Who’s shocked Applebees sales are plummeting?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

3 May 2017

Applebees sales are a reflection of the state of its brand

Can it get any worse for Applebees? According to yesterday’s report, Applebees sales fell 7.9% in the first quarter. This follows a 7.2% decline in the previous quarter.

In case you were wondering, that flat out sucks. Casual dining or fast casual or whatever current industry jargon for the category is declining right now. Applebee’s sales decline is worse.

“But I am certain that answers do exist. So my challenge: Mr. Cywinski. If you really want to slay some sacred cows and make Applebees mean something, give us a call.”

 

Applebees salesHow much worse? So bad that the John Cywinski, Applebee’s president, said of the much needed brand revitalization, “There are no sacred cows here.”

No sacred cows, huh? Lots and lots of companies say that until it is time to slay a few. Then all of a sudden tails tuck between legs and golden cows suddenly re-appear.

Applebees sales dropped because of years of brand neglect

Applebees has been waffling about for years. We have written about the chain a few times. Last year, it tried rolling out a wood fired cooking concept/platform with things like hand cut steaks. Applebees sales only slipped 4.6% back then.

But what’s really going on? Based on history, that question requires a two-part answer. First, Applebees has no idea who are its customers. Sure, it knows what they are buying, how long they are staying and likely some fairly decent demographic information. But I doubt they know how their customers define themselves when they are eating there.

Applebees hopes their customers are folks looking for an “affordable indulgence.” (Applebees words.) What does that even mean?

Secondly, Applebees has no idea what it could possible say or do to entice someone to consider the restaurant in the first place.

I am 100% confident of this. Based simply on its performance. Applebees would not be shedding nearly 8% of their quarter-to-quarter sales otherwise. The only sacred cow any company should have is their customer.

I have no answers for Applebees, only questions. But I am certain that answers do exist. So my challenge: Mr. Cywinski. If you really want to slay some sacred cows and make Applebees mean something, give us a call. I’d love to help you with your cow problem.

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