How Patrick Doyle faced the reality of not being the best – and took steps to put Domino’s back on top

Make meaningful change

Doyle admits that much of what happened is unique to Domino’s, but there are still some lessons about change that are applicable regardless of the nature of your business. Chief among them, you need to make change that has an impact. Otherwise, your customer might not even notice.

Don’t change the label and expect consumers to embrace it as a real, meaningful improvement.

“There are a lot of incremental changes made by companies and trumpeted to consumers as something completely different,” Doyle says. “But consumers tune it out. They know it’s not true. They recognize it for what it is. You have to do things that are material in order to get consumers’ attention.

“You walk up and down the aisle in the supermarket, and there are all kinds of new and improved products, with starbursts and arrows pointing to what is improved. But all they did was change the color of the cap on the jar. And then the company is surprised that consumers don’t get excited about it. You lose credibility as a brand and a company if you so clearly overstate the magnitude of the change. You have to make changes that are real and relevant to consumers, and big enough that they’re going to notice.”

The Doyle File:

Name: Patrick Doyle

Title: President and CEO

Company: Domino’s Pizza Inc.

Born: Midland, Mich.

Education: B.A., University of Michigan; MBA, University of Chicago

First job: I was mowing lawns and maintaining some tennis courts when I was 12 or 13 years old. So pretty much as soon as I was tall enough to reach the lawn mower bar.

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

The fundamental lesson is that every business is about people, and the companies with the best people are going to win. If you’re recruiting the best and training the best, and getting the best excited about what the company is doing, you’re going to succeed.

What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?

The ability to listen well, the ability to build consensus when you need to build consensus and the strength of your convictions. Once you’ve listened, you go out and lead. That takes a bit of confidence sometimes.

What is your definition of success?

There are a lot of basic ones in terms of creating shareholder value, growing sales and earnings. But personally, what is most gratifying to me is to see the people we’ve brought into this business, whether employees or franchisees, winning and succeeding. It’s about seeing them build great careers and great businesses.