Two managers of a Domino’s Pizza franchise in Lake City, Fla., have been arrested on charges that they set fire to a nearby Papa John's. Domino's was quick to release a statement as reports trickled out that the alleged arsonists were, in fact, Domino’s employees.
“We are as shocked as anyone. This incident is the result of individuals acting independently,” said Domino’s corporate spokesman Tim McIntyre. “Domino’s Pizza has nothing but the greatest respect for the Papa John’s brand.”
By absolving itself of any corporate responsibility for the incident and paying respect to its competitor, has Domino’s done enough? Is there another message it is missing?
There is an opportunity for the company to turn this piece of negative attention into something positive. Since 2010, Domino’s has shown a willingness to acknowledge its own mistakes and work toward improving the company’s relations with stakeholders. Using social media, the company has gone out of its way to appease dissatisfied customers. For example, after a customer posted a picture of a poorly delivered pizza, CEO Patrick Doyle starred in an ad campaign telling the customer that the company will fix the situation—and then hand-delivered a new pizza with $500 in gift cards to that customer.
The company could follow a similar hands-on approach in regard to the Papa John's incident. While it has already condemned the actions of these two individuals, Domino’s can also issue an apology to those who might have been affected by the fire—such as Papa John’s licensee Jacob Wilkes and employees who worked at the chain—and develop better recruitment and employment practices. In fact, as Wilkes has plans to rebuild the restaurant, maybe Domino’s can contribute to the rebuilding process in some way.