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Hustling IT Along

Hustling IT Along

Ajay Kaul, CEO, Domino’s Pizza India, says that in a company where a minute too late means money lost, IT is the base on which speed is built

In the early 90's, Domino's outlets in the US called off their 30-minutes-or-free program after a woman sued the company when a harried delivery-person hit her. Media pressure to safeguard the lives of pizza delivery people soon came to India. Suddenly, pizza chains eased away from their 30-minute guarantees. Some companies moved to a 39-minute promise while others decided to forgo the concept entirely.

Domino's in India, however, stuck to its guns. It decided to make it's guarantee count while simultaneously taking the heat off delivery people. By using IT to tweak internal processes, the company took its focus on speed out of the street and into their stores. They made time - in addition to their pizzas - a differentiator that their competition can't beat.

Ajay Kaul talks about this journey and how, with the help of IT, Domino's introduced speed and accountability at every level.

How important is speed to Domino's USP?

Speed is a critical component of Domino's USP. But, we relate more to 'hustle' than to 'speed'. At Domino's, we have a saying: 'Hustle inside the store, not on the road'. We employ this motto to ensure that we deliver pizzas that are hot and fresh - in 30 minutes - without compromising the safety of the employee who is making the delivery. We operate with 'smart hustle' and positive energy inside all our stores.

Where does technology fit in the hustle?

Technology has an important role. It ensures that once an order is taken, it gets executed within 30 minutes. Through technology, we track load time, dispatch time and delivery time. IT helps us find patterns of systematic delays in specific areas or at specific times of the day, etcetera. Then these can be looked into and corrective action can be taken to improve our service to the customer.

To do all this, we use our POS (Point Of Sale) software. The software is tailor-made for the pizza delivery business. It has been designed externally and is meant primarily for 'quick-service' restaurants with specific focus on pizzas - 80 per cent of their customers are pizza companies. Fortunately, the software dovetails into the system which we use in the US, the user-friendly one that uses a touch screen. Our aim is to scale up from our POS to the US system over the next one or two years.

What benefits has the POS software given Domino's?

It has made the order-taking process simpler and faster and has also reduced the time it takes to train new employees. Initially, we tried to use our old infrastructure with the software, but we realized that the new software required better infrastructure if it was to deliver results. Therefore, we made significant investment in improving IT infrastructure at our stores. Providing training to employees to use the POS effectively and to use all its features still remains a challenge.

How does it help you make better business decisions?

The POS software helps understand consumer behavior. It tells us their preference of crust, toppings, etcetera. It also helps us customize offers for consumers. Marketing has already started using the POS database for CRM related activities. The database also helps us identify consumers who do not come back to us after eating once. It helps us understand them better and work out a plan to bring them back.

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