Domino's Pizza Founder Tom Monaghan's Five Priorities for Success



In 1960, Tom Monaghan and his brother bought a pizza store in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tom would spend the next fifteen years taking two steps forward and one step back. He would come within days of going bankrupt. He even lost control of the business for a period of time. He learned some hard lessons which he talks about in his book, Pizza Tiger.

Below, are a few excerpts (some abbreviated) from his book:

I’ll never forget the meeting at the Ann Arbor President’s Club in 1980 at which members were asked to state the five-year goals of their organizations. I stood up and said mine was to make Domino’s Pizza a household word in America. Eyebrows shot up like window shades all around that room. I heard loud groans of protest and a few snickers. I couldn’t blame the members for being skeptical. Most of them knew that Domino’s, with 290 stores, was pretty small change in the franchising field. And several in the group were aware of the massive business problems I’d had in the past. A few also knew that we had just lost a lawsuit brought by Amstar Corporation to protect its Domino Sugar trademark. Even though we were appealing the decision, it seemed certain that we were going to have to pour a lot of money into changing our company’s name and that a confusion of corporate identity and consequent loss of revenue undoubtedly would follow.

After the meeting, one of the members came up to me and said, “A household name, eh? You’ve got to be kidding, Monaghan.”

“No,” I replied. “I’m not kidding. We’re going to continue growing at a rate of forty to fifty percent a year, just as we are now. That means we’ll have at least two thousand stores by 1985, and we’ll be a truly national company with nationwide recognition.”

We did maintain that rate of growth during the next five years. Furthermore, we exceeded our projections for new stores, and our per-unit sales volume grew every year. Our profits have been growing faster than our sales, and an independent survey showed that in 1985 fully 90 percent of the people in the United States recognized the name Domino’s Pizza.

Domino’s was built on the relentless focus on 30-minute delivery times. By the end of 1985, Dominos had 2,600 stores located in all fifty states and six foreign countries. Dominos was moving up the ranks quickly. The top 10 pizza franchises by sales for 1985, in millions of dollars. Companies with delivery programs are highlighted.

Franchise Sales

1. Pizza Hut $2,150

2. Domino's $1,080

3. Little Caesars $340

4. Godfather's Pizza $265

The management techniques I applied in building the company were developed mostly by trial and error. But all of them were based on a homemade philosophy I call my five personal priorities. I first came up with this list during a voyage from the Philippines to Japan while was in the Marine Corps.
  1. Spiritual: My background makes concern about spiritual matters as natural to me as breathing. I grew up in a Catholic orphanage, and for a short time attended a seminary, with every intention on becoming a priest. My religious faith is strong. I know I can never be a success on this earth unless I am on good terms with God. My spiritual priority is expressed in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have other do unto you.
  2. Social: A loving wife and family are, to me, essential for a happy and productive life. My wife, Margie, was in my corner through all those tough battles of the early years in Domino’s. To say I couldn’t have succeeded without her would be a tremendous understatement. After family on my scale of social relationships come friends. Nobody can succeed in business without the help of friends. Community involvement is another important part of my social priority. I believe a business has a social obligation to participate in programs to help the community that supports it.
  3. Mental: The key factor in maintaining a healthy mind is a clear conscience. This means you have done your best to live up to your own expectations. A clear conscience fosters self-esteem, a positive attitude, and an optimistic outlook, all of which promote success in business. I believe the mind needs exercise, that it will grow in capacity and thinking ability if it is forced to by constant questioning and the desire for new information.
  4. Physical: It may sound corny, but I subscribe to the idea that the body is the temple to the soul. As a living edifice, it needs proper fuel and good maintenance. If I lost my health I’d give every penny I had to get it back, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t. Six days a week, I do forty-five minutes of floor exercises including 150 consecutive pushups, followed by a six-and-a-third-mile run. People magazine has called me a “fitness freak.” But I don’t think I’m fanatical about fitness; I’ve made my routine a habit now and I don’t want to break it.
  5. Financial: The financial priority is last on my list, because it arises from the others. I know that if I attend to the first four properly, financial success will follow as surely as day follows night.


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