What data show to be the restaurant industry’s most popular and financially successful limited-service chain was a regional cult favorite long before it decided to expand nationally from a Southern base. Its devotion to tradition and simplicity put it at the top of a new Restaurant Business rating of concepts by the combination of sales and customer satisfaction metrics, as measured by the publication’s research sister, Technomic. But sorry, Five Guys, you didn’t top the list.
Keep clicking to see which brand did, and what concepts are keeping Five Guys in exclusive company as the limited-service segment’s Top 25.
This ranking is based on an overall score that averages simple rankings of 2015 sales financials (average unit volume, year-over-year change in average unit volume, U.S. systemwide sales, and year-over-year change in sales—all sourced from Technomic’s Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report), satisfaction ratings of Consumer Brand Metrics respondents, and value (including overall value ratings in CBM and the chains’ average per-person checks). Sales and satisfaction scores are weighted to impact the overall score twice as much as value scores. Because scores are based on rankings, a lower score is better.
In many cases, the leading chains by sales don’t make the cut. (In fact, the seven sales leaders don’t.) This is because consumers tend to find the more-specialized and regional brands more compelling. The highest ranked chain by sales that made the list is Chick-fil-A, which is the top chain here. Its high sales, average unit volume and growth certainly help its overall score, but Chick-fil-A really shines thanks to its consumer satisfaction ratings, which are the second highest among all the limited-service brands studied.