Undercover Analysis | Episode #2: Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard (2024)

Pizza Pizza chief Paul Goddard got a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations workers in his company face. But will he do enough to pre-empt problems before they occur? Our experts wade in on the debate.

Author of the article:

Financial Post Staff

Published Feb 10, 20126 minute read

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Undercover Analysis | Episode #2: Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard (1)

Undercover Analysis is a 10-part series offering insight on the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of Canada’s Undercover Bosses. Tune in to the W Network each Thursday at 9 p.m ET to catch Canada’s CEOs as they go incognito within their own organizations to discover the truth from the bottom-up.

The Synopsis

Undercover Analysis | Episode #2: Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard (2)

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When Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard took over the business from company found and father-in-law Michael Overs, he came armed with ambition, education and experience – in the oil industry. To learn the pizza business from the inside out, Goddard goes undercover to work with front-line staff, including a dough factory worker, a franchisee, a pizza-delivery driver, and tractor-trailer operator.

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The experience helped him see some of the inadequacies of his operation and the realities that the rank and file face, and prompt him to implement some initiatives to benefit employees. The question is: Will it be effective and, if not, what other strategies could he implement? Our experts offer some perspective.

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The Analysis

Undercover Analysis | Episode #2: Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard (24)By Marty Parker

He’s only been the CEO of Pizza Pizza since 2009, but Paul Goddard has already learned a key lesson that many more experienced CEOs never learn: stay close to the business and you will never be far from profitability.

Goddard, owner/operator of Pizza Pizza (and son-in-law of company founder Michael Overs), suggests to his executive team that he needs to get closer to the business by getting out on the front lines. After a few days spent doing exactly that — working in a franchise store, delivering pizza to customers, making pizza dough and working on a truck that delivers supplies to the stores — Goddard wisely suggests to his executives that they need to find ways to get more leaders into the field on a regular basis. Goddard realizes that a better understanding of the business leads to process improvements and cost reductions.

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Another realization: that a key behavioural criteria for pizza delivery drivers is grace under pressure. He makes this discovery when spending time with Ayad, a driver who is unflappable when delivering food to hungry, impatient customers, even in the face of difficult circ*mstances. That said, Goddard may have missed a chance here to incorporate a hiring for fit criteria, which would ensure that this behaviour is solidly integrated into franchise training policies for recruiting drivers.

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Goddard also misses something that seems obvious to the viewer: that employees in labour-intensive roles — such as working in the dough plant and delivering heavy food and supplies to the stores — complain of health problems, like sore backs. At the end of the episode, Goddard implements a policy to give all plant employees up to four massages per year, paid for by the corporation. But as thoughtful as this initiative is, it may simply be a band-aid solution to a much larger problem: lost days to illness or injury. Goddard may want to consider asking his head of operations, distribution and logistics to make changes to workflow or to implement cost-effective technology which could help reduce lost days to injury or illness — one of the most common unplanned costs in business today.

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Goddard is wise to spend time in all areas that touch the business. In doing so, he gets a comprehensive look at the organization — which has a specific set of challenges stemming from its franchise model. In a franchise environment, leaders must work with both corporate employees and those of their franchise partners. It’s an environment of partnership, where any of Goddard’s initiatives must be accomplished through collaboration with franchisees. In other words, franchisees need to be sold on ideas, innovations or improvements from the leaders of their franchisor, not just told about them. Goddard clearly recognizes that he is working with entrepreneurs and owner/operators just like his father-in-law.

Goddard recognizes that employees are more than the outcomes they create; they are people with hopes and dreams that sometime fall outside their current career. As such, he encourages dough-factory employee Susan to follow her dream of studying holistic medicine, encouraging her both with an education grant and, just as importantly, with his words. This is the kind of leader who develops “followership,” as employees quickly realize that he doesn’t just value their time and expertise, but he values them as people, and he is prepared to support them as they follow their passions.

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By ensuring that his team and Pizza Pizza management get out of their offices and spend more time on the front lines, Goddard will be able to make changes that improve operations and save money. His approachability, sympathetic personality and commitment to process improvements will continue to help Pizza Pizza maintain its leadership position in the quick-service restaurant market.

Marty Parker is president and CEO of executive search firmWaterstone Human Capital and author of Culture Connection, a guide to developing a successful corporate culture.

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Undercover Analysis | Episode #2: Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard (46)By Kendra Reddy

Paul Goddard’s objectives for going undercover were to see if Pizza Pizza was living up to industry and company standards, and to “find out what he doesn’t know”. He wanted a front-line perspective so that he could look for ways to improve business and people procedures in order to safeguard and maximize sales in a highly competitive marketplace.

Having worked his way up through the ranks, Paul (aka “Gavin”) was eager to roll up his sleeves and bend at the knees, seeming to have a genuine concern and appreciation for the people working at ground level. I agree with him that the best way to get to know something is to experience it up close and personally, and appreciate his commitment to focusing on the nuances of the shop floor as much as the nuances of the boardroom.

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In an industry where speed and quality are equally vital to the success of the business, Pizza Pizza appears to have invested heavily in ensuring there are resources and procedures in place to make sure that neither is compromised. But at what cost?

On his first assignment, employee Susan shared that there was an issue with assembly line workers suffering back problems from standing on concrete for long periods of time. Layer on the physically demanding work that Sarah (franchise owner/operator), Ayad (delivery person), and especially Don (delivery truck operator), do on a daily basis, and suddenly employee health and wellness becomes a very big concern.

If employees are taking time off to deal with pain and injuries caused by the everyday functions of their jobs, it will not only cost the company money in sick-leave pay and lost productivity, but could lead to employee attrition, dissatisfaction, and more. While Paul did offer Susan and her team four therapeutic massages annually, I’d encourage him to look closely at the company’s benefits plan and find ways to tailor it more specifically to employee needs.

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The Pizza Pizza business model includes quite a few contract employees. Both Ayad and Don are independent workers, and I’d venture a guess that with 90% of business coming from phone-in orders, call centre operations are outsourced as well. While this business model can be very effective, it also presents some unique challenges, especially in a company that relies on top-notch customer service for its success. Organizations fail at using this model when they segregate contract or associate employees.

If independent contractors are expected to wear the Pizza Pizza ‘team jersey’ when they’re out there, then they need to truly feel as though they are a part of the team and receive the same attention as permanent staff. It didn’t appear as though this was an issue for Paul, and I hope he continues to pay special attention to these people. In general, they are entrepreneurial spirits who are proactive and usually full of great ideas on improvement. If he is able to find ways to help workers see how their job impacts their colleagues’ jobs, (and perhaps even provide opportunities for them to experience parts of other roles), he can strengthen and build on what looks like an already engaged workforce.

Kendra Reddy is a leadership coach and talent consultant at Blueprint Strategies, and writes regularly for the Financial Post on human resource-related topics.

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