Earlier this week marked my one year anniversary here at Applebees. Although the time has flown by, there have been many challenges, lessons and successes, which, sometimes makes it feel like it’s been 10 years.
First and foremost, I am proud of what our team has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. Many of you might think it’s easier to get up and running when you have the biggest brand in casual dining, but I can assure you it is not. But what made it a pleasure has been those on my extended team, along with some forward-looking franchisees and business partners. Without those folks, we would not have a more robust (albeit young) social strategy creating real results for our business.
Whenever you are new to an organization, you have to learn to navigate the waters. Couple that with a lack of institutional knowledge or experience with social business, and it can be difficult at times. Even with those bumps, it helps when you have C-level leadership that â€œgets itâ€ and supports what youâ€™re doing.
In just a short time, weâ€™ve been able to build up our online communities and really start to engage our guests in a meaningful way. Theyâ€™re coming in droves and weâ€™re doing our best to have rich, transparent, and real dialogue with them every day. Do we always succeed? No. Are we getting better and learning more about our customers? Yes.
As my team does all it can to evolve from the â€œsocial media help desk,â€ I canâ€™t think of anything we would have done differently. I would have fought harder for some projects and not so hard for others. I would have worked more at the beginning to educate my cross-functional business partners but theyâ€™re all now embracing what lies ahead. Applebeeâ€™s is making great progress in becoming a more socially-minded brand focusing on integration and dialogue with our guests. That feels good and our team has helped move that along greatly.
Still, there is much work and many silos to break down. Not everyone believes in social by design and the culture is still evolving. There are some stuck in the old model and theyâ€™re kicking and screaming their way into the new normal. Theyâ€™ll either eventually succumb or theyâ€™ll die. Thatâ€™s how business evolves and works in 2011.
Iâ€™m proud of the work weâ€™ve done after just a year. Itâ€™s not enough time to get where we really want to be but progress is progress. No matter how fast Iâ€™d like it to move, it takes time and weâ€™re making a difference.
For now, thatâ€™s good enough for me.