Friday, April 23, 2010

How long to revise a menu?

How much time should a chain need to develop new menu items? David Brandon, the outgoing CEO of Domino’s Pizza, disclosed this week how the pizza giant’s R&D expectations have changed dramatically as a result of a home-office reorientation.

When Brandon was recruited to remake the concept’s culture some 12 years ago, the lag time between idea and rollout typically ran 18 months. It was a prime example, he stressed, of the “analysis paralysis” that had cost the chain its alacrity during a time of significant change in the pizza market.

“By the time we had something ready, our competition had often beaten us to market,” he explained at the Restaurant Leadership Conference earlier this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Brandon, who recently vacated Domino’s corner office to become athletic director at the University of Michigan, took a pizza cutter to the bureaucracy and inertia. He also overhauled much of the management team, apparently to make the whole operation more responsive to shifts in consumer preferences.

Today, says Brandon, the chain’s R&D operations can have a product on the menu no longer than 90 days after the notion was floated.

Brandon just surrendered the CEO’s title to Patrick Doyle, his longtime lieutenant. He remains Domino’s chairman of the board.

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