Superior Service and Ambiance Grow Guest Counts for Top Performing Restaurant Brands

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • Season's 52
  • The Capital Grille
  • Bahama Breeze
  • True Food
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

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

Intent to Return

  • Mi Cocina
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Ocean Prime
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • Abuelo's

Connecting the Dots on Performance

There was an 8.35 percentage point difference in traffic growth between top and bottom performers in the third quarter.
Top performing restaurant brands saw a 25.3 percentage point difference in ambiance sentiment scores compared to bottom performers in the third quarter.

Even if restaurants have consistently posted positive same-store sales growth during the last six months, this has been achieved only through growth in average guest check. The industry continues losing dining occasions as guests spread their food-away-from-home dollars among more players in the food service space. Despite posting positive sales growth, same-store traffic growth during the third quarter of 2018 was -1.2 percent.

However, even though most brands in the industry are experiencing similar results and seeing their guest counts erode, those brands in the top quartile of performance (those among the 25 percent of brands tracked by Black Box Intelligence™ with the highest same-store sales growth) are achieving quite remarkable results when it comes to guest counts. These top performing brands were able to achieve positive same-store traffic growth on average during the quarter. Compared with those in the lowest quartile of sales performance, their traffic results were an outstanding 8.4 percentage points better.

What can we learn from these top performing brands that are able to grow their guest counts? White Box Social Intelligence data shows these brands get much higher guest sentiment scores when measured on ambiance. In fact, their net sentiment score* for this attribute was about 25 percentage points higher than for those brands that are struggling the most with their sales. Ambiance along with service have risen to the top as the two attributes that create the biggest differentiation between top and bottom performing brands based on sales growth. The message from guests seems to be: there are plenty of places from which to buy food from, but restaurants need to go above and beyond on the whole experience.

*Net sentiment score = percent of positive mentions – percent of negative mentions

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    orlando, fl

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    charlotte, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    los angeles, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    charlotte, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    los angeles, ca

If there is one message that was loud and clear during November, it was that chain restaurant locations in Orlando were the best at meeting their guests' expectations during the month. It has been a long-standing trend among the largest metropolitan areas in the country for Orlando to frequently top the list of most satisfied restaurant guests for a few of the attributes tracked by White Box Social Intelligence. However, during the latest month Orlando had the most positive sentiment for five of the six attributes tracked: food, service, ambiance, value and intent to return.

The only attribute where Orlando did not have the highest positive sentiment was beverages. But the honor of best performing market based on this attribute did not go very far. The market with most positive beverage sentiment during November was Tampa.

The places where chain restaurants had the biggest challenges meeting guest expectations were San Francisco (lowest sentiment for food and service), Los Angeles (lowest sentiment for beverage and value) and Charlotte (which fell to the bottom of the list for ambiance and intent to return).

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida61.0% Positive
  • western58.7% Positive
  • mountain plains58.1% Positive
Worst
  • ny-nj52.8% Positive
  • new england52.5% Positive
  • california52.3% Positive

Not only is the restaurant industry doing better regarding sales growth and guest sentiment at the national level, there are also encouraging results at the regional level. For the first time in TDn2K's Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot, more than half of all online mentions of restaurant brands were positive in all eleven regions of the country.

In the past, the elevated guest satisfaction recorded for the major markets in Florida did not necessarily translate to the overall region. During November of 2018, Florida topped the list as the region* with the highest restaurant guest sentiment.

The Western region and Mountain Plains round out the top three based on positive guest sentiment. The latter has consistently proven to be home of the most positive guests in the country. This region is typically found at the top of the guest satisfaction list.

Which regions saw chain restaurants facing the biggest challenges to meet their guests' expectations? Regions with lowest positive sentiment were California, New England and New York-New Jersey. The latter has proven to be a tough region to operate. Guests in New York and New Jersey are typically found on the list for least satisfied with their chain restaurant experiences.

*Due to its size, Florida is considered one of the regions of the country in TDn2K reports. California and Texas are also classified as regions.

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The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by White Box Social Intelligence™, a TDn2K Product™. 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.