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To-go Sales Fueling Restaurant Sales but Not Sentiment – What’s the Catch?

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • Seasons 52
  • The Capital Grille
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • Houston's
  • Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

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

Intent to Return

  • The Capital Grille
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Eddie V's Prime Seafood
  • Seasons 52
  • Fleming Steakhouse

Connecting the Dots on Performance

To-go sales were 11.5PP higher than dine-in sales for all of 2019
Net sentiment around dine-in is 33.7PP higher than net sentiment around 3PD

To-go sales is one of the clear areas of opportunity for sales growth for the restaurant industry. For years, restaurants have experienced off-premise sales growth clearly outpacing their dine-in results. During 2019 same-store to-go sales growth was an outstanding 11.5 percentage points higher than dine-in same-store sales growth. In fact, if it wasn’t for to-go and other forms of off-premise sales, overall same-store sales would not have been positive for restaurants in 2019.

To capitalize on this trend and meet the consumers’ increasing interest in getting meals outside of the traditional restaurant dine-in setting, many restaurant brands have turned to third-party delivery providers. However, there are significant challenges when utilizing this new, popular channel. Besides the obvious question of profitability in the cases in which the restaurant is covering the delivery charges, there is also the question on what impact the delivery experience has on your brand’s perception in the market.

It is not surprising to find that there is a fall in food guest sentiment from when a guest rates food consumed at the restaurant and food that is delivered through a third-party provider. What is surprising was the large gap between the two in terms of food sentiment. Black Box Guest Intelligence data shows food net sentiment for dine-in is 33.7 percentage points higher than food sentiment when ordering through delivery. Although limited service brands fare better in delivery food sentiment than full service brands on average (which is understandable given the focus on off-premise meals from limited service brands, since they represent such a big portion of their business), quick service and fast casual brands also experience a drop in food sentiment when comparing dine-in vs. to go offerings.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    philadelphia, pa
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    philadelphia, pa

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    los angeles, ca
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    raleigh, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    los angeles, ca

As has been established in the past, operators in Orlando, FL should account for guests there simply being more positive than in the rest of major metropolitan areas of the country when rating their restaurant experiences. It is common to find this market as the one with the most positive sentiment across several restaurant attributes each month. During February, Orlando led major markets in the country in most positive net sentiment based on restaurant food, beverage and service.

The other market that emerged in February as having the strongest restaurant sentiment during the month was Philadelphia, PA. Restaurant guests there had the most positive net sentiment based on restaurant ambiance, value and intent to return.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were two markets that experienced the most dissatisfied restaurant guests during the month. As is common, there was a California DMA included among the least positive. Los Angeles guests were the least positive on their experiences based on restaurant beverages and value. Guests in Raleigh had the lowest net sentiment based on food, service, ambiance and intent to return.

Best & Worst Regions

Best
  • florida63.5% Positive
  • western61.0% Positive
  • mountain plains59.7% Positive
Worst
  • california55.2% Positive
  • new england54.9% Positive
  • ny-nj53.1% Positive

Positive restaurant guest sentiment extends beyond just Orlando and into the whole Florida region. It is common to find this state as one of the regions with the most positive restaurant guest sentiment each month. The Western region was the only other region with over 60% of its restaurant mentions and reviews classified as positive.

Among the list of regions with the least positive restaurant net sentiment during February we find New York-New Jersey, New England and California. The northeastern part of the country has characterized itself for seemingly having harder guests to please. The steep competition in large urban areas from both independent and chain restaurants likely creates high expectations given the large number of available dining options.

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.