Do you like pizza?
Of course you do. Everyone likes pizza. It’s a big pile of gooey goodness that you can get delivered right to your door.
But have you ever wondered what it takes to get that pizza to you?
For two years during university, I worked a few nights a week answering the phones and sometimes making the food in the Domino’s down the road, and then spent part of a summer doing the same in New York City.
Me (bottom right) after heading straight from work to the club
This is what I learned.
1. The person taking your order can see your entire order history
When you give your number, we can see your last few orders, as well as notes from the previous people who have taken your order to warn us about the shit you’ve tried to pull.
2. After a while, you learn the menu by heart
You don’t learn it because you want to, but because you have to. After working at Domino’s for a few months, I could have told you the price of each individual thing and what was in it.
3. The website tracker is just an educated guess
If you order online, you get the option to track your order. You then get sent to a fancy-looking order tracker which shows you the stage that your food is at, from preparation to in the oven and eventually being delivered. Only, that’s not what’s actually happening. The tracker is just estimating these things based on average delivery time and has no connection to what’s actually happening in the shop.
4. The person on the phone doesn’t know where your food is either
When you call up to find out where your food is, unless you wait for the person to actually call your driver, they have no idea where your food is. There is no tracking system on drivers. They can tell you whether or not the food has left the store and how long ago that happened, but anything beyond that is just guesswork without calling the driver.
5. If you have a problem with your order, complain
Domino’s is a multi-national organisation that has some pretty healthy margins. If you’ve got an issue with your order, call up and complain about it. Be nice, but just mention that there’s not really much cheese on the pizza (or whatever the issue is) and you’d be surprised how many times you’ll end up with something free for next time.
6. The computer doesn’t automatically make things a meal deal
It might have changed since I stopped working there, but the computers didn’t automatically bundle stuff into a meal deal. Sp people who barked their order down the phone usually ended up paying for each item individually even if it fit into a meal deal, unless they specifically requested a certain meal deal.
7. Want free stuff? Be nice
For nice people, however, I would always try to go the extra mile. Sometimes this meant advising them to trigger a meal deal which would usual giving them more food for less money. Sometimes if we had extra stock of something, my manager would let me give it away for free to customers I liked.
8. Stuff is kept surprisingly clean
Every 30 minutes, an alarm would go off to remind everyone to wash their hands. There was a big emphasis on keeping everything neat an tidy.
9. Every single item of food had its own specific place
Whether it was in the fridge in the back or the pizza station in the front, you knew where everything was at all times. Every topping had its own little bucket and there are even different instruments for cutting vegetarian pizzas.
10. The dough arrives pre-measured
When you order an 11.5in pizza, I didn’t break off a piece of dough and figure it was about the right size. Every bit of dough has been measured out and put on a tray with similarly sized blobs of dough before I went anywhere near it.
11. Once you go over four toppings, portion sizes get smaller
There are three price brackets for toppings: one to two toppings, three to four toppings and five or more toppings. You might think that my getting nine toppings, you’re ripping Domino’s off but really you’re just playing yourself because once you go over four toppings, you’re actually getting less of every topping.
12. Four toppings is the ideal amount
When I said the portion sizes start getting smaller after the fourth topping, it’s not because Domino’s are being cheap. They’re actually looking out for you (and also being a little cheap) because once you get past four toppings, the pizza starts to become a gloopy mess.
13. Yes, there are A LOT of regulars
You’d be amazed at how many people order the exact same thing week-in week-out. For some families, Tuesday night is pizza night, for some students it was just a better option than cooking. We actually had a lot of old people come in regularly because it was a good value meal that they didn’t have to worry about cooking. These were the first to get any freebies I could give away.
14. Yes, you can be barred from Domino’s
On the other side of this, there were some people who we knew not to serve. I had a guy come into the shop and spit in my face once, while other people had been barred for making prank phone calls or trying to get away without paying for their order constantly.
15. Your prank phone call is super obvious
To my knowledge, I never fell for a prank call. You can tell pretty early if someone is pranking or not, and if you weren’t sure all you had to do was read their order back to them with some mistakes to see if they’d notice. If they gave a different number to the one they were calling off, I’d usually give the new number a ring to make sure.
