On Technology and the Pizza Industry

Left: screen shot of the Marco's Pizza online order and delivery module

Yesterday evening I was the only human in the house, and I decided to splurge and order a pizza to be delivered. Given the fact this was a Friday in Lent, I acted as an observant Catholic and ordered a veggie pizza from Marco's Pizza here in Toledo.

I also took advantage for the first time of the company's online ordering system, which allows customers to enter all the information for their orders. The system also has an interesting function that provides a real-time overview of the status of the customer's order, and I amused myself by obsessively checking the elapsed time and the stage at which the order was in ("Ordered," "Making," "Driving," or "Delivered").

For those of you unfamiliar with me, I was in the pizza business for about 25 years before transitioning to a new career in academia. For most of the decade of the 1990s I was a franchisee for Little Caesars Pizza, and I know enough about the pizza industry to fill a book.

A task, by the way, I might one day pursue, but I digress.

I was something of a technological renegade as a business owner, and I joined a small group of franchisees who understood how technology could revolutionize the business. We worked with a software developer to design the first store-level computer system, which offered order entry, inventory control, timeclock functions, and customer database. Unfortunately, we also incurred the ill will of our franchisor, and my support of this and other "unofficial" corporate tools put me in a negative light with the Little Caesars corporate types. Eventually when out financial position took a turn for the worse the franchisor smelled blood in the water and made us unpalatable offers we couldn't refuse, but this is how the business world works, kiddies.

Getting back to Marco's Pizza, I liked the way the system allowed me to provide specific delivery details for my house, which has an address on one street but faces a cross street. Delivery personnel always struggle to find the place, and last night the pleasant young woman who delivered my pizza showed up with a piping hot circle of deliciousness in 24 minutes.

Not too shabby, and yes: the tip reflected my status as a satisfied customer.

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