Is the Dominos Pizza Tracker Real?

When we left the story, our hero was eating cold pizza and mourning over the realization that the Dominos Pizza Tracker was not real.  And now, the conclusion of the tale…

Apparently while I was looking out the window and hoping that my lunch would arrive, communications were being sent around the food chain within Dominos alerting the appropriate people to the brouhaha on Twitter about the allegedly fake Pizza Tracker.  In my resulting conversation with Tim McIntyre, Vice President of Communications for Domino’s Pizza LLC, this social media explosion around my missing pizza was ingeniously compared to a game of Whack-a-Mole.  Every time one fire was put out, another one would pop up, the Dominos Twitter account deluged with questions about the validity of the Pizza Tracker.  Who was to be believed: the man at my local store who said that the tracker was a fake and who got my food to me late enough to confirm that or the poor guy tweeting from @Dominos?  Thankfully, Tim graciously agreed to grant me an interview to get to the bottom of this mess and be able to answer definitively, “Is the Dominos Pizza Tracker Real?”

Dominos’ answer is yes, yes the Pizza Tracker is real.

How the Dominos Pizza Tracker Works

Tim made it very clear during our conversation that to Dominos, timing is everything.  For decades they have been known as the thirty minutes or less delivery people, and he stands by the fact that they deliver pizzas quickly because they are fast on their feet, not on the street.  He also explained that Dominos times everything in the pizza creation and delivery process.  The Pizza Tracker was designed to provide us with actual information about where our pizza is in this carefully timed process.  The claim?  That when used correctly, the Pizza Tracker is accurate to within a few seconds.

When an order comes in, it hits the computers in the stores, and the big computer screen at the front of the “make line” where the person is stretching dough displays the order information.  This person has logged into the computer with his or her name at the start of their shift, which is why the Pizza Tracker displays a name when you order your pizza.  Tim pointed out that Dominos does not condone the creation of fake names at this stage of the process.

Once your pizza has been assembled, it slides down the line to the pizza oven.  When it goes into the oven, a button is pressed.  The pressing of this actual, existing button updates the status on your actual, displayed Pizza Tracker.  Nothing else causes the tracker to update and alert you that your pizza is now in the oven.  The oven is a conveyor belt system that follows a standard time of between 5.5 and 6 minutes, so at the 6 minute mark, your tracker will automatically update to the next step.

At this point, the pizza comes out of the oven, it is checked and placed in a box, cut, and put on the rack for the next available delivery person.  When the delivery person grabs your order and puts it into the hot bag, they push a button updating your tracker to indicate that the pizza is on its way.  Because Dominos store areas are designed to deliver pizzas only within 9 minutes of the store in any direction, the tracker automatically updates to say that the pizza is delivered ten minutes after the button has been pressed.

Why Does the Tracker Sometimes Appear to Be Fake?

There are three variables that Tim at Dominos says contribute to the appearance that perhaps the Dominos Pizza Tracker is a marketing ploy or gimmick rather than an accurate tool for consumers to rack their orders.

1. Driver Difficulties: There is no way to change what the tracker says in terms of delivery time based on variables such as traffic, an accident, red lights, bad weather, etc.  Once the driver has left the store, the tracker will say that the pizza is delivered ten minutes later whether it has been or not.

2. Multiple Orders: Drivers are encouraged to take only a single order at a time and never more than two orders, but many of us know from phone calls to locate our missing pizzas that not every store follows this policy or is perhaps able to because of staffing on that particular day.

3. Human Error: Sometimes people press a button early or accidentally press someone else’s button and there is simply no way to go back into the system to prevent that error.

Why Does the Dominos Pizza Tracker Exist If Not as a Marketing Ploy?

If you’re still with me and didn’t leave this post two minutes ago to go order a pizza, then here is your reward.  I love this part of the story because I am a chronically impatient person.  Don’t believe me?  I knew when I was 15 weeks pregnant that I was having a boy…yeah.  Impatient.

Awhile back Dominos did some consumer research and found that ordering pizza is an emotional roller coaster.  There is a big high when the family decides to order pizza.  Mom and dad don’t have to cook!  Kids don’t have to eat their parents sub-par cooking!  Maybe it will be a movie night, too! Yay! Fun!  Then there is a huge crash after the pizza has been ordered.  Unlike the restaurant experience, no waiter is stopping by to refill your drink, hand you crayons and a coloring sheet, update you on your order status.  The Dominos Pizza Tracker was designed to remove the emotional where-is-my-super-yummy-cheesy-pizza crash and keep the whole family up and happy from that “Let’s order pizza tonight!” moment to when the doorbell rings.

I love this. And this is why so many people love the Dominos Pizza Tracker.  It also explains why so many people responded when I shared that I was told that the tracker is a fake.  About that guy who said that the tracker is fake…

I asked Tim how he explains the fact that the guy at my local shop laughed at me for bringing up the tracker and said that it is fake.  He said that anyone who says that the tracker is not real is either tragically misinformed or has made an error in judgement in order to excuse another error.  So where was my pizza?  No idea.  I was told that it was made, I was told that it wasn’t made, I was told that it went out to the wrong house, came back and then came to me.  I will never know, but I do now believe that for the most part, the Dominos Pizza Tracker is real.

