End of Summer Yields Stronger Guest Sentiment and Sales Growth

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Seasons 52
  • Mi Cocina
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • The Capital Grille
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • Mi Cocina
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • The Capital Grille
  • Seasons 52
  • Trulucks
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Mi Cocina
  • The Capital Grille
  • Seasons 52
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • First Watch

Connecting the Dots on Performance

Top performing full service brands reported 7.92% higher traffic growth than bottom performers in Q2.
Top performing full service brands received a 23.7pt higher net sentiment score for service than bottom performers in Q2.

The biggest challenge faced by chain restaurants today is the relentless decline in guest counts since the Great Recession ten years ago. In the case of casual dining, the largest segment of full service restaurants, traffic has declined by almost 9.0 percent since 2015. Nonetheless there are restaurant brands that have been able to successfully face this challenge and are even seeing an improvement in their guest counts.

According to Black Box Intelligence, top performing full service brands based on same-store sales growth during Q2 2018 (brands among the top 25 percent with highest sales growth) achieved same-store traffic growth that was a considerable 7.9 percentage points higher than those full service brands with the worst sales growth results. The key question is, “what are top performing brands doing differently to achieve those stellar results?”

There are definite clues found in what guests are saying online about their restaurant experiences. During Q2 2018, service scores for those top performing full service brands experienced service net sentiment scores that were almost 24 percentage points better than those brands struggling with their sales growth. For both full service and limited service restaurants, TDn2K studies have shown that one of the key drivers behind guest satisfaction and healthy sales growth is service. Guests adapt their expectations depending on the industry segment they are visiting, but they have a clear idea of what good service feels like in each of them and continuously reward it with incremental sales and repeat visits.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    philadelphia, pa

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    atlanta, ga
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    miami, fl
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    los angeles, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    raleigh, nc

Brands operating restaurants in Florida, and particularly Orlando, should be accustomed to receiving more positive feedback than in other locations across the country. The largest markets in this state are typically found among the most positive when guests discuss their restaurant experiences online.

During August of 2018, among the largest 25 markets in the country, Orlando led in positive sentiment for food and guest intent to return. The major metropolitan area with the most positive sentiment based on ambiance was Tampa-St. Pete. A relatively new addition to the ""most positive DMA"" ranking was Philadelphia, which led the country in positive sentiment for three key drivers of top restaurant performance according to TDn2K: service, value, and beverages.

Not all markets in Florida excelled in positive guest sentiment during August. Miami had the lowest positive sentiment based on guest intent to return. San Francisco and Los Angeles, two of the biggest markets in California, had the lowest percentages of satisfied guests when it came to food and beverages.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida45.0% Positive
  • mountain plains41.4% Positive
  • western41.4% Positive
Worst
  • texas35.9% Positive
  • southwest35.6% Positive
  • california34.6% Positive

The improvement in restaurant guest sentiment was widespread from a regional standpoint during August. None of the eleven regions in the country had over 40 percent of their total online comments classified as positive during July. In contrast, five regions (Florida, Western, Mountain Plains, Midwest, and New England) all had over 40 percent positive sentiment in August. Furthermore, the worst performing region based on guest sentiment during July had only 31 percent positive online mentions.

In August, the region with the lowest positive sentiment (California) achieved 35 percent positive mentions. Restaurant sales data also shows this improvement from a regional perspective. All regions of the country achieved positive same-store sales growth during August, while only eight regions saw positive sales growth in the previous month.

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by White Box Social Intelligence™, a TDn2K company™. WBSI is tracking over 192 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.