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For Denny’s CEO John Miller, there is always room for improvement in the customer experience arena. Although Denny’s has made great strides in this area, along with customer engagement and brand loyalty, nothing will stop Miller from augmenting the Denny’s product and experience.
During Wednesday’s fourth-quarter financial results conference call, Miller said he was excited about the brand’s strong finish to 2014−which saw the all-important same-store sales climb higher than they’ve been in the past eight years, primarily driven by increases in traffic.
“Our brand revitalization efforts continue to gain momentum with our guests,” Miller said, according to Seeking Alpha. “Both our franchisees and Denny’s corporate team remain energized and committed to further enhancing the performance of the brand. Our goals for consistent gains in sales, customer return scores, and both unit and margin growth are dependent on the execution of key initiatives in strategic areas.”
Miller explained that the first area of strategic focus is to deliver a differentiated and relevant brand.
“Our unique America’s diner brand positioning serves as that foundation,” Miller said. “It provides the warm welcome that we all want, that place to be ourselves, and that place affectionately known as Denny’s. By improving our menu offerings, the taste and quality of our ingredients, our menu merchandising and our dining environment, we’re giving more people more reasons to come more often at all times of the day.”
More than 50% of the core menu has been improved during the past four years through a combination of new products and enhanced ingredients, Miller explained.
“Though our strategies have led to significant improvements, we look to our guests to further guide us in our ongoing efforts to enhance our appeal and our product offerings,” he said. “Our new core menu, launched in early January, showcases a number of our fresh ingredients with more pictures and opportunities for upselling. The promise of everyday value is very important to our diner positioning and delivered primarily through our successful 2-4-6-8 Value Menu. Equally important are the margins of this traffic-driving strategy to our franchisees, who work with us collaboratively to improve the profitability of our menus.”
The Denny’s Heritage remodel program, which rolled out at the end of 2013, is foundational to the brand.
“With less than 20% of the system reflecting the enhanced atmosphere, we believe we’re still in the early stages of our brand revitalization,” Miller said. “This year, we will continue to accelerate remodels at company restaurants with the target of completing 45 through 50 remodels by end-of-year.”
At the end of last year, Denny’s implemented the Pride review program with a team of coaches tasked to evaluate all restaurant operating standards and empower its family of operators to share and implement best practices.
“This is accomplished by assessing, measuring, coaching, and continuously improving the consistency and the execution of our current brand standards, as well as all new initiatives,” Miller added.
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