Maybe Selling Pizza is Easier

Thomas S. Mon­aghan found­ed Domi­no’s Piz­za and made a boat­load of mon­ey from that enter­prise. He used his mon­ey to found a brand new con­ser­v­a­tive Roman Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty, Ave Maria University.

Recent­ly, Mon­aghan stepped down from the posi­tion of CEO and hired Jim Towey has the school’s pres­i­dent.

This is of inter­est to me because I was a Domi­no’s Piz­za fran­chisee for sev­en years.

The arti­cle seems to indi­cate that Mon­aghan has been in charge of the uni­ver­si­ty and has man­aged it to the point that it is

sell­ing to young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies [an] edu­ca­tion­al prod­uct that we do not have suf­fi­cient rea­son to believe can be delivered

I guess deliv­er­ing piz­zas was eas­i­er. How­ev­er, if mem­o­ry serves (and it may well not), I was always under the impres­sion that Mon­aghan had the idea of only sell­ing piz­za and one soft drink from a delivery/​pickup only loca­tion (no in house seat­ing), but that the busi­ness made mon­ey because he brought in peo­ple who knew how to make mon­ey at it.

As a fran­chisee, I once attend­ed a day of meet­ings in Chica­go. Mon­aghan was the first speak­er of the day. He stressed the impor­tance of qual­i­ty and ser­vice, low menu prices, and not to cheap­en the prod­uct by dis­trib­ut­ing coupons. The rest of the speak­ers, save one, talked about the impor­tance of get­ting coupons out to the cus­tomer and the best ways to do that. I left think­ing that Mon­aghan was not all that in touch with the com­pa­ny he was run­ning. This was when Domi­no’s was still the unchal­lenged leader in deliv­ered piz­za and had visions of over­tak­ing Piz­za Hut for over­all piz­za sales.

The above linked arti­cle notes that

Mean­while, there are signs that Monaghan’s foun­da­tion, which funds the law school and the uni­ver­si­ty, is on the verge of run­ning out of mon­ey, in part because Mon­aghan bet his for­tune — and the future of his non­prof­its — on the now-crum­bling Flori­da real estate market.

So Mon­aghan had all his eggs in one bas­ket? The fran­chise agree­ment pre­vent­ed the fran­chisee from hav­ing inter­ests in any oth­er busi­ness (oth­er than pub­licly trad­ed stocks). Domi­no’s want­ed us to put all our ener­gies in our stores. I’m not sure I (and my stores) would not have ben­e­fit­ed from being able to invest in oth­er busi­ness­es. This prob­a­bly means noth­ing, but I find it amusing.

Final­ly, I was nev­er sure just how gen­uine Mon­aghan’s Catholic devo­tion was. I guess it is quite gen­uine. Giv­en that, I find it odd that the fran­chise agree­ment pro­hib­it­ed a fran­chisee from clos­ing the stores on East­er Sun­day. I did that any­way. When the Domi­no’s rep called me on it, I told him to sue me. I also point­ed out that I would be mail­ing lots of press releas­es point­ing out that all of the PR paint­ed Mon­aghan as a devout Catholic, but here he was pre­vent­ing stores from clos­ing on the most impor­tant Catholic holy day. The rep said “OK, OK. Just close.” and dropped the subject.

Of course, it is pos­si­ble that Mon­aghan had no idea his com­pa­ny was pro­hibit­ing stores from clos­ing on Easter.

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