Flat Sales Growth Still Yields Positive Guest Sentiment In May

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • Mi Cocina
  • Newk's Eatery
  • First Watch
  • Papa Murphy's
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • The Capital Grille
  • Eddie V's
  • sweetFrog Premiumm Frozen Yogurt
  • Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
  • Mi Cocina
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Mi Cocina
  • The Capital Grille
  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • Rudy's Bar-B-Q
  • Islands Restaurants

Connecting the Dots on Performance

Life in today's world centers around too much data and too many sources of information. The challenge for many becomes what to pay attention to. What is relevant?

TDn2K research has focused on establishing what top performance looks like in the restaurant industry and what are the key differentiators that drive top performance. During the first quarter of 2018, according to Black Box Intelligence data, the gap between top and bottom performers was almost 8.0 percent in annual same-store sales growth. (Top performers are those in the top quartile of sales growth performance, bottom performers are in the lowest quartile). Furthermore, the data shows that the gap in performance has been widening over the last couple of years. So the question becomes, what are those top performing brands doing differently?

White Box Social Intelligence insights show that one of the key areas of differentiation is ambiance. Regardless of whether the service style is full service or limited service, restaurant guests tend to rank top performing brands based on sales growth much higher when it comes to the ambiance attribute than those brands facing the worst declining sales.

In some cases ambiance refers to components of the restaurant that are based on a capital expenditure and are therefore harder to improve on a short term basis. But frequently, it is the small details that make a huge difference. Things like restaurant (and restroom) cleanliness and a neat and properly cleaned table when the guest arrives can make a big impact on that ambiance score and drive incremental sales and traffic to a brand.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    houston, tx
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    chicago, il
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    indianapolis, in

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    chicago, il
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    miami, fl
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    chicago, il
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    charlotte, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    st. louis, mo
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    atlanta, ga

A long standing trend continued during May: restaurant guests in major Florida metropolitan areas tend to be the most satisfied with their restaurant experiences. During the month, guests in Orlando had the highest net sentiment score for food, while guests in Tampa led the country in net sentiment based on service and ambiance.

There was a surprise in this month's results. Los Angeles, which frequently topped the list in recent months for most positive net sentiment based on various restaurant attributes, dropped out of the list in May.

Restaurants in Houston have been consistently delivering superior restaurant experiences to their guests. Among the largest 25 DMAs in the country, this market has received the highest "intent to return" net sentiment score for three of the last four months. Their financial results also reflect this elevated guest sentiment. In fact, among the largest metropolitan areas in the country, markets in the top 8 based on same-store traffic growth during May include Orlando, Tampa and Houston.

*Net sentiment is the percentage of positive mentions minus the percentage of negative mentions for a given restaurant attribute.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • mountain plains37.5% Positive
  • western34.5% Positive
  • california34.0% Positive
Worst
  • southwest31.7% Positive
  • new england31.3% Positive
  • ny-nj28.7% Positive

Is it important for restaurant operators to account for regional differences when trying to draw conclusions from their online guest reviews and comments? The answer is, absolutely. If there is something that the Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot has consistently revealed, it is that restaurant guests in the Mountain Plains region tend to rate their restaurant experiences more positively than guests in other regions of the country.

On the other end of the spectrum, it has also continuously shown that restaurant guests in New York-New Jersey tend to be a lot less positive when discussing their restaurant experiences online. In fact, this was the only region of the country in which less than 30 percent of all restaurant mentions were positive during May. Rounding up the list of most positive restaurant sentiment during the month were the Western region and California (the latter is tracked as its own independent region by TDn2K). Least positive regions also included the Southwest and New England.

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by White Box Social Intelligence™, a TDn2K company™. WBSI is tracking over 550 brands to benchmark customer satisfaction and is the only online tool that integrates with operational performance data to validate the impact on financial performance. The algorithm determining ranking brands is based on sentiment and determined by White Box Social Intelligence. Brands included in this monthly snapshot must have a total of at least 250 mentions for the month. Restaurants must have a minimum number of units to be eligible as well. DMA rankings consider only the largest 25 areas.