In my hometown, the nearest Papa John’s pizza is an hour away.  I am a fan of Papa John’s, partly because it is headquartered out of Louisville, Kentucky (where I attended UofL) and partly because I had a memorable encounter with Papa John himself, John Schnatter, years ago (CLICK HERE to read that article).

I travel frequently and while on the road I typically carve a day out of the week to order Papa John’s using their app on my iPhone.  A few weeks ago, I received an email requesting a survey after my recent purchase.  I decided to take the survey.  I answered the questions about speed, accuracy and the delivery driver.  However, the last question requested any comments I might have.

Keep in mind, I gave every question 5 stars, but in the comments section I decided to offer my one complaint, the one thing that drove me up the wall virtually every time I ordered.   I always ask the delivery driver for crushed red pepper and they always look at me with a blank stare,  as if I asked for the pizza at no charge.  So, I decided to write this comment into the survey.  While writing this out on my smartphone, I even caught myself considering where this comment might go.  What manager or data researcher might actually receive it, and if they did receive it would they actually read it?  AND… if they did read it would they do anything about it?  Of course not!  I am smarter than that!  There is no way my little comment would ever really amount to anything.

The next week I ordered a pizza.  I felt bad because it was the one time I wasn’t waiting for the driver in the lobby.  The front desk had to call me and let me know it had arrived.  In fact, the gentleman at the front desk told me on the phone, “the driver dropped your pizza boxes on the counter, took two pieces out and starting eating them as she walked out of the hotel and sped off in the car.”  I laughed and told him I was on the way.  I paid for my pizza (all accounted for) and thanked them both and headed back to my room.

When I sat down at the desk, I turned on the evening news and opened the pizza box.  And there it was!  There, laying neatly on top of the garlic butter was… a few packets of crushed red pepper.  WHAT???

Now, I have had just as much pizza as the next guy, and I have NEVER had crushed red pepper in the box, not once in my entire life!

Needless to say, it caused me to write this article, I will tell all of my close friends when hanging out this weekend, I will tell everyone this story in the future when pizza comes up and of course I am going to put it on Facebook… which means 2 billion people might hear this story!  In my mind, Papa John’s “leveled-up”.  All for the cost of listening to my feedback and a $0.02 package of crushed red pepper.  Now that is one-hot marketing deal for them!

As we translate this into the auto dealer world, how can we find creative ways to listen to our customers, to change the old processes, to give the customers what they really want and to find ways to impress them?

Two questions for you, have you ever received red crushed pepper in your pizza box from Papa Johns OR do you have a similar story about a “WOW” customer experience?  Write me at and please share this story!

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