Based on social media feedback, one differentiator that can lure more customers is superior service. If chains can reward and retain managers and create a service culture, it helps retain customers and make dining out a special event that prepared meals can’t match.
Dine Brands, which consists of 3,700 IHOP and Applebee’s in 18 countries, saw its third quarter 2018 revenue rise to $194 million from $175 million a year ago under new CEO Steve Joyce, who took the helm in September 2017. One factor in its revenue rise was off-premises and delivery sales, which spiked 37 percent and now constitute 7 percent of sales. In July 2018 it signed a partnership deal with DoorDash.
IHOP has achieved three consecutive quarters in 2018 of rising comparable-store sales, says Brad Haley, its chief marketing officer, based in Glendale, California. Outpacing the new competitors and maintaining market share have taken a multi-faceted strategy to succeed, but highlighted is “elevating the brand’s relevance and its impact on culture, through a new advertising campaign,” Haley says. The company’s goals are getting IHOP “at the top of consumers’ minds and give them a reason to come back and love us more,” he says.
Introducing the latest style of pancakes or waffles as an ad campaign, which worked five years ago or so, won’t be sufficient any more, he says. For example, to promote its pumpkin pancakes, which it offers annually, IHOP introduced a Keegan Ale pumpkin beer to boost its awareness and jump-start sales.