Are Your Guests Raving About Your Restaurant?

Restaurateurs have been in a very competitive marketplace for years.  Full-service restaurants battle with luxury food retail and take-out as much as they do with other restaurants in their comp-set.  The restaurants that survive don’t whine about it.

What do they do?  Certainly, a key focus is on retaining a greater share of repeat customers.  But predicting loyalty is extremely difficult for restaurants.  For one thing, 35% of the money spent in full-service restaurants comes from travel and tourism; the guests that spend 35 cents of every dollar are probably not coming back soon, unless they are frequent travelers to the same locale.  So how can we gauge this loyalty?

One way to measure loyalty is to determine how likely consumers are to recommend your restaurant to others.  This is exactly what Coyle sought to discover in a recent survey.  We asked nearly 2,500 unique consumers on a scale of 1-10 how likely they were to recommend the last full-service restaurant at which they ate.  We’ll be sharing the results of these findings in a series of blog posts on our site this week.

What did these numbers tell us?  Comparing segments is tricky because the casual experience offers something different than the upscale one.  It is interesting, though, that true positive recommendations (a score of 9-10) are garnered less than half the time in all segments.  We suspect that restaurateurs in the luxury environment, where the intention is to “wow”, would feel that number is low (and therefore offers opportunity), while the casual operator might be quite happy with 40% of guests giving them a 9-10. (See chart below).

On the flip side of the coin, it is clear that casual and upscale restaurants draw a much larger percentage of negative overall scores, whereas only 10% of respondents say their luxury dining experience wwe poor. 

Somewhat troubling, however, is the large number of passive ratings; these are fairly even across all three segments (37%-43%), suggesting that a large percentage of diners are on the fence in their perception of the restaurant.  Again, an opportunity for many segments.

What are the attributes that turn a 7-8 (passive) into a 9-10 (positive)? We looked at the impact of  variables including food and beverage, timing, atmosphere, staff attitude, value, table service and hosting functions, and discovered where the opportunities may be for restaurateurs in casual, upscale and luxury segments.  As might have been predicted, food and staff attitude hold the most sway. 

We’ll explore these variables more specifically across segments in our blog posts this week. 

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