Be Creative, Have Fun

Saturday, 27 June 2009 08:31 by kpotvin

  

There I was last night at my son’s final Little League game under the big lights and in serious need of caffeine.  Eureka!  This is what Dunkin’ Run, Dunkin’ Donuts new group ordering app, is for.  Instead of running around with a notebook and pencil asking the other parents to place their coffee order, I could do it all with simple technology.  As it turned out, I only needed two coffees which my brain could handle but I could see exactly why Dunkin’ Run is useful – plus it’s just plain fun.

It’s fun to order pizza, too.  One fan recently twittered: "OMG...I am totally addicted to the Domino's Pizza Tracker thingy!!  Talk about interactive ordering!!  I can literally watch my pizza delivery."  There’s a passionate endorsement.  She is referring to the Pizza Tracker from Domino’s – and there is also the Pizza Builder.  Pizza Builder allows customers to chose from 14 quadrillion combinations to create their own pizzas online while Pizza Tracker then lets customers track that pizza from ordering to the moment it is out the door (“Ryan left the store.”).  These innovations have boosted customer satisfaction by decreasing ordering errors and removing the anxiety of the order process (“Where is my pizza?”).   Engaging customers in the pizza delivery experience seems to be working.  When it comes to online ordering sales, Domino’s jumped from an 11 percent share to a 28 percent share in the past 24 months and is now ranked No. 1.

Innovation may be serious business but there’s always room for a little fun.

Disclosure:  Splash has worked with Domino’s on PR initiatives unrelated to this post.

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News Splash Interview: How To Write A Book When You Have A Full Time Job

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 11:38 by kpotvin
 

 

This News Splash interview is with Tim McIntyre, Vice President, Communications, Domino’s Pizza, and co-author with Dave Melton of “Hire The American Dream, How to Build Your Minimum-Wage Workforce into a High-Performance, Customer-Focused Team.” Not only is Tim an exceptional writer but he is also one of the best PR professionals and corporate spokespeople out there.  By the way, I’ve seen Dave Melton’s teams in action and they are phenomenal – learn his secrets by reading “Hire the American Dream” – it’s relevant for anyone who manages teams.

News Splash (NS):  Tell us about “Hire the American Dream.”

Tim: Dave Melton [Domino’s Franchisee] has built a culture in his four Manhattan Domino’s stores seldom found in the quick serve industry. This is an industry where 150% turnover is typical and managers are replaced yearly in many restaurants. In Dave’s case, his average employee stays 8 years and managers average 6 years. When there has been turnover of managers, it was because the manager went on to become a store owner like Dave. Dave creates this culture by sharing his business philosophy and successes, and reinforcing that everyone wins when the store succeeds. This is a how-to book which shows that anyone can build this type of culture.

NS:  Dave asked you several times to help him write this book and you turned him down at first.  How come?

Tim: An editor from John Wiley & Sons saw an article about Dave in The New York Times and called him to say, “I think you have a book here for managers of entry-level, minimum wage employees.”  Dave came to me, said he had a book deal and asked me if I wanted to help write it.  I turned him down. I have a day job and it’s a pretty busy one. Besides, Dave lives in New York City – swing a pizza bag and you’ll hit a writer. I thought he could easily find a writing partner there. Dave approached me a second and then a third time, and said, “You know who I am. You know Domino’s. Let’s do this together.” I proposed the idea to my boss, Lynn Liddle, and Dave Brandon, Domino’s CEO, and said that if I participate, we will have an accurate portrayal of Domino’s Pizza and be involved in the final outcome. It can also help with recruiting and franchising as well as improve internal operations. I also outlined how I’d do it along with my job. They gave their full support.

NS:  How did you find time to write a book while working full time?

Tim: We had 12 weeks to turn in 60,000 words. We started in June 2008 and the full manuscript was due the day after Labor Day. I did a lot of writing at night, on weekends, on airplanes and on vacation. Dave provided me with a constant stream of ideas and insights into his business philosophies, how he manages people and how he’s built a culture for his stores. It was a matter of taking those gems and turning them into a manuscript. I came in to the office by 7 am before it opened, at lunch I’d pick up the project and then again at the end of the day. I had a supportive boss and family. I have the benefit of having older kids so I didn’t have to attend events like Little League games. I literally looked at the calendar and found chunks of time for writing. I never want to do that again. If I have another book in me, I’d write most of it before approaching a publisher. Then I would spend that time polishing instead of writing.

