Restaurant Guests Not Chilled by Polar Vortex

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Fish City Grill & Half Shells
  • The Capital Grille
  • Seasons 52
  • Eddie V's
  • True Food Kitchen
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • The Capital Grille
  • Fish City Grill & Half Shells
  • Trulucks
  • Mi Cocina
  • Eddie V's
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • Fish City Grill & Half Shells
  • The Capital Grille
  • Eddie V's
  • True Food Kitchen
  • Ninety Nine Restaurants

Connecting the Dots on Performance

There was a 14.2% difference in management turnover between top and bottom performers in Q4 of 2018 for full service brands.
The top net sentiment differentiators for full service brands were intent to return, service and ambiance in Q4 of 2018.

There may be improvement in the overall sales growth results for the industry, but the gap between top-performing brands and the ones at the bottom is large and has been widening in recent quarters. TDn2K research has continuously found that the brands with the best same-store sales results also show significantly better management retention.

During the fourth quarter of 2018, those restaurant brands in the top quartile of same-store sales as tracked by Black Box Intelligence on average had restaurant manager turnover 14.2 percentage points lower than those brands in the bottom quartile of sales performance.

Furthermore, the attributes in which these top-performing brands drove the biggest gaps in guest sentiment compared with underperformers were intent to return, service and ambiance. Over the last few quarters these attributes have proven to be key to restaurant success. Given that the restaurant business is a people-driven business at its core, it is not surprising to find that according to White Box Social Intelligence™ metrics, those companies that excel at the people side of their operation are also those that are getting the best guest sentiment scores and financial results.

In the case of service, the connection is more obvious and direct: tenured, fully trained and engaged managers are likely going to lead to better sales results. But in the case of ambiance sentiment, the people tie-in may not be as evident on the surface. However, the data shows that a considerable portion of ambiance guest sentiment is based on aspects of the restaurant's operation that are directly in the hands of the employees, such as cleanliness of the restaurant or appearance of the table as the guest sits down.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    phoenix, az
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    orlando, fl

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    atlanta, ga
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    atlanta, ga
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    atlanta, ga

Regarding restaurant guest sentiment by major metropolitan markets during January of 2019, there was a continuation of a long-standing trend and a reversal of another.

The ongoing trend has been the presence of Orlando, FL as consistently having the most positive restaurant guests in the country. During the month, Orlando topped the list on most positive net sentiment based on restaurant food, service and value. Los Angeles reversed a trend by returning to the list of markets with highly satisfied restaurant guests. Although this market used to be listed among the most positive in the past, about mid-year 2018 it shifted to being one with the lowest guest net sentiment. However, during January, restaurant guests in Los Angeles were the most satisfied with ambiance and expressed the highest intent to return out of any other major DMA in the country.

On the other end of the satisfaction spectrum, restaurant guests were the least satisfied in Atlanta, Raleigh and San Francisco. Guests in Atlanta had the lowest sentiment based on three of the six dimensions of the restaurant experience: food, value, and the resulting intent to return. This is a first for this market. Perhaps hosting a Super Bowl put pressure on restaurants there in the weeks leading up to the big event.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida64.5% Positive
  • western61.1% Positive
  • mountain plains60.5% Positive
Worst
  • southwest56.6% Positive
  • southeast56.4% Positive
  • new england55.6% Positive

The improving restaurant guest sentiment has been widespread from a geographic standpoint, as evidenced by White Box Social Intelligence's regional results. For the third consecutive month, all eleven regions of the country had over 50 percent of their online mentions classified as positive.

Traditionally, it has been guests in the Mountain Plains region who have taken the prize as the most positive in the country when it comes to rating their restaurant experiences. Sentiment was positive in Mountain Plains again in January. Nevertheless, this month two other regions emerged as having the most positive restaurant guests in the country: Florida and the Western region. Over 60 percent of all restaurant mentions were positive in each of these three regions during the month.

The region with the least positive restaurant sentiment in January was New England. Even there, almost 56 percent of all mentions were classified as positive. Regardless of region, restaurants seem to have been successful in driving positive sentiment among their guests during the month, which bodes well for an industry that has continuously struggled with declining guest counts.

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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.

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