Positive Intent to Return Scores Bring Optimism to Restaurant Industry

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™

Top 5 Restaurant Brands

Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Food

Food

  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • Mission BBQ
  • Charley's Grilled Subs
  • Mi Cocina
  • Seasons 52
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Service

Service

  • Mi Cocina
  • Mission BBQ
  • Rudy's Bar-B-Q
  • Tijuana Flats
  • Seasons 52
Best Restaurants Rated Socially for Intent to Return

Intent to Return

  • sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt
  • Mi Cocina
  • Mission BBQ
  • Hopdoddy Burger Bar
  • Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

Connecting the Dots on Performance

employee turnover
net sentiment score

For the last year, restaurant operators have struggled to find and keep enough qualified employees. The fact is, the industry is experiencing historically high turnover rates for restaurant employees and managers. So there is plenty of reasons for operators to be worried about staffing levels.

As Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) research has shown, there is the clear connection between staffing, service, guest sentiment and its resulting effect on a brand’s sales and traffic. During the first quarter of 2018, top performing restaurant brands based on same-store sales reported higher net sentiment scores from their guests than underperforming brands based on sales. One of the critical differences between those same top performing and bottom performing brands based on sales growth: top performers had restaurant hourly employee turnover that was a substantial 29 percentage points lower than those brands in the low performing group.

This is undoubtedly a cycle in which brands with better retention provide better restaurant experiences, which results in higher guest sentiment. This translates into incremental sales and traffic, then circling back to creating an environment in which employees are likely to stay at their jobs longer.

Top DMAS

  • Best Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    orlando, fl
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    houston, tx
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverage

    nashville, tn
  • Best Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    los angeles, ca
  • Best Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    tampa, fl

Bottom DMAS

  • Worst Restaurant Food DMA

    Food

    detroit, mi
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Service

    detroit, mi
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Intent to Return

    charlotte, nc
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Beverages

    houston, tx
  • Worst Restaurant Service DMA

    Ambiance

    detroit, mi
  • Worst Restaurant Value DMA

    Value

    raleigh, nc

Restaurant guests in Florida and Los Angeles continued to have the most positive net sentiment for most of the restaurant experience attributes tracked by Guest Intelligence (formerly White Box Social Intelligence). Orlando topped the list among the largest 25 markets in the country based on highest net sentiment for food. Tampa had the highest net sentiment based on value, and Los Angeles had the highest net sentiment for both service and ambiance. Orlando and Los Angeles also topped the list for food and ambiance during March, respectively.

However, it is important to highlight what happened in Houston during the month. This DMA had the highest “intent to return” net sentiment during April; it was also the one with the highest average same-store traffic growth over the last three months. There is also an interesting area of opportunity for Houston: even though it has the highest intent to return sentiment, it also had the lowest sentiment for the beverages offered by restaurants in that market.

Another trend that persists is that restaurant net sentiment in Detroit is typically the lowest among the largest 25 markets in the country based on guest satisfaction. During April, Detroit had the lowest net sentiment for food, service and ambiance. Not surprisingly, this market is also among the DMAs with the lowest average same-store sales growth during the last three months.

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 Black Box Guest 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.