Denny's Beckons Diners To Come Back

As people following the story now know, Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and YouTube's Chad Hurley and Steve Chen met at a Silicon Valley Denny's to broker their $1.65 billion deal.

Denny's has a message for the foursome: Come back and see us sometime.

Denny's, which operates 1,559 casual restaurants nationwide, is focusing its marketing efforts on enticing existing customers to visit more often, said a spokeswoman for the Spartanburg, S.C.-based chain.

The focus comes on the heels of the chain's September earnings report: Same-store sales were up 5 percent for the month and 2.8 percent year-to-date, and check averages had risen 3.3 percent for the month and 5.2 percent year-to-date. Guest counts, however, were a mixed bag: An increase of 2.1 percent for the month, but a decline of 2.2 percent year-to-date.

CMO Margaret Jenkins's charge is "to increase frequent guests--make sure we're retaining those guests--and also bring back light users," the spokeswoman said. (A corporate restructuring, announced Oct. 13, does not involve Jenkins, who continues to report to Denny's CEO and President Nelson Marchioli.)



Denny's recently completed two coupon-based marketing promotions. In mid-September, the chain distributed an SBS/Workplace national coupon that offered a buy-one, get-one-free entrée with the purchase of two Dr Pepper beverages, or a free Dr Pepper with the purchase of an entrée. The coupons "are looking to have a fairly good response so far," the spokeswoman said.

An ADVO national mailer dropped to 33 million households in mid-July and contained six offers, including a buy-one/get-one-free burger with the purchase of two beverages, 20 percent off the entire check, and a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. The drop "performed extremely well for us," the spokeswoman said.

Denny's has no plans to market its dealmaking notoriety online or offline, she added.

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