‘Soda bombs’ and ‘pizza security’: The lessons of making a car for Domino’s

Not really, at the least. If you wish to make money, give attention to the driver.

Local Motors is an automotive company that focuses on collaborative and crowdsourced design, so De Peyer tapped its online community of auto enthusiasts for some ideas. He befriended pizza drivers at his local Domino’s. He visited car dealerships with pizza-carrying bags, to see how well they fit in numerous vehicles. He learned that some pizza delivery drivers didn’t want a franchise-owned car, because they’d be reimbursed for wear-and-tear on their own vehicles, resulting in a larger paycheck.

It was not just a concern of designing the ultimate pizza delivery vehicle. He had to make the drivers want to supply pizzas inside it, and not only because the car looked cool.

De Peyer quickly realized that the easiest method to help everybody involved — the client, the driver, Domino’s, the franchise owner — was to hyperfocus on the driver.

“If we could help a driver shave at least 30 seconds off each delivery, that would equate to an extra $3-5k a year,” de Peyer wrote this week on Twitter. Less time spent on each delivery meant more deliveries and thus more pizzas per shift, enabling faster deliveries for the customer while boosting income for everyone on the business side.
Ultimately, Domino’s (DMPZF) and de Peyer opted to retrofit a preexisting vehicle instead of taking on the costly task of building a new vehicle from scratch, They chose the Chevy Spark because of its size, warranty, price and fuel economy, de Peyer said.

The upgrade proceeded with the input of car enthusiasts in a lot more than 50 countries. They built an oven into the vehicle with an exterior door, for easy pizza loading and unloading, heated by leading passsenger seat warmer, that has been stripped out. Instead of a 2nd seat, the car had a custom-built tray that held the pizzas, side dishes and drinks.

He’d learned from drivers that it was tough to keep a two-liter bottle of non-alcoholic drink stationary in a typical car.

“If you’re a delivery driver and you hand a family two pies and a soda that’s shaken up, you’re basically handing them a soda bomb,” de Peyer said within an interview with CNN Business. “If they open the soda and it sprays on them, will they order from Domino’s again? And they may tip the driver less if they see them again.”

Initially, de Peyer and the online community believed the car needs to have a integrated GPS for navigation. But conversations with drivers unmasked they did not want that. Typing within an address took time. Drivers felt it had been better to learn the neighborhoods they worked in.

Then there was the matter of what de Peyser calls “pizza security.” Drivers hustling to make a delivery can not have pizzas sliding throughout their vehicle. Drivers never knew when someone may possibly cut them off or pull out, forcing them to slam on the brakes. That could ruin the pizza. So the pizza holders in the car were built to hold the boxes firmly in position.

A light was added on the exterior of the car near the driver’s door, to illuminate any puddles while entering and exiting the car.

In 2013, de Peyer sent the final product to Domino’s. Another company manufactured the vehicles, and 154 of the vehicles, now called the DXP (short for “delivery expert”), began to appear in 2015.

Since then, food delivery has exploded in popularity. Companies like DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates raised hundreds of millions of dollars. But cars still are not suited to food delivery, and even Domino’s has abandoned its quest for an ideal delivery vehicle. At least one lonely DXP has been within a junkyard.

For organizations and pizza franchises, it’s generally more cost-effective to let drivers buy and use their particular vehicles.

But the upsurge in demand for food delivery during the pandemic has made Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers think there’s still an untapped market for a customized food delivery vehicle.

“There are these really tectonic shifts,” Rogers said. “There’s a need for a vehicle that’s both clean, ready to deliver and able to let you know when something arrives. They’re needed so much, even more than before when Domino’s was maybe one of the only players out there.”