16. There are still plenty of screw-ups
One of the Domino’s I worked in was in the top ten busiest in the world. Not the country, the world. That meant mistakes on both end were bound to happen. We’d always do our best to apologise and send a new meal and maybe add some credit to their account for the next time they ordered, depending on how pissed off they were.
17. But customers screw up too
The stores I worked at both served the biggest university in the country, and one of them stayed open until 5am. This meant that we made a lot of late-night deliveries to a lot of students who were not of sound mind. This led to a lot of people giving the wrong address, falling asleep before their delivery arrived or forgetting they ordered a pizza entirely.
18. Mistakes mean free food
Technically, if something was made by mistake, we were supposed to throw it out. But that was rarely enforced and so we just ate most of the surplus orders ourselves. It was a free meal during a sometimes long and tiring shift.
19. Employees get pretty great discounts
At the end of every shift, we’d get a personal (7.5in) pizza with up to four toppings for £1. Of course, if you were making it for yourself you could throw on a little extra. When you were ordering food outside of your shift, you’d get a 50% discount and this extended to other stores too if you could prove you worked for Domino’s – usually by having them call your store.
20. Sometimes “mistakes” happen on purpose
Remember when I said we got to eat stuff that was made by accident? Well, it wasn’t always by accident. It didn’t happen often, but sometimes we’d make an extra pizza if we wanted something to eat. It didn’t really work with side orders because an extra garlic pizza bread would quickly find a new home on an upcoming order.
21. Look after the drivers, and they’ll look after you
The whole two years I spent at Domino’s, they ran a promotion where you could get 50% off on your meal if you had a certain voucher. In those two years, I probably saw three of those vouchers. In my experience, the drivers rarely – if ever – asked for the vouchers which means that you could just quote the voucher on the phone even if you didn’t have one.
The drivers are paid a very small amount – around £4 an hour along with £1 or so for every delivery and a tip. So if you’re in a jam, just drop them a bigger tip (side note: tip your delivery person) and they’ll usually let you away with it. Just make sure you’re quoting offers that actually exist.
22. Roquito peppers are the most underrated topping
They just are. They’re sweet and spicy – what more could you want? It’s weird because everyone who works in Domino’s seems to eat them but none of the customers are aware they exist even though they’re right there on the menu.
23. The Italian style base and regular base are the same thing
Whether you order the regular base or the Italian style (used on gourmet pizzas), you’re getting the exact same dough. The only difference is the amount you are getting. A 11.5in Italian style pizza just uses the dough for a regular 9.5in pizza that’s stretched thinner.
24. The thin crust is pre-made
If you’ve ever wondered how Domino’s get the thin crust (yes, that’s different to the Italian style) so thin, well the secret is that it arrives in the store pre-made. It’s basically a giant tortilla that we take out of a plastic packet and then put toppings over.
25. The double decadence base is just two thin crusts
For those who have never had a double decadence pizza, it basically has some garlic and herb sauce between two layers of crust. How do we do it? Simple, we just put some sauce between two of the thin crusts I mentioned above.
26. Drinks were locked away from the staff
We were allowed to have a soft drink during our shift if we wanted to – so long as we paid for it. The cans were always in a vending machine in the back and cost 50p per can. That meant that every time a driver had to bring a can on a delivery, they had to spend 50p on a drink, which they would get back at the end of the night.
27. Wedges should be double cooked
The oven at Domino’s is basically a very hot and very slow conveyer belt. You put food in raw on one side, and it comes out cooked on the other. Except the wedges. If you want proper, crispy wedges then you have to run them through the oven twice.
28. There’s no secret menu – but there is some experimentation
Everything we are allowed to sell you is on the menu. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some extra things we can do for ourselves. My old manager used to mix the jalapeno brine into the tomato sauce for staff pizzas sometimes and it was fucking delicious. But because it’s not on the menu, we were never allowed to sell it to anyone in case it made you sick. Sorry.
29. Every store is different
Most of the stuff I said above holds true across Domino’s, but some stuff changes from store to store. Your best bet is to talk to the people who actually work there and find out what they can do for you. They might have some tips I’ve either forgotten or never learned in the first place.