The Takeaways

  • The idea behind the Dominos Pizza Tracker is fantastic, the technology is sound, but as everyone who has ever accidentally sent something lewd to their parents because of auto-correct knows, sometimes people and technology don’t play nicely.
  • As everyone who has ever worked at a job that they perhaps didn’t love or where they didn’t intend to spend their entire work lives knows, sometimes the one thing you’re going to get right is that pizza that you have to make for someone else and NOT the pushing of the button to let those impatient people know that their pizza is being made.   We all have bad days, and most of us don’t deliver food for a living.
  • We own the Dominos brand; Dominos does not.  Tim made this point very clear, and I could not agree more. In the world of social media where my kids’ lost lunch becomes an internal corporate communication flurry, the game has changed.  The Dominos company knows the truth, but what we decide and say is true suddenly becomes true.  Back in December of 2009 I wrote about this online phenomenon, which can skyrocket a seeming nobody to fame or bring a major corporation to a standstill.  Knowing this, why would Dominos implement a “fake” tool?  They would have been found out years ago.

I know, because I tried to find out just that.

Conclusion?  The Dominos Pizza Tracker is real.

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  • Ok, I’m relieved that it’s real! But the part about the fake names? When I mentioned to my daughter that the pizza tracker might be fake (she’s 15, and yes I have been thinking about this all day!) her eyes bugged out and she said “It is? Is Himmler fake too?” Because that’s who’s always preparing our pizza–Himmler, according to the pizza tracker. Whether there is an actual employee in the Olney Dominos named Himler…seems kind of doubtful to me, but what do I know?

    • Maggie, I double dare you to call and ask to speak with Himmler to see what happens.

    • Lance

      It’s fake, I’ve been watching the tracker for 20 minutes and just as soon as it was half way through the delivery bar, the lady calls me and says they’re just about to put my pizza in the oven because their delivery driver is backed up and they want my pizza to be as fresh as possible…..

      • Evan

        They probably had to re-make your pizza to stay fresh and the called to let you know.

  • I’m happy with the way Dominos handled this, via your conversation with Tim, but I would preferred for you to have been given a tour of your local store so you could tweet pictures of those actual buttons.

    • Now THAT is a great idea.

    • Anonymous Dominos Driver

      As a driver for Dominos, I concur that this is pretty much how things are supposed to work, theoretically. As a disclaimer, procedure definitely varies a bit between stores and may deviate some from corporate standards. In addition, I work at a franchise, which while still needing to maintain food and presentation standards (uniforms, etc) are free as far as I know to make their own decisions regarding employment and other internal affairs not directly affecting service.

      At any rate, speaking for the general progress at the store I work for (numbers indicate tracker stage):
      1. Orders come in via either the internet, or in person / over the phone (entry is the same for both).
      2. Once the order is finalized, it appears on the screens at the makeline, and possibly on a TV in the lobby. At this stage, *multiple people* may make your pizza. During non-peak times, it might be just the manager or other employee, at peak times, it could be 4+ in an assembly line fashion. The key thing here is that no one is “logged in” to the makeline. There may be some account behind the scenes, I’m not sure, but the main point is that your pizza could have been made by any combination of people trained on the makeline (any non-driver would be, and drivers may be cross-trained to do so).
      At the end of this, the first “button” is pressed (actually just a standard keyboard key). Here’s generally where the first issue with timing occurs. For accurate timing, it obviously should be pressed right as the pizza is going into the oven, but may rarely be pressed late, or frequently be pressed early when the pizza is still “somewhere” on the makeline.
      3. Baking is fairly straightforward, however a couple things could cause issues. a) the oven(s) might be full. They have a fixed capacity and run at a fixed speed. At around a foot per minute, with 2 pizzas side by side, they have a slower throughput than is perhaps ideal at peak times. b) once they get through the oven, they may wait at the end if cutting station is busy (see 4.)
      4. “Quality Check” More properly the cutting table. While QC does happen at this stage, (eg ensuring the toppings match the box label), many other things happen here as well. Your pizza is boxed, cut, and any sauces are added. Any additional sauces are included here. Individual items are matched into orders and put on the warming racks to wait for either a customer or available driver to pick them up. There is NOTHING at this stage to indicate to the computer system where the order is at. For a carry-out order, nothing affects tracking after it goes in the oven. At this point, if there’s been any sort of mistake or missing item in the order, the new item must be prepped, and wait its own turn through the oven. Nothing will indicate you of this.
      5. Delivery At this point, ideally there’s a driver waiting to take your order, but it might wait for a couple reasons. There might not be a driver currently available. For stores that aren’t consistantly busy, it’s a challenge keeping the right number of drivers on the schedule during both busy and non-busy times. The other reason is your order might be held up waiting for a later order en-route to or nearby your address. While this may seem like a big deal, it will generally not hold up an order for more than a few minutes. A lack of driver available is generally more severe.
      Once there is a driver available, and the order(s) is ready, the driver adds them to a list on a computer screen, and checks out )again, on screen). This is the second “button” mentioned, and the only other place your order is explicitly tracked. After this (or ideally before if not busy), the driver may gather any additional items needed (sodas, additional sauce cups, plates, napkins, cups, etc). and be on his/her way. From this point any standard traffic hazards would apply. As far as the tracker assuming 10 minutes, I’m not sure why that’s used. As a worst case time, the driver checking back in should be an indication your food was delivered. Aside from that though. Dominos uses a navigation system similar to pretty much any other out there. Distance and estimated round trip time are known to the system, drivers, and management so it’s a mystery to me why that info isn’t used for the online tracker.
      Some details here: You can see who served you on a credit card receipt – For Internet carry-out orders, the receipt is printed immediately, with the date/time processed and “Power” for the Server; if you pay when you pick up, the time and id of the person who helped you are printed. If it’s delivered, the time the driver checks out, and his/her id. In any case, the system tracks who a) entered your order, b) took your payment if you paid later, c) delivered your order if applicable but NOT who made your order.

