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Cloud VoIP, Analytics Deliver for Domino's Franchisee

Domino's has pizza down to a science: two minutes to take an order, one to two minutes to make a pizza, seven to eight minutes to cook a pie, 30 minutes to your door in 80 to 90% of deliveries. Now one major franchisee is bringing the same level of attention to the call-handling process.

portable The franchisee, MAR Pizza Group, operates 70 stores in Southern California, the Chicago area, and in South Carolina. Early last year, the company began using a hybrid cloud-based communications service from Unified Office, a managed services provider founded by industry veteran Ray Pasquale, who I caught up with for a on-on-one interview at last month's Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando.

Unified Office's cloud platform, Total Connect Now, brings together voice communications, service-level monitoring, and business analytics tools in a single package. It relies on open-source software; a purpose-built, cloud-connected architecture; and virtualization, said Pasquale, who is Unified Office's CEO.

In founding Unified Office, Pasquale told me he "took a page from Steve Jobs," who reinvented the MP3 business with the iPod. "I'm going to reinvent telecommunications," he said, adding that the goal is to help small and medium-sized businesses like fast-food franchisees better manage operations.

In a separate conversation with MAR Pizza CIO Robert Scheiper, I learned that the Domino's franchisee began using the Total Connect Now cloud-based VoIP platform in early 2014 at a location in Carson, Calif. Today, it has upgraded from legacy PBXs at seven locations, with six more migrations to Total Connect Now currently in the works, said Scheiper, who also is a MAR Pizza co-owner.

Of particular value to MAR Pizza has been the reporting and analytics provided via the Visual Performance Suite that comes along with Total Connect Now, Scheiper said. "We use metrics to measure success with the pizzas, so we felt it made sense to use them to look at the way we answer phones, too."

Today Scheiper said he can walk into any of the Domino's using Total Connect Now and be greeted by a digital wallboard showing him (and store managers, of course) call-handling performance. The wallboard includes a speaker, so it can issue voice alerts reminding employees when calls are on hold or that, say, a Spanish-speaking customer needs assistance on a line. "It's like an in-store coach, keeping customer service reps answering the phones and giving managers one less thing to do," Scheiper said.

MAR Pizza also relies on a series of "speedometers" for an at-a-glance look at a store's call responsiveness over time. These indicators show how satisfactorily (or not) a store is doing on the current day, as well as how it performed the day prior, the last seven days, and the last 28 days, Scheiper said.

Now that it's able to measure call responsiveness, MAR Pizza has the data showing the business benefit of moving to cloud communications, Scheiper said. At those Domino's, for example, it consistently sees call volume in the range of 10 to 12% higher than other stores in the area.

MAR Pizza even saw the number of orders increase at one of its highest volume stores in Los Angeles. This Domino's had historically trended higher over other stores in the vicinity, so everybody was already happy with performance and hadn't expected much improvement in migrating off its legacy phone system. But since moving to Total Connect Now, that Domino's store has seen a 20 to 30% uptick in call volume. It was exciting to see a store that already performed so well do significantly even better once off the legacy phone system, he said.

"This really exposed that we could improve how we were handling phone calls," Scheiper said. With that proof positive, MAR Pizza needed no convincing to migrate to the Unified Office cloud platform wherever and whenever possible. Of course, with 70 stores, that won't happen overnight, Scheiper said. Rollouts will happen as service agreements on its legacy gear expire -- or sooner in the event of unforeseen system crashes, as was the case not so long ago at a Domino's that the franchisee had just acquired, he added. Scheiper expects a lot of migration activity coming up this summer and beyond, with more than 25 contracts set to expire.

Unified Office's Pasquale told me the company has "stumbled into a niche" with quick-serve restaurants.

Other Domino's franchisees are definitely watching MAR Pizza's success with the cloud platform and beginning to plot their own strategies, Scheiper said. "We're like a frat -- we all help each other out. If someone finds a better way to make a pizza or market to our customers, we share."

And everybody "is in the same boat," he added, when it comes to dealing with aging phone systems.

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