Denny’s wants to give guests a vibrant view of what’s taken place behind the corporate curtain in past months. Without question, 2017 was a metamorphic year for the brand. Like any chain emerging from decades of business as usual, Denny’s limped out the gate a bit when some of these initiatives were first deployed.
The brand started fiscal 2017 with first-quarter same-store sales declines of 1.1 percent, year-over-year. Those numbers turned quickly, however. In the second quarter comps rose to 2.6 growth and they lifted 0.6 percent in the third—a period marred by weather issues. Then, in Q4, Denny’s grew its same-store sales 2.2 percent versus the prior-year period and closed out the year with a 1.1 percent increase, which marked seven straight years of positive system same-store sales—something that is worth appreciating for a family-dining brand of this size.
“This reflects the momentum generated by our revitalization strategies,” president and CEO John Miller said in a conference call after Q4.
With the numbers backing the progress, Dillon believes now is the ideal time to start sharing the news.
But before rewinding to 2017, Dillon says it’s important to understand where all of these changes stem from. A few years back, Denny’s began clarifying its brand purpose behind the scenes. This crystalized and focused the chain’s efforts across the board, Dillon says.
In 2011, Denny’s launched a new campaign intended to shift its image from a family restaurant to America’s Diner. Denny’s said this wasn’t a pivot; it was simply recognizing and promoting what the brand knew it stood for already. And then there’s the mantra, “We Love Feeding People,” which Dillon says came from a newspaper article way back when that featured Denny’s founder Harold Butler explaining why he opened the chain.