Sunday’s Demand Spike for Pizza
I started reading this with great interest, expecting to read about the operations side of a pizza delivery business. It also made me think back to the folks at “Super Fast Pizza“, the company that bakes the pizza WHILE they are driving to you, with a 15-minute delivery time (now that's lean).
Anyway, interesting article, although much of it focused on Domino's, which is about my least favorite “pizza.” I understand why half the pizza market is still owned by local pizza shops, according to the article.
So, getting beyond the quality of the product, a few logistics details about Super Bowl Sunday.
Demand Spikes: a lot of Domino's stores sell 50% to 100% more pizzas than they would on a normal Sunday — some end up selling four times as many. A local chain will “have 40 delivery drivers on duty, about 15 more than usual.”
I'm surprised the demand spike isn't worse than that. It seems like you could design a system that was flexible to that degree. While TV's are typically banned from the stores, some Domino's will put TV's in to help anticpate the mini demand spikes during the day (commercials and halftime). That's a clever way of anticipating demand and it probably helps cut absenteeism that day.
Division of Labor / Standard Work: “To keep up with the volume of orders, which some store owners say can exceed 200 pizzas an hour during the Super Bowl, Domino's employees each are assigned an unusually narrow task: Some do nothing but put order slips on the pizza boxes. For others, the sole job is to keep drivers well stocked with small bills. The best pizza cutters slice pizza, while the most logistically inclined are put in charge of matching orders with drivers in the most efficient way possible.”
This sounds like a typical mass production / Frederick Taylor approach to the higher volumes, to divide the work into smaller and smaller (and easier to learn) increments and tasks. Narrow is good in that mindset.
Lean guys might approach this problem by going after cross training and having one person follow an order from start to finish (with maybe the exception of delivery, that could be a specialist). Or, at the least, you might have people cross trained to do more than just a limited task, it might depend on how the different tasks balanced out, time wise. I wonder if a pizza shop with a cellular layout and team structure would beat the performance of a Domino's with this extreme division of labor and the batch-and-queue mentality that problem comes with it?
Then again, if employees in the pizza biz are mostly short-term, maybe you have to go with the extreme division of labor. But, my gut tells me they could do better with a lean approach. My gut also tells me to order “good” pizza, regardless of the production system that's behind it!
One other thought just hit me before I clicked “publish”. The major chains (Pizza Hut, Domino's, Little Caeser's) remind me of GM and Ford… pushing mediocre product on people by focusing on discounts, coupons, and promotions!