NS:  What did you learn about publishing during the process that could help others interested in writing a business book?

Tim: First, publishers like Wiley are looking for books that others can learn from. They like lesson books, not biographies. We always had to keep in mind: Will this help anyone? Is this useable stuff? That’s why we focused so much on offering practical tips on exactly what to do and how to do it. That was also the driving force behind the profiles of people who started as minimum wage employees but are now incredibly successful. For instance, Emir Lopez from East Harlem who worked for Dave had an opportunity to “escape” from his upbringing but he chose to go back and bring Domino’s to the neighborhood he grew up in. He saw opportunity that others didn’t – he knew the neighborhood and that people were hungry for a company to provide the same services that other communities enjoy. He was the first to bring food delivery to the neighborhood and the store has thrived. Our goal was to write a book with value on every page and tell inspiring stories like this.

I also learned the importance of Chapter 1. When someone is in a bookstore with their latte, they look at the front cover, the back cover, and then flip to Chapter 1. We wrote and rewrote that chapter four times because we were constantly pushed by Wiley on that first piece. It makes or breaks the sale.

NS:  There is nothing like a trip to gain perspective.  You just got back from an amazing trip to Machu Picchu.  Any epiphanies?

Tim:  Four days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was the most physically exhausting – and the most exhilarating – thing I’ve ever done. On day two, we walked (and walked!) up and over “Dead Woman’s Pass,” more than 13,000 feet above sea level, carrying packs on our backs. It felt like cinder blocks had been attached to our hiking boots. The air is thin and the trail is steep. At the same time, we were reveling in the incredible beauty of Peru and were marveling at the technological advances of the Inca people; it distracted us from the physical struggle of the trek. Traveling like this opens you up to the world, to new points of view and to different perspectives on history.  But if there was an epiphany, it was this:  you can overcome challenges if you’ve got the passion, the will and the tools to do so…whether those challenges are hiking the Inca Trail, writing a book in three months or something even more meaningful. You really can do things you didn’t think were possible.  All you have to do is try.

 

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Lesson from Times Square: No Sacred Cows

Friday, 12 June 2009 08:37 by kpotvin

I was curious to see the new set up in Times Square now that parts are closed to traffic, creating a pedestrian mall in the crossroads of the world.  Strolling through the other night, it was filled with tourists and natives alike, many resting on the lawn chairs placed on this empty stretch of Broadway.  Talk about bold.  Mayor Bloomberg’s solution to tackling congestion (traffic and crowds) in Midtown is out of the box and reminds us that when you are problem solving, nothing should be sacred.  Can you imagine the first meeting when someone suggested closing Times Square to traffic?  I’m sure it seemed quite complicated and possibly laughable.  And yet, why not?  Take a chance on fresh thinking.  Consider everything, even ideas that question those sacred cows in your organization. While the cabbies I spoke with weren’t happy with the new configuration, pedestrians certainly were.  Time will tell if this experiment becomes a permanent addition to one of my favorite cities. I think it will.  Remember, if you can make change there, you can make it anywhere.

 

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I love hoops&yoyo

Friday, 5 June 2009 11:50 by kpotvin

Anyone else find Hallmark's line of hoops&yoyo cards hilarious?  If you aren't familiar with the line, there are two characters -- a pink kitty and a green bunny who offer spirited back and forth on a variety of subjects.  Listen to some of their banter here.  My first job out of college was with a division of American Greetings and there weren't too many variations on the traditional greeting card back then.  At that point, sending a HUUUGE card was a novelty (oops, did I date myself?).  The card world has come a long way with innovations like e-cards, voice recording and sound technology to keep customers coming.  And the marketing has come a long way too.  hoops&yoyo not only have their own web site but they have a blog.  Guess we'll see them on Twitter soon.

 

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