Special delivery: Pizza Hut says it will add about 14,000 new drivers by the end of 2017 in an effort to speed deliveries to customers.
The hiring, combined with a new delivery system and enhanced online mapping, will enable Pizza Hut to "meet the needs of today's connected environment," the Plano, Texas-based company said Tuesday.
"This focus and commitment to the best experience will hopefully help some customers re-assess the brand if they haven't tried us in a while or haven't had us deliver a pizza before," Nicolas Burquier, Pizza Hut's chief operating officer said in a statement issued with the announcement. "We think these changes enable our team members even more to deliver a hot, delicious Pizza Hut pizza when the customer expects it."
The changes come as Pizza Hut vies with rival Domino's Pizza for hot-and-cheesy supremacy. Pizza Hut operates more than 16,400 restaurants in more than 100 countries. Domino's has more than 14,000 locations in over 85 markets.
However, Pizza Hut will lose market share to competitors and by 2018 the company will lose its dominant position to Domino's, Mark Kalinowski, a restaurant analyst for Nomura, predicted in a research note that was reported by CNBC and other media outlets in May.
Facing increased competition, Yum Brands, Pizza Hut's corporate parent, announced in May it would invest approximately $130 million between 2017 and 2018 to quicken upgrades of restaurant technology, improve digital and e-commerce capability and boost advertising.
Pizza Hut's U.S. franchisees agreed with the plan, said Yum Brands President and Chief Financial Officer David Gibbs told Wall Street analysts.
The hiring effort will add an estimated 3,000 new Pizza Hut drivers per month through the end of the year. Pizza Hut said the hiring represents twice the number of drivers the company normally would add monthly.
Coming amid a Trump administration push for new U.S. jobs, Pizza Hut's hiring is expected to increase its driver headcount to more than 50,000 by the end of the year, up from roughly 35,000 or so from now, the company said.
"We want to be the employer of choice for anyone looking to drive," said Artie Starrs, Pizza Hut's president for the U.S.
The company's plans also feature a new "Delivery Network Algorithm," described as a technology system capable of predicting how long a delivery would take and factor in weather, construction, traffic and other variables to ensure safe and accurate deliveries.
The system will be available in all 6,300 Pizza Hut U.S. locations immediately, the company said. Pizza Hut also said it has improved its online mapping and location services to improve accuracy in locating customers and identify the most convenient restaurant locations for faster delivery and carry-out options.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc
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