Domino's Pizza just opened its 2,500th international restaurant, and those stores have achieved 39 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. That's a crowning achievement for American gastronomy, but it's also testament to Domino's careful balance of central control and local flexibility.
It's about theme and variation. Domino's knows precisely what makes a Domino's pizza a Domino's pizza. "The basics of crust, sauce, and cheese work everywhere," says Patrick Doyle, executive vice president of Domino's Pizza International. Recipes for those staples are the same worldwide. But Domino's also understands what makes a pizza Japanese, say, or Indian. That's why it makes more than 100 different pies globally. In India, there's paneer pizza. Domino's Japan offers mayo-jaga—potato, bacon, and mayonnaise, artfully arranged.
Master franchisees suggest variations (cr?me fra"che, anyone?) to suit local tastes. But the actual decisions are made by execs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ultimately, after all, it still has to taste like a Domino's pizza. More or less.
A version of this article appeared in the February 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.