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Applebee’s Recommendations, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 930

Essay

Even though my last visit to Applebee’s with friends was mostly a positive experience, I have noted several variations in my overall experiences to visits to various Applebee’s restaurants over the years. While I mostly go to Applebee’s for their food quality, I realize that not all Applebee’s customers have similar preferences or expectations. This is why Applebee’s can significantly expand its client base by following some of the recommendations presented in this paper.

I have usually received good customer service at Applebee’s over the years but I have noticed that some Applebee’s restaurants have more friendly and likeable staff than others. Applebee’s may be a national chain of restaurants but it is not usually perceived as a cheap outlet like McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Thus, many visitors to Applebee’s also expect a customer service that mirrors the total spending on the meals. The customer service me and my friends from Saudi Arabia received on our last visit is one of the best I have received over the years at different Applebee’s restaurant and I would like this level of customer service to be a minimum standard at all Applebee’s restaurants. This is why I believe Applebee’s may learn a lesson from Apple’s approach that also has built a reputation for unrivaled customer service. Apple has created a proprietary training program for employees of its retail outlets and even uses videos to train its sales associates (Frankel). Even though Applebee’s management has been moving towards almost-all-franchised-brand (Jennings), the company could design proprietary training program that all employees with customer service roles are required to go through, either in person at regional training centers or on the internet. Internet training program could be combined with a written test to ensure that the employee did indeed fulfill his training obligations and has understood the material. The training will ensure highest standards of customer service at all Applebee’s locations and may even increase client base due to superior customer experiences.

One of our rare negative experiences during the recent trip was that the restaurant didn’t honor a promotion we had seen in a local newspaper, claiming that it was not participating in the promotional campaign. We agree that the newspaper ad did mention ‘participating restaurants’ at the bottom of the ad that was only noticeable upon closer look. Even though restaurant had a right to deny our request, such a promotional strategy may do more harm than good to the brand’s image in the long term. First of all, customers will stop trusting or paying attention to such ads because they will never know which Applebee’s restaurant may be a participant. In addition, it will send inconsistent message about the brand that it cannot offer uniform experiences to customers at different establishments. Thus, the company should take steps to avoid brand confusion and work closely with franchisees to ensure that all marketing promotions are fulfilled by all establishments within a given geographical area. Instead of leaving local marketing to individual franchisees, the company could persuade them to integrate their marketing activities and work closely with each other to design and run promotional campaigns. This will increase the credibility as well as the effectiveness of promotional campaigns in the future.

Another thing Applebee’s may do is to offer free and low-priced desserts to high-spending customers. Even though me and my friends would have ordered ice creams anyway, the low price really made us feel like we were being appreciated as customers. While ice cream offer was good, not everyone goes for ice cream. Thus, I believe that Applebee’s should offer low-priced desserts because it will not only make customers feel appreciated but would also encourage them to come more often. Little gestures often go a long way in building the customer goodwill and the cost of low-priced desserts may easily pay itself through more business from repeat customers in the long run.

My suggestion of integrated marketing activities may draw objection from franchisees who may argue that they often have different economic circumstances and while some establishments may need promotions to improve sales, other establishments may already be doing well and won’t need the promotion. Moreover, it is already a norm in the franchise industry to allow franchisees to manage local marketing initiatives (Daszkowski). The franchisees may be right that franchisors do allow them to manage local marketing but the costs may outweigh the benefits. When customers go to an Applebee’s establishment, they have expectations shaped by the Applebee’s brand and rarely know or care about the fact that they may be visiting a franchisee location. Integrated marketing ensures consistent experience and helps strengthen the brand’s positive perceptions which should also benefit franchisees. This is even more important now because Applebee’s business model is now almost entirely franchise-based (USA Today). If different franchisees start pursuing different marketing strategies, it may confuse the consumers and draw them to the competitors.

My last visit to Applebee’s was great and my friends were also impressed but I am a regular customer of Applebee’s which puts me in a unique position to identify and recommend strategies that will help Applebee’s improve its brand image and strengthen customer loyalty. Applebee’s is now almost entirely franchisee-based chain, thus, it is even more important to portray consistent image to the customers through integrated marketing activities and unrivaled customer service.

References

Daszkowski, Don. Franchise Marketing. 10 November 2012 <http://franchises.about.com/od/franchisebasics/a/franchise-marketing.htm>.

Frankel, Alex. Magic Shop. 1 November 2007. 10 November 2012 <http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/magic-shop.html>.

Jennings, Lisa. Applebee’s sells 33 locations to franchisee. 29 May 2012. 10 November 2012 <http://nrn.com/article/applebees-sells-33-locations-franchisee>.

USA Today. Applebee’s trying out fresh food, look and campaign. 1 July 2012. 10 November 2012 <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-06-29/applebees-president-mike-archer/55965814/1>.

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