Let Domino’s Take the Fall

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Public Relations

By Jenny Brooks

I’m going to assume you’ve heard and/or seen something about the Domino’s flap over two employees who made an egregious mistake “pretending” to contaminate the food they were preparing for customers. If you haven’t, conduct a quick Google search to catch up or click here to watch the president’s apology video.

The reason I wanted to post something here is that as an independent restaurant owner, you don’t have the deep pockets that Domino’s has that will allow them to ride out this crisis. Take the opportunity to watch and learn from a company going through a business crisis. Because make no mistake, that’s exactly what this is, a crisis for Domino’s. If something like this happened in your restaurant, are you ready, would you be able to survive?

I think most of us trust that our food preparers are generally sanitary and respect the food preparation process. And most of us will consider what those kids did as a joke. But I’m sure it’s made a lot of people hesitate before they call Domino’s this week. Domino’s will take a hit, but they’ll recover. They have the means to ride it out.

It’s too bad, though, because this incident will go with them for the rest of their business days. I know this will be a PR case study for years to come.

But take this as a great opportunity to watch and learn. There is a lesson in this for you, whether you serve pizza or escargot.

Here are the things I want you to think about:
1. How do your employees look? Are they dressed well and look clean? Do you have a dress code in place that you can enforce? Do they wash their uniforms and aprons? What message are they sending about the sanitary conditions of your restaurant. Don’t give your customers any reason to doubt you.

2. Do your employees respect what they’re doing for customers and their role in your business? Do they realize what they can do to your business with so-called pranks?

3. Do you have a plan for responding in these types of crisis – or any crisis? If this happened at your restaurant, what would you do and how would you handle it?

4. What is your opinion of how Domino’s handled (is handling) this episode and what would you like to hear as a consumer? Consider these questions and then apply the answers to your own operation.

5. Do you have policies about taking video in your restaurant? Use of texting and photos?

6. Can you take advantage of this public embarassment of Domino’s and use it to tout your restaurant in any way?

Remember, everything that happens in the restaurant industry is an opportunity for you to learn and improve your restaurant. If you don’t have a good reputation, what do you have? Domino’s is working very hard right now to repair their reputation and try to make this incident just a “blip” in the grand scheme of things. Learn from their mistakes.

Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her.

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