Our mission is to protect Applebee’s and IHOP guests and the Brands by enabling our restaurants and Franchisees to provide safe and consistent food daily. Within the supplier selection process, we align with suppliers who are committed to the safety and consistency of the quality of food they produce. We fully understand the relationship between ourselves and the supplier and work diligently to keep an open line of communication through conferences, summits, and top-to-top meetings. Our supply base is bound by a Supplier Code of Conduct which details the expectation and parameters with which we expect our suppliers to govern themselves. Our suppliers are reviewed by industry-leading auditors and expected to receive a grade reflective of the industry's top-tier suppliers.
Every year our full supply base is provided with the Supplier Quality Program (SQP); this ensures our suppliers maintain the high-quality standards we expect and serves as a guide to meeting our non-negotiable requirements and expectations. Our suppliers are also expected to show yearly exceptional Animal Welfare standards by obtaining certifications from reputable third-party auditing agencies. Sustainable sourcing and reduction of our environmental impact are important, and our suppliers are expected to not only show prioritization in ESG but demonstrate yearly programs that also show an aligned commitment.
The safety and security of the food from the Supplier to the restaurant are critical to ensuring food safety. We believe that our distribution must be held to the same high-level standards as our supply base. Our suppliers must utilize transportation carriers that align with current industry standards. If a Cold Storage facility is used, the facility's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards and industry standards must be followed. To guarantee safe conditions for the product to be transported, we utilize a Temperature Tail program to provide the temperature of the product and the product environment throughout the distribution process. Our utilization of real-time tracking provides visibility into the trailer temperature and product temperature every second of the trip and allows our internal team to address concerns immediately. Using Temperature Tails enables us to better track and maintain the food quality and safety of the product and decrease possible food loss in transportation. Upon receipt of the product, our team members ensure the integrity of the packaging and the product temperature before placing the product in its rightful storage condition and recharging the temperature monitors for the next delivery.
In addition to the guest experience in the restaurant, our food must also meet, if not exceed, guest expectations. As much as it is on the suppliers to produce and the distribution to deliver, it is on our internal team to ensure the consistency of the product and the overall quality of the foods being served. To aid in the overall consistency of our products, we take steps including:
- In-person visits to the facilities to inspect production
- On-site product auditing
- Collaboration with suppliers on capabilities and equipment
- Consistent conversations with the supplier
Throughout the approval process of a product, we audit ingredients directly from the supplier over several production runs to know that the items which reach our restaurants adhere to our specifications. Our internal auditing plan has a tiered structure that emphasizes reviewing each product we serve throughout the year. Upon completion of the audit, the audit results are shared with our Culinary partners and suppliers to guarantee the product achieves the expected quality and culinary attributes. The results of these audits are shared with the supplier and reviewed internally to ensure that the level of acceptance compares against the standard previously set. Each of our proprietary products has a specification outlining the physical, chemical, microbiological, and packaging expectations for a product.
Information and Document Management
We take pride in the meals our brands serve and use innovation and technology to help maintain food quality and safety. Our Dine Brands Quality Assurance team uses a cloud-based third-party Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology to onboard and monitor food Suppliers and Distribution Centers' compliance with Dine Brands Quality programs. Suppliers and Distribution Centers must maintain an approved status based on Quality Assurance requirements to produce or deliver food to Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants.
In addition to compliance monitoring, our software allows the collection, tracking, and monitoring of any food quality complaints submitted by restaurant managers to the Quality Assurance hotline, where we can quickly identify quality issue trends so that swift action can be taken.
Internal product monitoring verifies that products are compliant with quality specifications, and results are uploaded into the software platform for the Suppliers to review. We are also an active member of the 3rd party’s Product Advisory Council that provides feedback to help implement new features and design the future of their program.