8 research findings that might make you gasp

peter romeo howard behar

In the era of big data, attendees of the Restaurant Leadership Conference learned that small metric bites can be downright delectable. Here are a few of the statistical tidbits that had 1,600 restaurant-chain executives furiously scribbling notes.

  1. When consumers are disappointed with a restaurant order delivered by a third-party service like PostMates or DoorDash, 55 percent blame the restaurant, not the carrier, according to a new study by Technomic.
  2. The same research, aired for the first time at the RLC, revealed that 56 percent of restaurant delivery orders are placed for dinnertime.
  3. Almost three out of five orders are delivered within a mile of the source restaurant, suggesting that convenience may be less of a consideration than a possibly discomforting experience. “What we learned was that people don’t want to go out by themselves,” Technomic President Darren Tristano explained in the session that opened the RLC. “Restaurants are not very well designed to interact with others when you’re going out alone.”
  4. Still, third-party delivery services are most popular among families with two children. “With more, it’s too expensive,” said Tristano.
  5. Not all of the research aired at the conference dealt with third-party deliverers. A session on franchisor-franchisee relations, presented by the research company TDn2K, addressed the question of refranchising. Does shifting company stores to franchise ownership accelerate systemwide sales growth? Yes, according to the numbers that were shared by TDn2K. It found that franchisees’ comparable-store sales have risen by an average of 2.3 percent, vs. a typical gain of 1.2 percent for restaurants operated by the franchisor. “It’s great to have that laser focus on execution,” said Ron Bellamy, CIO of Applebee’s franchisee Flynn Restaurant Group and a participant on the panel moderated by TDn2k.
  6. Restaurant chains that invest in at least four hours of orientation for new employees see a 20 percent lower turnover rate, according to TDn2K’s People Report.
  7. A simple action can profoundly change customers’ perception of a restaurant visit, said Carin Stutz, president of McAlister’s Deli. When patrons of the fast-casual chain are not offered a refill of iced tea, a signature of the brand, they give the experience an average satisfaction score of 45 percent. If the staff follows McAlister’s rules and offers a refill, the rating jumps to 81 percent, Stutz said.
  8. There is a backlash among consumers to big corporate entities, including large restaurant chains, noted Technomic Senior Vice President Patrick Noone. Sixty percent of consumers say they would rather eat in an independent restaurant, Noone said.


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