The Denny's Story: How a Company in Crisis Resurrected Its Good Name and Reputation

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9780471369578: The Denny's Story: How a Company in Crisis Resurrected Its Good Name and Reputation

Acclaim for the Denny's Story "Every organization can benefit from the insights and experiences reflected in this thought-provoking book. By honestly confronting the issue of racism in the context of American enterprise, Jim Adamson provides a responsible and convincing rationale for diversity and simply doing what's right for customers, shareholders, and employees." --Floyd Hall, Chairman, President, and CEO, Kmart Corporation "Any company struggling with being racially inclusive in their employment and business practices should read this book. If Denny's can come from the back of the pack to emerge as a national leader in diversity, any company determined to change its culture to embrace all Americans--regardless of who they are or where they came from--can do it. The Denny's experience proves it." --Rev. Willie T. Barrow, Co-chairperson, Rainbow-PUSH Coalition "It is encouraging to see the aggressive steps taken by Denny's to address and repair its relationship with the African-American and minority communities. The company's responsiveness should serve as a model for other companies faced with a similar challenge." --Hugh B. Price, President, National Urban League "This is a true-life account that reads like a modern, corporate Cinderella story. Told in a candid and compelling manner by one of America's leading corporate turnaround experts, Jim Adamson, it's the inside scoop on one of America's most notorious episodes. Many of us will enjoy this book, but it provides a most important lesson to consider for Wall Street insiders and Fortune 500 execs." --Richard Bela, Esq., former President and CEO Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility Jim Adamson and Advantica are donating their portion of the royalties from this book to Save the Children to support its U.S. programs, which benefit thousands of economically disadvantaged children and their families.

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Review:

Before 1991, most people thought of Denny's as a place to get lots of food--especially breakfast food--for little money. But that year, the restaurant chain became the symbol of continuing racism in America as tale after tale emerged of abominable treatment of black customers. The most famous involved six black Secret Service agents, who were left sitting without food in a Maryland Denny's while their white colleagues--and everyone else in the restaurant--were promptly served.

In truth, the problems with Denny's went far deeper than its contemptuous treatment of minority customers. It was a company that had recently gone through a hostile takeover and was reeling from its crushing debt. Into that morass stepped Jim Adamson, who at the time was heading Burger King. He also had experience turning around a struggling drugstore chain. Equally crucial was his experience as a military kid--he lived around the world and learned to appreciate and get along with people of different cultures. As a basketball player in Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, he'd often been the only white kid on the playground. So, although no white person can really know what it's like to be black in America, he at least knew what it felt like to be different.

All those experiences--business and personal--came into play as he took over at Denny's in 1995. Today the restaurant chain is not only profitable, for two years running it has been named by Fortune magazine as one of the 10 best companies for minorities to work for. Almost a fifth of its supplies are provided by minority contractors, and more than a third of its franchised restaurants are owned by people of color. The Denny's Story is a fascinating read, both for its recounting of financial tactics and the bigger lessons it holds for racially sensitive business practices. --Lou Schuler

From the Inside Flap:

The Denny’s Story In the early ’90s, the Denny’s restaurant chain was faced with charges of race discrimination that severely damaged its image. Stories of African-American customers who were denied service or asked to prepay before eating were made public across the United States and around the world. In 1994, Denny’s settled two class-action lawsuits for $54 million. Add to that a parent company riddled with debt and a corporate culture firmly locked in the past, and it seemed that a permanent shadow had been cast in the doorway of Denny’s. Then CEO Jim Adamson came on board. He kept the doors open and, in time, opened the minds of employees to a new way of doing business. Adamson assembled a team of people from across the country to tackle the daunting task of transforming the company culture, making inclusiveness and diversity central to the everyday work ethic at Denny’s. Now, every employee—from waitstaff to managers—receives specific training that emphasizes respect for differences among people. And for two consecutive years, Fortune magazine has ranked Denny’s and its parent company among the top ten companies for minorities in America. What it took to turn the company around was hours and hours of hard work; thoughtful, innovative, and proactive programs; the willingness to lead and take risks; and, most of all, an absolute commitment to do the right thing—no matter what. Denny’s has not just survived—it has flourished, becoming a model of success for companies large and small, in every industry. The Denny’s Story is the real-life account of how the company pulled itself out of a public relations nightmare and earned back the trust of its customers. Adamson describes how his prior professional experience prepared him for the work he faced in restoring Denny’s reputation after a series of troubling incidents that led to lawsuits filed against the company. Here, Adamson explains the beliefs and strategies necessary for changing the heart of an organization in serious distress that can be applied to any business. He provides an honest blueprint for dealing with crisis, arming the reader with the tools needed to alter management thinking, build a strong sense of unity, and keep employees happy in the process. Enlightening and instructive, The Denny’s Story is a remarkable example of how teamwork, fairness, and keeping the customer satisfied will protect the good name of your company during any crisis you may face in the future.

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