DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP, is the largest full-service dining company in the world with more than 3,500 restaurants. The company was formed in November 2007 when Applebee’s was aquired by IHOP. Since then, DineEquity has focused on energizing its brands, improving operational performance, and maximizing franchise development. DineEquity leaders knew it was important to engage team members and franchisees to help reach these business goals and navigate necessary changes.
DineEquity turned to Linhart Public Relations to assess the effectiveness of its systemwide internal communications with team members and franchisees. Linhart PR developed and conducted a multi-phase communications audit that included in-person senior executive interviews, team member focus groups, one-on-one interviews with field team members and franchisees representing both IHOP and Applebee’s brands, and an assessment of existing communications-related surveys and key communications vehicles.
The comprehensive audit revealed actionable recommendations to address change, build culture, and forge connections with team members and franchisees. There were quick wins — things DineEquity leaders could implement immediately to improve communications with team members and franchisees, as well as show they listened to and acted upon important feedback. The audit also identified solutions to incorporate into DineEquity’s current communications plan and vehicles, including helping team members understand how they collaborate and contribute to overall business goals.