A Virtual Coach Helps Dominos Franchise Owners Create a Winning Store Culture

How can a winning store culture translate into cost savings and higher sales for QSR franchise owners and operators?  The answer is by coaching your staff to perform at a high level of effectiveness and efficiency while avoiding the high cost of turnover.

According to recent research from the National Restaurant Association, recruitment and retention are among the top challenges facing restaurant owners – even greater than the rising cost of food. In recent years, Dominos has successfully reduced its turnover rate from 156% to 107%. This is a sizable reduction indeed, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average turnover rate for the hospitality industry of 72% during 2015.

Dominos estimates the cost of retraining an hourly employee at $2,500 and to retrain a store manager the cost can be as much as $20,000. When it comes to revenue impact, studies performed by restaurant industry research firm TDn2K, show that companies with lower turnover consistently perform better in terms of same-store sales and traffic. Separate studies for tracking social media rankings and mentions for the restaurant industry are revealing a shift in consumer sentiment. The importance of food is becoming less important than the role of service when impacting the customer’s intent to return.

Picture1Given the fast pace and long hours that are a fact of life in the QSR industry, it can be especially hard to find, cultivate and retain the right employees. However, several Dominos franchise operators have found the key to retaining a motivated and productive team is by creating a winning store culture that exhibits a customer-first attitude. That requires effective training for new employees and continuous coaching for the staff in all aspects of customer engagement – both in the store and over the phone.

Online orders via websites and mobile apps have greatly enhanced the speed and simplicity of placing orders, but they have also de-personalized the customer experience. Because telephone orders still represent about 50% of the business placed with most Dominos franchise owners, it’s important to view this form of interaction with the customer as an opportunity to raise the bar for customer service in a way that translates to all aspects of the business.

A new approach (supported with new patented technology) is available for managing the telephone ordering process and many Dominos franchise owners are now implementing a QSR-optimized communications service from Unified Office and realizing immediate impact on their businesses.  Unified Office has developed the concept of a “virtual coach” for restaurant staff as a part of a managed voice communications service that streamlines the telephone ordering process. It incorporates a software-driven digital “wallboard” that serves as a constant presence in the store announcing incoming calls, queuing and routing them to available stations during busy hours, measuring the time-to-service and reminding the staff about the status of callers on-hold with color-coded dashboard gauges and audible messages.

Chris Courtemanche, VP of Operations at Dufficy Enterprises operates 16 stores throughout New England and brings 20 years of experience with Dominos to the company. When his firm implemented the service, they saw an increase in sales from the very first day. After the service was provisioned and activated, Unified Office worked closely with Dufficy to configure the wallboard for their environment. Based on experience gained from other Dominos franchises, customer service levels were defined for time-to-answer, time-to-service, calls on-hold and other metrics for measuring customer service levels and responsiveness.
Picture2As the team processes orders, the wallboard (see below) provides a real-time dashboard display with red, yellow and green gauges that show how well they are performing relative to these service level targets.

The team carries a shared goal of keeping service levels “in the green”, so that customers always have a positive experience when placing their orders. If service levels drift into a yellow or red zone, the team is instantly made aware and notifications are sent to the manager and/or owner of the store. This approach helps Dominos stores to continuously improve their customer experience.  These service levels are also displayed in the Managers Portal and allow owners of a multi-store operation to compare service levels between stores and the impact on sales across the business. That creates a spirit of healthy competition between the teams that staff each of the individual stores.

There are many ways in which the Unified Office communications service helps to create a winning store culture. They can be summarized in a simple two-step process.

Listen, Coach and Train Your Staff

Start by listening to how your team members interact with customers. Make sure they are pleasant, helpful and know how to handle customer problems and deal with difficult callers. Unified Office allows store managers or other coaches to listen in silently and offer real-time “whisper” coaching to employees as they interact with customers. This is an effective way to train new employees under real-world conditions. The wallboard can also be used as a platform for video-based training for new hire orientation and understanding new products or promotions.

All customer calls are recorded so managers can review and improve the way staff members interact with customers. Recorded calls can also be used to showcase the best way to help customers make the right meal choices or look for opportunities to increase total order value. Once they are fully trained on the right way to serve the customer, team members can be managed to process calls more quickly and effectively so that phones are answered within two rings and the average time-to-service is under two minutes.

Translate Training into Performance

Training and service level targets are a great beginning, but consistent performance from the store staff requires accountability at the store level. It all starts with a store manager who is committed to using the virtual coach and its dashboard metrics as a tool for creating a winning store culture. The Unified Office service provides real-time metrics that facilitate the ability to manage “in the moment” as well as historical reports that identify long-term trends. Information gleaned from these reports can lead to better decision-making around staffing levels and determining which team members need additional training to improve performance.

Real-time and historical data are both essential tools that help the store manager translate staff training into superior performance. It also makes the conversation between the owner/operator and the store manager an easier one: “How are we going to get these numbers where we want them to be?” Some franchise owners also use the metrics tracked by the service to provide an incentive bonus for managers that consistently meet their service level targets.

A Winning Culture Checklist

Creating a winning store culture is a process that starts with training and is sustained by managing performance with metrics that set a high standard for customer service. Constant coaching is needed to ensure continuous improvement. The following checklist summarizes the key elements of the process.

  • Listen, coach and train every member of the staff
  • Teach them how to deliver great customer service
  • Show them how to resolve problems professionally
  • Expect them to answer the phones within 2 rings
  • Ensure they process orders quickly & efficiently
  • Use the wallboard as a virtual coach in the store
  • Monitor performance with real-time metrics
  • Trigger alerts when service levels are dropping
  • Create accountability for the team at the store level
  • Work with the store manager to hit service level targets, is key
  • Grade performance daily & weekly to ensure improvement
  • Use historical reports to identify trends and manage resources
  • Create a culture of healthy competition between stores


With the right tools and technologies, QSR franchise owners can reverse the trend in turnover as they translate superior service into sales growth for the business. Learn more about how Unified Office helped Chris Courtemanche, VP of Operations at Dufficy Enterprises to create a winning store culture (and increase revenue) for his Dominos franchise operation.

Unified Office created a 3-part video series to educate franchise owners about this new voice communications technology and how other owners have utilized the service to grow their business, drive operational efficiency and create a winning store culture.

If you’d like to view the video series, CLICK HERE

You can also request a demonstration and a quick assessment of how Unified Office can help your franchise to build a winning store culture. During this demonstration, you will see the service in action and learn how your franchise operation can improve in ways that will immediately translate into higher sales and greater profitability.

Request A Live Demo!