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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Thomas Monaghan | author
Oct 01, 2008
Filed under Chairman

The power of focus

Vince Lombardi used to tell his rookie players that he wanted them to focus on only three things: God, family and the Green Bay Packers. Nothing else. I picked up on that in the early years of Domino’s Pizza. I told our people it is God, family and Domino’s.

Our best years were the ’80s. In fact, during that time we were the fastest growing restaurant chain in history. We went from 300 to 5,000 stores in 10 years with a record 954 store openings in 1985.

The main reason for this tremendous growth was a fanatical focus. We had only pizza and Coke in our stores, only two sizes of pizzas, and we only offered 12 oz. cans of Coke. Nothing else. Our hours were short. We were only open from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

With this focus, we had some of the busiest pizzerias in the country — without sit-down, without long hours and with a very limited menu.

But the key was we “handled the rush” — those 20% of the hours when we got 80% of our business. Because we stayed focused and handled this peak time, people got what they wanted: fast delivery.

Many franchisees complained that I was limiting their potential by restricting their operations. Over time, for various reasons (including lots of pressure from franchisees), we eased up on those restrictions, and sales went down … as well as profits.

I eventually had to rebuild the company. My strategy was to be more focused, and it worked. Some have said that Domino’s comeback in the ’90s was the greatest in the history of the restaurant industry.

I am trying to apply this same focus as Chancellor of Ave Maria University. We are attempting to offer only the most important majors and to do them extremely well. It is a lesson that I learned the hard way.

Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes by having a fanatical focus on God, family and your “core” business.


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