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.