People first, pizza second: how Domino’s keeps growing by engaging its frontline employees

Josine, our Product Marketing Manager, caught up with Dennis Batbayli, Head of People and Culture at Domino’s Germany, to get a taste of how the world-renowned pizza brand engages its frontline employees – most of whom are from the younger generation.

Prior to his eleven years (and counting) in the pizza business , Dennis started his career in the fitness industry. Yes, we were surprised too. It’s obvious that fast food and fitness are worlds apart, but the common thread, for Dennis, has always been the people and the company culture. Keep reading to see how he successfully engages the brand’s frontline employees by using  Domino’s Chat, a branded employee app created by Speakap.

dennis-introduction

Q Josine

Employee engagement is clearly a very big part of your role at Domino’s. Why is engagement so important to you?

A Dennis

Well, it’s important for us, as a company, to grow the business. And we’re able to achieve that with more sales and an increased number of stores. But, in order to grow in those areas, it’s crucial to engage our employees and make sure that they have a deeper connection to the brand, beyond just making and selling pizza. A big part of my job is to spend time with employees and give them training that includes culture classes, quality knowledge, product image, etc. For instance, when Domino’s purchased two big pizza companies in Germany, with around 360 stores combined, we had to work on the culture change. We worked hard to make sure that there was a connection between frontline employees and the head office, and that’s tricky to do when you’re dealing with franchise partners who’ve been in the pizza business for 30+ years. Just because there’s a Domino’s logo on the wall, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can relate to the brand. And if our frontline employees, who engage with our customers every day, don’t relate to or feel good about Domino’s, it’s bad for business.

Q Josine

Interesting. But then how did you get franchise partners and employees to embrace the Domino’s culture?

A Dennis

The first thing we did was personally visit employees in all Domino’s stores across Germany. This allowed us to build trust. I was on the road for some time, training frontline employees about the company culture. It was tiring, but definitely worth the time and effort. For general employee engagement, we use quizzes and games on Domino’s Chat (our white-label employee app created by Speakap). For instance, instead of circulating a photo of our new store, which is what we used to do, we now hype up our employees with a quiz and a 100 euro merchandise gift voucher for the lucky winner. This brings tons of likes, and comments, but also excitement and motivation. We want to incentivize franchise owners to expand their businesses too, and that can’t just be about Domino’s and what Domino’s wants. We need to create an atmosphere that’s mutually beneficial.

featured-dominos-blog

Q Josine

So, how do you work with employees from different generations and adapt to their communication needs?

A Dennis

The frontline employees we communicate with are mostly young because our franchise partners generally have younger operational managers. And using Domino’s Chat probably comes as second nature since they’re already used to social media apps. We also have a monthly webinar series and a Domino’s Academy, which are specifically tailored to younger talent. Another topic that we announce and talk about on Domino’s Chat. I also use the employee app to get feedback from frontline employees on topics they’re interested in such as product launches, customer complaints, and management. And we recognize that our frontline employees want to be heard. We use Domino’s Chat to increase employee well-being by making sure that our people can contribute. It’s important that they feel part of the team because we’re all in this together. And when I ask for feedback, they do give it, often in the form of a comment on the employee app, or in a private message.

Q Josine

What do you believe is the role of Domino’s Chat when it comes to employee engagement?

A Dennis

We keep in mind that every employee is a potential future franchise partner. The employee app is, therefore, crucial to understanding employees’ needs and making feedback available. We’re able to be transparent with our frontline employees, which is important to us. One of my colleague’s responsibilities is to look at the pain points of employees – including any red flags – and determine how to tackle them. That’s how we improve the response time to avoid any frustration. We also made great use of Domino’s Chat during the lockdown period of COVID-19. We were concerned about how to stay connected and engaged with our frontline employees, but – thankfully – we had just launched the employee app. It was perfect timing.

Q Josine

Good timing indeed! And why was Domino’s Chat so important to have during the lockdown period of COVID-19?

A Dennis

Communication and feedback were instant. Our stores were closed for pick up, but our delivery kept running, and so we had to adapt to a lot of change. We were also the first with contactless delivery and were able to roll that out quickly and effectively due to our ease of communication with our frontline employees. For example, I was able to reach everyone with video tutorials on contactless delivery. Within a few weeks, we grew our sales a lot despite our stores being closed for pick up. And that was a challenge because it was unexpected. We had to produce much more dough for example and needed more employees. Just talking to franchise partners wasn’t enough during COVID-19, and emailing was out of the question because of its outdated format and frontline employees not having a business email address. I was able to make sure through Domino’s Chat (our white-labeled employee app created by Speakap) that everyone was well supported.

dominos-team-2

Q Josine

Very insightful. And has the employee app helped you specifically in your role as Head of People and Culture at Domino’s Germany?

A Dennis

Yes, definitely. I’m pretty sure that without Domino’s Chat it would be challenging to help people understand our company culture. I can only measure this on mood and attendance, but we are on the right path if I compare it to the culture we had two years ago. For instance, I see that frontline employees in different cities are much more connected with each other since using Domino’s Chat. And if someone asks for help on the employee app, other employees tend to jump in and support with best practices – that’s really great to see and just a more efficient way to work. We also have much higher webinar attendance since using Domino’s Chat to announce the sessions. And when our seminars are over, we’re able to post about them on the app and share the success stories of frontline employees. I can see a general increase in excitement about the brand, and see frontline employees invest their own time to go to our culture classes. Also, the usage of and engagement on our e-learning platform is much higher since we implemented Domino’s Chat. By making sure frontline employees are engaged, I’m able to succeed in my job.