customers and quickly set up contactless delivery, the plexiglass. We had to get the information back, reassure the teams, since the President of the Republic explained to us that we were at war and that we had to stay at home.
For delivery, do you go through aggregators?
No, it’s our job. We are delivery specialists, you can’t just improvise. We do not make multiple deliveries, even if the orders are close, to be sure to deliver hot. And 99% of our employees are on permanent contracts, often young people who work between 15 and 20 hours a week. They are trained in road safety, to deliver a flat pizza… They have equipment that belongs to us, or belongs to the franchisees, which is therefore maintained. We know who delivers. This service is so important that you cannot outsource it to someone you don’t know. We sometimes have a delay, an error, but it is dealt with with the customer: with this in mind, we use Critizr (start-up oriented on the customer experience, editor’s note). On the other hand, we work with the platforms for order taking. Their commission is therefore much lower, since it is us
who ensure the delivery.
When the confinement was decreed, what did you do?
We closed, paused for 15 days. We distributed the fresh products we had in our points of sale, and in the two factories where we make our dough, to hospitals, firefighters, people who were on the front line. We offered rather than threw away, it really bonded the collaborators. During this time, the team did an amazing job finding the masks, gels, plexiglass, etc. This allowed us to reopen a large part of the establishments after two weeks, not all of them, in particular not those which were in Alsace-Lorraine, then submerged by the wave. We even restarted our two factories (in Gennevilliers and Nantes, editor’s note), but doing everything necessary to protect everyone. To enable our employees and our suppliers to work in safety.
For what impact?
During this period, pizza delivery increased to 90% of our business, which created a huge strain on the system. The 6 p.m. curfew further complicated the situation; there were a lot of delivery requests, especially in a country that eats at 8 p.m. We had to equip ourselves with more bicycles, electric scooters, teams to deliver when we had more absentees, contact cases during that time. But we were lucky, we were able to work. All the teams, those of the franchisees as well as that of the head of the network, did a great job, we learned to communicate differently, to work in video… It’s interesting when you have no choice. Today, we are on hybrid systems; we continue to make updates every 15 days by Zoom, it is a practical way of giving information. We weathered the storm together, we didn’t always all agree, but all the franchisees made it through; we didn’t lose anyone along the way.
How do you see consumption changing under the effect of Covid?
The health crisis has accelerated demand for delivery – some consumers, especially young families, have discovered this service and its convenience since March 2020 – and reinforced certain supply-related trends: the desire to buy made in France – very French –, the vegetarian, the animal welfare movement… We have to be agile to be in line with these expectations; we must arrive neither too early nor too late. We therefore set up an advertising campaign on the French origin of our cheeses, on our delivery service, to explain that we deliver a lot by bike, electric scooters, since we are three quarters on electric.
We try to be sensitive to changing customer mindsets so that we don’t one day become the Nokia of pizza. In terms of supply, we signed with the CIWF, Compassion in world farming, an NGO present in France and with which we are committed to the better chicken commitment. The tomatoes come from France when it’s the season, the emmental, the Beaufort, the raclette cheese are PDO, the fresh cream is made from French milk. We are also working on our pizza bases to offer labels to our customers. We have just launched the Nutri-score display on existing recipes; as with personalized recipes, we have a million possibilities, it takes a lot of time, but we plan to develop the Nutri-Score on that too. Still in the same spirit, we are working with chefs and R&D on a pizza A.
The new Signature range
You have been offering a Signatures range since September, can you tell us about it?
We already had a Signatures range, but we have completely renewed it. We wanted to show that we were certainly fast food but that we had a real know-how in terms of pizza, with a more Italian inspiration. We went for ingredients that you don’t usually get, like king prawns, Kelamata olives, etc. This range is good for customers, but also for the teams, who are very proud of it; it’s as if everyone became a bit of a chef… To achieve this, it was necessary to put training online, because good design was not enough, it was also necessary that young people who work part-time l elaborate perfectly. The feedback is very positive: the clientele is very surprised, they like it, it even broadens them. Signatures pizzas are selling well, but they will never make as much volume as the rest of our pizzas. The objective is to satisfy very demanding customers in terms of quality – it is important for us to work on this image – with prices increased accordingly. Even though it is made on an industrial scale, our fresh dough is made by hand, with fresh ingredients. And each pizza is produced individually at the request of the customer with the ingredients he wants. This idea of personalization is very important. This is the direction of the “Create your own pizza” option that we offer.
You launched your loyalty program in 2020, what are the results?
We are going to celebrate the first anniversary of this online program that our customers have been waiting for. It works well and is largely within the objectives: a large part of our business is carried out with people who are in this loyalty program.
How do you see the rise in raw materials?
It is a misalignment of the planets. There’s a problem with transportation, labor, inflation. With our teams of buyers, we will seek to minimize the impact on business and on customer prices – we know that there is price sensitivity – but we will not escape it completely. The increases on the cardboard are very important. We cannot absorb them. We are not the worst off, our size gives us bargaining power. In addition, we have for our customers a cheaper option than delivery, the take-out sale. In difficult economic times, we sometimes see an increase in this channel.
How do you envision the coming months?
We want to keep growing; Only 35% of the French population can be delivered by Domino’s, which means that in terms of coverage, our 450 points of sale are not enough. We have opened around forty points of sale over the past few months in difficult conditions. Our objective is to accelerate to double the size of the network… as quickly as possible.
What about labor issues?
We recruit a lot of students at the university, it’s important. You have to show them the attractiveness of teamwork; sure, it can be hard, but it can also be fun and provide career opportunities. Many of our franchisees are former delivery people, we are very proud of that. We have an in-house program, Emerging Leaders, to develop young people with potential, give them “business” training with the Chamber of Commerce and allow them to become franchisees. Each year, we have one or two classes. We much prefer internal candidates – whether they are already franchisees or come from this program – even if we sometimes integrate a few franchisees from outside. This is something very important and which adds to the attractiveness of our brand.
What about digitization?
Our business is very digitized, orders are mostly made online, our communication on the platforms too… We are going to move more and more towards an individualization of communication.
What progress between 2019 and 2021?
The delivery takes a little more weight than before, but the VAE returns. And as I explained to you, with the question of purchasing power, we should return to the previous level of VAE, or in any case, a 55/45.
And the packaging?
It’s a sensitive subject, but we are already at the minimum of what we can offer: 72% of the delivery cardboard is recycled, the remaining 28% is the part in contact with the pizza.
DOMINO’S PIZZA FRANCE IDENTITY CARD
Number of points of sale : 450 establishments, 95% of which are franchised
2020 turnover : €267m
Average ticket : less than 20 €