  • Whew! I was in suspense. Seriously, I couldn’t wait to get off of work so I could do REAL stuff on the computer (like check your blog!)

    Based on this glorious discovery, I think that I’m going to get the pizza tracker to handle the Christmas list, hiding the Easter eggs and putting money under the pillow from now on too! I will also get it to text me throughout the day to tell me things like “those jeans make your butt look great” and “that report you just turned in will definitely get you a raise”

    Just like cowbell, I think I need more pizza tracker! Yay Dominos.

  • WHEW!! I am glad – I don’t order Dominos often, but when I do, I LOVE the tracker!!

  • LOL I stumbled upon your Dominos saga and am so glad to hear that its more or less real hehe

  • Janet

    I had never heard of the pizza tracker until you wrote about it. We live in the city and there’s a Dominos fairly close to us, so if we want their pizza, we pick it up ourselves. After reading your post, however, I’m thinking of letting them deliver our next order. Thanks for the info — and I’m glad to hear it’s real.

    • If you do have it delivered, take note who it says is making your pizza and then be sure to ask the delivery guy if that guy is really working there. It’s fun!

      • Janet

        I will definitely do that, Amy!

  • ellen

    Obviously this is a ploy by the Noid 🙂

  • […] Is the Dominos Pizza Tracker Real? […]

  • My 2 cents: ACCURATE 97% of the time!

    It’s very accurate. It’s perfectly timed. The delivery is the only thing that might have some uncontrollable variables but even then I never had it not be accurate to seconds. But as far as delivery, you might it a few minutes late or early depending on the situation

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  • Elizabeth

    I work at Dominos and was amused to find this topic. The tracker is real. It has its problems (sometimes assigning a driver as a manager or pizza maker & vise versa) but it is real & a helpful tool for customers & employees.

  • Elizabeth

    I could also tweet a picture of THE buttons too, but it would be anticlimactic. It is a standard keyboard & we only “Push the button” to clear the pizza from each screen. This was in place BEFORE the tracker but the tracker picks up on those clicks.

  • Elizabeth

    Sorry to blow up your blog, but reading the comments I can’t help but answer some burning questions. Himmler is probably real. We has a Mus (he is real too). Although I could probably get in trouble for this, I will admit that we use funny names sometimes (without considering the tracker, just for our own amusement). We will change to our middle names, nicknames, or all the FaceBook stuff like star wars names…only for a few hours every few months. Himmler is real & I guess he works a lot 🙂

  • This is a dumb ploy that needs to stop. I had to actually call the place back to ask where my pizza was, because it said it was delivered 30 minutes before it arrived. I received no call to warn me of such a huge delay. I do not live very far from the place either, there is no traffic in the suburbs so no excuse there. I received no apology from the driver or the place I ordered from. As if taking an hour to deliver a pizza that claims 20-30 minutes is normal?

  • Sherri

    The tracker is NOT real. I ordered my pizzas last night at 8:30 pm. Got them, ate them, and went to bed. It is not Noon the following day and guess what….my pizzas are still under the “quality check” spot of the tracker. LMAO what a joke!

  • Sarah

    I work at Domino’s & … Seriously? Of course the tracker is REAL. It has errors like every other computer system (that’s .. Literally.. All it is) we make your pizza, we push the enter button, slide that bad boy into the oven, 6 minutes later, we cut it and send it on its way. The driver may be there or they may be on another run, but they bag your pizza & check it out at dispatch. Some drivers need to stop for gas, some can’t find your house (TURN YOUR PORCH LIGHTS ON FOR THE LIVE OF ALL THATS HOLY, or at least have visible numbers. We aren’t magical.), or other problems arise. It happens. You know what you do? You call us. We answer, we give you what you want, and hope you’re pleased with your experience. We’ll remake it or give a coupon for later use (your preference–whatever). If THAT doesn’t happen, call corporate & they will more than satisfy your needs. Effort takes 2. Remember that. We can only do so much, but we try.