Here come the pizza gestapo

The great majority of Domino’s orders are placed over the Internet and almost all the rest are placed by phone. The number of people who walk into a Domino’s outlet, look at a menu, and order a pizza is relatively small, representing only a few percentage points of Domino’s customers. Other pizza chains see roughly the same thing.

So the signs are going to be largely useless, but they’re also kind of expensive, “Useless + Expensive” being the classic federal regulatory equation. McIntyre estimates a price between $3,500 and $5,000 per location. That isn’t very much to a big corporation like Domino’s, but the Domino’s corporation doesn’t operate all those Domino’s shops: Those are franchises, run by independent owner-operators. The profit margins are low, and five grand is a lot to put on a business that might only be throwing off $40,000 or $50,000 in profit a year. Or less: Franchise chains are pretty tight-lipped about what their stores actually earn, but if we assume a 5 percent profit margin, typical of such restaurants, and an average sales volume of about $730,000, as reported in 2013 by the Motley Fool, then that’s only $36,500 per store, meaning that a $3,500–$5,000 sign could easily eat up a tenth of a year’s profit.

What’s especially dumb about all this is that the store signage is replicating information that is widely available on the Internet. Domino’s, in fact, has a nifty little feature that no one uses (“very limited,” McIntyre says, diplomatically) called the Cal-O-Meter, which totals up your order’s caloric hit as you go. If you happen to be in that very small subset of people who both are very interested in Friday night’s carb load and are determined to eat takeout pizza for dinner, there’s an app for that.