Improving Sales Leave Restaurateurs Hopeful for Q4

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • The Palm
  • Fleming's Steakhouse
  • Culver's
  • First Watch
  • Saltgrass Steakhouse
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • City Barbeque
  • Saltgrass Steakhouse
  • Slim Chickens
  • Fleming's
  • The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • City Barbeque
  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • BonChon Chicken
  • Fogo de Chao
  • Tijuana Flats

Connecting the Dots on Performance

This year, particularly the third quarter, has been very tough for chain restaurants. All industry segments experienced negative sales growth during the third quarter, a first in more than three years. However, for table service brands, (those classified as family dining, casual dining, upscale casual, or fine dining), there are brands that are being very successful at growing their sales. In Q3, those brands among the top 25 percent of table service restaurants based on same-store sales performance had same-store traffic growth 11.6 percentage points better than brands in the bottom 25 percent. This shows how wide that traffic gap is between top and bottom performers. Brands with solid execution have been able to solve the falling guest count challenge the industry has been facing since the recession. But what can we learn about those brands from the guest perspective? One of the key findings that emerged was that even though value is typically more associated with counter service brands, guest perception of value is still a key element for table service concepts. In fact, those brands that were classified among the top performers based on sales growth had an average net sentiment score for value that was 7.2 percentage points higher than those brands at the bottom of sales performance. Service, ambiance, food and beverages are all important for brands competing in those segments. But top performers differentiate themselves by better satisfying their customers from a value perspective. Be it a $10 meal at a casual dining restaurant or $100 at a fine dining place, guests want to feel like they got their money's worth.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    nashville, tn
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    houston, tx
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    sacramento, ca
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    nashville, tn

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    miami, fl
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    san francisco, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    denver, co
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    houston, tx
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    atlanta, ga
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    miami, fl

Restaurant guests in Orlando continue to show the most positive sentiment among major metropolitan areas. During November, Orlando had the highest guest satisfaction based on restaurant service. This is the second consecutive month in which Orlando has topped the list for this all-important metric. Another guest satisfaction metric that is closely related to restaurant sales performance is intent to return. This is definitely good news for restaurateurs in the Houston market. Not only did this city have the highest intent to return net sentiment score* (and the only one in which guests gave restaurants marks above 50 percent on this metric), it was also the market with the highest same-store sales during November. This could be a signal that brands in this market may see improved sales and traffic results in upcoming months. On the other end of the spectrum, the San Francisco-Oakland market experienced the lowest sentiment scores based on service. For the first time since TDn2K began publishing this data, the city with the lowest intent to return sentiment was Denver. This is a departure from Detroit being the market with the lowest intent to return score, which has happened several months this year. Detroit also had the second worst sales growth results during November. *Net sentiment is the percentage of positive mentions minus the percentage of negative mentions.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • mountain plains51.0% Positive
  • western28.9% Positive
  • texas28.4% Positive
Worst
  • southwest26.6% Positive
  • new england26.1% Positive
  • NY-NJ26.0% Positive

If there is one thing that the Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot has shown consistently, it is that restaurant guests in the Mountain Plains region are the most positive about their restaurant experiences. During November, this region again topped the list based on percentage of positive restaurant mentions during the month. Restaurateurs operating in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Wyoming tend to get higher percentages of positive online mentions from their guests there than in the rest of their restaurants throughout the country. Also among the most positive regions were Texas and the Western region. This is welcome news for Texas, which recently saw a sharp decline in its percentage of positive mentions. Texas was also the region with the highest same-store sales growth during November. This is a sign that the state is emerging from its hurricane recovery period much stronger than before. It has achieved two consecutive months of positive sales growth after being negative the rest of the year. As sales have improved, so has guest net sentiment in November.

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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.