My father founded Donatos over 50 years ago on the Golden Rule — treat others the way you would want to be treated. I remember as a kid, he emphasized how important even the littlest things were — not letting the delivery drivers go too fast down the alley, keeping the dumpsters clean or making sure we maintained the parking lot.
He wanted our neighbors to take pride in the fact that the restaurant was literally in their backyard.
Years later, I see why my father ran his business that way, and I’ve come to understand that being a good neighbor goes beyond that. It takes more than having the highest quality pizza or service and maintaining your curb appeal, customers want to know that you care.
Any successful business, big or small, needs to fully embrace what it means to be a good neighbor. For our family, it means giving back in every neighborhood and community where we’re doing business — not just because it makes good business sense, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Choose a cause
It’s important to involve your team when deciding where to invest your resources because it creates a personal connection. There are so many worthwhile causes, and authenticity makes a difference.
We’ve created a Goodwill Committee in our home office. Our director of first impressions works diligently to identify ways to raise funds through bake sales, raffles and other opportunities. At the end of the year, we match the amount raised by the home office associates.
Most importantly, though, the associates can vote where they want to allocate their “goodwill” dollars. Recently, the contributions have gone toward the South Side, Reeb Avenue Center.
Making charitable giving a part of our culture has helped the associates stand for something bigger than the pizza, and even greater than themselves. When you feel good about what you’re doing, you’re motivated to work harder, and that’s when business thrives.
Embrace the community
Work doesn’t always have to be done behind the four walls of your business — taking time to get out in the community is rewarding.
More than 30 years ago, Roger Howard, a current franchise partner, implemented a goodwill budget. This budgeted line item allows stores to sponsor a little league team or help to build a new playground, giving each manager the flexibility to decide where to invest time and resources.
Being involved also means participating in the community — attending the festivals, parades and local establishments makes the entire community stronger, more vibrant and prosperous.
Volunteer your time
As a leader in your industry, you likely have an area of expertise that would be of value to others. Try to search for opportunities where you can make a difference at a micro and macro level, whether that’s teaching a class or volunteering on a board.
At Donatos we believe “it’s bigger than pizza.” There’s more to business than turning a profit. Every piece of what we do is important, and giving back is no exception.
Jane Grote Abell is the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane is heavily focused on the chain’s mission of promoting goodwill through product, service, principles and people.