“I'd have a tough time sleeping at night if I was handing our food to an untrained, random third-party driver to then carry that over to our customer, because what happens when you have a service failure or you have a product quality problem in that situation?” Allison said. “Who's to blame? And I really like the closed system and the control that we have, that our franchisees have, around making sure that the great pizzas that they're producing every day get to the customer hot and fresh and delivered by a uniformed Domino's Pizza driver.”
Allison didn’t go into specifics during the call, but pointed out that the company’s research shows in-house delivery also runs significantly lower at cost than third-party. Size and speed play into the equation, too.
“We're probably advantaged in that relative to the other players simply by the fact that we've got significantly more scale,” Allison said. “And what really drives that cost per delivery is the number of deliveries per hour that we can get per driver, and the distance that we ask those drivers to take the food away from our restaurants.”
A growth strategy to combat third party
Domino’s plans to push against third-party delivery pressure with its fortressing strategy, which allows the company to deliver pizza quicker and more efficiently by flooding markets with multiple locations. The strategy lifted Domino’s past 16,000 stores. In Q1 alone, Domino’s debuted 200 units—27 net in the U.S. and 173 net internationally.
“Continuing to go faster on the fortressing strategy, shrinking down these service areas, putting in more technological tools for our operators, both corporate and allowing our franchisees to use tools as well to manage their own independent businesses, I think gives us a chance to continue to fight through the labor rate challenges and to continue to drive good dollar profit,” CFO Jeffrey Lawrence said.
Through fortressing, Domino’s can bring its products to more people, faster, and offer service superior to third-party options, Allison said. And customers appreciate the convenience. He added that customers aren’t willing to walk, drive, or ride a bike very far to pick up pizza—the average is about a mile. By maximizing its footprint in every market, Domino’s increases the likelihood of carryout pizza as well.
“[Carryout] is a piece of the business that we can really own and terrific profits in that business,” Allison said. “You don't have the same complexities and cost around managing the delivery side of the business.”
Franchisees also benefit from fortressing, he said. Domino’s works with already established operators to develop a specific market, instead of trying to link up with multiple vendors. One example: the sale of 59 corporate stores in New York to six franchisees who want to grow their businesses.