Denny’s is the latest restaurant chain to roll out the Test & Learn Management System from Applied Predictive Technologies (APT).
A six-month pilot proved successful, and the company is now using the solution to test strategic and tactical initiatives across its 1,670 franchised, licensed, and company-owned restaurants. It follows in the footsteps of restaurants like Red Lobster, Olive Garden, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
“It gives us the opportunity to test our ideas before we roll them out on a system-wide level,” says Frances Allen, chief marketing officer. “But it also allows us to see if there are ways to enhance the ROI and what’s going to be the impact and will it have a larger impact on some restaurants or markets than others. It’s a wonderful tool to allow us to bring a little more science to the area of marketing.”
APT allows Denny’s to be more effective with its marketing, Allen explains, adding that the chain can understand how different initiatives—such as an LTO—will impact different markets.
“It’s going to enable us to deliver more effective marketing plans on a market-by-market basis, so we won’t waste resources rolling things out that won’t work.”
This past summer, Denny’s used APT to examine its pricing. “One size doesn’t fit all; not all markets are created equal so it allowed us to see where we had some pricing opportunities,” Allen points out. “We took the advice it suggested and it is so far trending as predicted.”
Once the pilot project began, Denny’s trained a team of employees to use the APT tool—they can input data (pertaining to marketing, traffic, operations, etc.) and analyze it. The important part is to be able to analyze the data properly.
The employees love this tool, Allen says, “because they used to crank all this stuff by hand. They have a tool that allows them to be much more thorough. This tool is enabling them to be much more effective and they can use their analytical skills to dig down.”
The APT tool allows restaurants to take a level of fear out of making big decisions, says John Howard, vice president of APT.
“[It helps them] understand the impacts of remodels, any changes to a restaurant and how guests will react to them, how it will impact how [customers] use the restaurants.
Restaurant can also look at menu changes and pricing, he adds. “They can look at where they have a chance to increase price; where they should be reducing price; and how their guests will react to that.”
There’s a fine art to making changes, Howard points out, and to be effective they need to be launched with a punch.
“You have an initial opening to take advantage of an opportunity—and if you get it right first it saves time and can make a greater impact."
There are no downsides to the APT tool, Allen says.
“It makes us smarter. It allows us to read, react and refine what we’re doing and have a greater degree of confidence and we’re using our resources in a better way.”
By Amanda Baltazar