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Leon Kaye headshot

Please, Please Pick Up Your Pizza, Says Domino’s

By Leon Kaye

Is it a labor shortage, or is the reality that workers are just tired of schlepping for low wages that often come with high levels of grief, not to mention the risk of exposure to the Omicron variant? Either way, the dearth of people who are willing to work within more difficult and unrewarding jobs is affecting sectors from recycling to, of course, restaurants and your local coffee shops. Some companies have responded with higher hourly pay and benefits, such as one D.C.-based pizza chain. While we’re trying to slice up the reasons, hear out Domino’s, which has come up with its own solution: If you’d like a pizza, the company says it will pay for you to come and pick it up yourself.

Actually, what Domino’s is proposing to its customers is a tad more nuanced. The company is turning the food delivery model on its head, as in offering to “tip” anyone craving one of its pizzas $3. For a 14-inch pepperoni or tossed Pacific vegetable pizza, that’s about a 15 percent savings on your next pizza hankering.

Here’s how this program, just announced today, will work. Customers who order a pizza from Domino’s online, such as through its app, and agree to fetch the order using their own wheels can score a $3 credit off their next order. The minimum order is $5 (before tax and er, gratuity), and as of press time Domino’s will go forward with this plan until May 22.

We can’t confirm if the following quote is a jab at politicians such as New York City Major Eric Adams, who recently caught flack for describing such jobs as food and delivery workers as “unskilled,” but here’s how Art D'Elia, Domino's executive president and chief marketing officer, summed up this deal:

"It takes skill to get pizza from a Domino's store to your door. As a reward, Domino's is giving a $3 tip to online carryout customers who take the time and energy out of their day to act as their own delivery drivers. After all, we think they deserve it."

Clearly, the move could help alleviate any stress on Domino’s outlets, which along with the wider food service sector are having their own challenges retaining workers. In fact, 3p checked its local Domino’s franchises, and at some locations carry-out was the only option available. Nevertheless, could this shift help the company attract and retain customers, who during an age of countless delivery services will gravitate to the restaurant chain offering the best deal? According to Jordan Valinsky of CNN Business, such companies really do not have a choice, and one of the biggest annual sporting events here in the U.S. offers a grim reminder.

“The promotion could help alleviate stress on its limited number of workers right before the Super Bowl, which is one of the company's biggest pizza sales days,” wrote Valinsky, adding that “the labor shortage has plagued Corporate America -- particularly companies that pay low wages. The percentage of Americans who are in the job market, either as workers or as active job seekers, is measured by the labor force participation rate.”

The labor force participation rate is still relatively low compared to its level before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In December 2021, the measure was just below 62 percent, and although it has clawed back about half of what was lost during the peak of the pandemic, it is still off when compared to the February 2020 rate, which was 63.3 percent (for big-picture context, the rate was almost two-thirds, or more than 66 percent, in 2007).

That single-digit percentage difference may not appear to be much of a gap, but that margin translates into millions of service sector job that are unfilled – leading to consternation amongst managers and consumers alike while workers figure they can hold out until they can nab the best possible job offer.

Image credit: Jordan Nix via Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye