Denny's Talks Off-Premise Sales & Safety Measures as It Plans to Re-Open
During Denny’s Q1 2020 earnings conference call, CEO John Miller discussed how his company is making “swift adjustments” to its business model as some locations begin to reopen and how fortunate the company was to have already established a strong off-premise business through its Denny’s on Demand platform prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, before COVID-19, off-premise sales represented approximately 12% of Denny’s business and nearly 60% of these transactions were pickup orders with delivery orders representing the balance. As the pandemic began to affect more states, Denny’s accelerated some of its national broadcast media to feature a free delivery message for consumers that ordered through its website or mobile app. It also used this time to introduce contactless delivery.
“We also quickly implemented a Dine-Thru curbside program to build pickup transactions and over 700 company franchise restaurants adopted the curbside service,” Miller noted. “As a result of these efforts, average unit volumes for off-premise sales more than doubled between February and April with pickup representing 57% of April transactions. Of the remaining delivery transactions, 28% were attributed to third party partners in April with the balance of delivery transactions coming through our website or our mobile app.”
The company also developed a streamlined menu that was specifically optimized to feature some of its more popular products and allow for greater kitchen speed and efficiency as restaurants were forced to adjust to significantly reduced staffing levels.
“Communication and collaboration have been critical elements in our program,” Miller noted. “We developed and shared training materials with all franchisees and restaurant managers in preparation for the impact of the pandemic. We have conducted nearly 30 calls with our systems sharing key information and best practices in this challenging time in addition to daily system email communications.”
HEALTH & SAFETY
With dining restrictions beginning to ease in some states, Denny’s has developed new health and safety measures to protect guests, staff, and suppliers.
First the company is encouraging all restaurants to have a dedicated sanitation specialist who is tasked with disinfecting services following every guest visit.
“This person wears an armband or a vest that identifies their role and leaves a card on every table notifying new guests that the area has been disinfected,” Miller explained.
Additionally, all high-touch surfaces will be regularly deep cleaned using a two-step process: 1) clean/disinfect and 2) sanitize. Denny’s has removed high-touch items like table caddies and condiments from tables and will utilize single use menus.
Employees are expected to wear face masks and gloves and submit to mandatory temperature checks using no-touch forehead thermometers. Vendors and service personnel entering the restaurant will also be required to have their temperature checked. Employees will be required to wash their hands and apply an alcohol-based sanitizer every 20 minutes. In addition, guests will also have easy access to hand sanitizer. Denny’s is also encouraging the installation of sanitary shields at each cash register.
“Social distancing within restaurants is mission-critical,” Miller said.
To that end, the company is rearranging its dining rooms to accommodate proper social distancing measures and has supplied stores with signage to mark tables that are not currently in use. It has developed merchandizing that highlights social distancing and other guest safety measures with floor decals, signs, door clings, roadside banners, yard signs, posters and table guards.
“With these measures in place, we’re confident that we can deliver the same high-quality food and great experience that Denny’s is known for and to do so in a safe manner,” Miller added.