Restaurant sales were up, but sentiment was down. What’s the catch?

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

Connecting the Dots on Performance

Top performing restaurant brands had a 9.1% higher sales growth in Q3 compared to the bottom quartile
There was a 14.4pp spread in net sentiment score for intent-to-return mentions between top and bottom quartile brands in Q3.

Despite the overall decline in sales and traffic growth throughout the year, there continues to be vast differences in performance at the brand level. There are restaurants that consistently thrive in this environment. These brands are better at delivering a superior experience to their guests and, as a result, get better guest sentiment scores online. And in the case of online reviews and comments, especially those that relate to intent to return, this positive sentiment can convert into better results as other potential guests perceive these comments as recommendations.

In the third quarter, top performing restaurant brands based on same-store sales growth (those in the top 25 percent), had sales growth that was 9.1 percentage points better than brands in the bottom quartile of performance. These top performing brands consistently score better in all attributes of guest sentiment, particularly intent to return.

Those same top performing restaurant brands had net sentiment scores based on intent to return 14.4 percentage points better than those that are struggling. Their guests are getting a great experience and are going online to share those experiences. These results suggest sustained performance in upcoming months as many of these satisfied guests reward them with additional visits and influence others searching online for places to dine.

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

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    tampa, fl
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    new york city, ny

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

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    raleigh, nc
  • Value

    seattle, wa

Guest sentiment data consistently reveals that guests in Orlando, FL tend to be much more positive than in any other major metropolitan area in the country when it comes to rating their restaurant experiences.

During November, Orlando topped the list as the market with the highest restaurant sentiment based on food, service and intent to return. Another Florida market (Tampa), had the highest guest sentiment around restaurant ambiance during the month.

A new trend is for the New York market to be more positive regarding its restaurant guest sentiment. Although the New York-New Jersey region is typically found the least positive restaurant sentiment among regions of the country, in November the New York DMA had the highest sentiment based on restaurant value. This market topped the list as the most positive for intent to return during October.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida62.2% Positive
  • texas58.7% Positive
  • western58.4% Positive
Worst
  • mid-atlantic54.7% Positive
  • new england52.1% Positive
  • ny-nj48.7% Positive

There are differences in expectations in the way restaurant guests throughout the country approach rating their restaurant experiences. In general, most of those ratings and reviews can be classified as positive, although in the case of New York-New Jersey during November, less than 50 percent of restaurant feedback was considered to be positive. This region is frequently found among the least positive in the country when it comes to restaurant sentiment.

Only one region of the country had over 60 percent of its restaurant reviews and comments classified as positive during November. Florida once again became the region with the most positive restaurant sentiment and the only that achieved over 60 percent of its mentions classified as positive.

Restaurant companies operating in Florida, the Western region and the Mountain Plains must account for the fact that guests there tend to rate their restaurant experiences more positively when comparing across regions or against national sentiment numbers.

The Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot is produced by data from Guest Intelligence™, a Black Box Intelligence Product™. Guest Intelligence 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.