Pizza companies, like all fast-food favorites, come and go over the years, defined by waning sales, changing appetites and sometimes, contentious politics.
Take for example Papa John’s, which is now in a fight for its life after plummeting sales and board-room battles have nibbled away at its global revenue. The fact that squabbles between the owner and board can continue to define the future of franchise growth and success is a powerful statement about how much customers truly invest in their favorite brands.
But the same can be said for America's second-largest pizza chain, Domino’s Pizza, which recently made national news when it took an entirely different tack on the issue of company investment and engagement.
Earlier this year, the Delaware town of Milford became the test baby for Domino’s new line of business. No, it isn’t a new take on the pizza pie. It’s potholes.
The company that brought us bread twists has recognized that customers are a lot happier when they know the brands they support invest in their communities as well.
As the UK-based organization, Reason Digital noted in 2017, “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an issue that companies can no longer ignore.” The study goes on to note that “studies by Sankar and Bhattacharya in 2001 found that positive CSR is seen as contributing to a consumer’s positive self image.”
Companies like Deloitte have underscored the importance of public-private partnerships for years, driving initiatives that have helped reenergize education programs across the globe and at the same time, enlightened students in the value of participating in local communities.
In this case, there’s something smartly symbolic in fixing the roads that lead customers to and from your door – especially if the potholes you’re fixing are ones you could legally, well, ignore.
Customers can nominate their community to have the holes fixed. Domino’s then allocates up to $5,000 to get those irritating holes patched through public-private partnership with the local city or town.
So far, crews have visited communities in California, Texas and Georgia. There's no statistics yet to indicate whether Domino's CSR initiative has boosted sales, or spearheaded more public funds toward city infrastructure improvements for that matter.
There are questions, though, as to whether public-private partnerships that take some of the load off of governments always help. Will company-trained crews that don't have the expertise in road construction be able to ensure the holes are filled to the same caliber as city- or county-paid contractors? How far will $5,000 go to ensuring the integrity of streets that have been battered by exceptional weather conditions or increasing traffic as small communities grow? And who organizes and pays for the upgrades to that work the next time around?
Still, in a time of shrinking local budgets and a growing focus on the nation's crumbling infrastructure, it's noteworthy when a company is willing to step up and support local communities. And as Domino's has no doubt found, it's often the unique "think-out-of-the box" initiatives that can be the most successful in reinforcing connection with loyal customers.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.