Cravings are a funny thing. They pop into your mind at unexpected times and needle you until they are satisfied. That’s why restaurant operators strive to create craveable menu items and also why we decided to add a 10th attribute, Craveability, to this year’s Consumer Picks survey.
This marks the second year Nation’s Restaurant News and WD Partners have produced the survey, and as you will see in this issue, it is bigger and better — and we are happy to trumpet that fact.
This year we asked more than 5,300 consumers to weigh in on 152 restaurant brands. They rated them on Craveability and nine other attributes: Atmosphere, Cleanliness, Food Quality, whether they were Likely to Recommend them, whether they were Likely to Return, Menu Variety, Reputation, Service and Value. The result reflects opinions formed during more than 130,000 restaurant visits.
The results — which have been divided into three groups representing the Limited-Service, Casual and Family segments — can be found in the Special Report section. Along with the survey rankings, you’ll find details reflecting which attributes matter the most by industry segment as well as which brands fared well with different demographics.
Some of the findings might surprise you. For instance, Value once again lagged behind Food Quality, Cleanliness and, in at least one industry segment, Service — even though the economy’s slow slog keeps customers sensitive to what they pay.
Food Quality rose in importance in all segments in this year’s survey — and consumers indicated that Food Quality and Craveability often go hand in hand. Need an example? My family craves the warm bread at Joe’s American Bar & Grill, the calamari at Summer Shack, and the burgers at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Last night we ate at Joe’s. The bread was absolutely delicious and, come to think of it, so was the rest of the meal.
The Consumer Picks report also includes instructions on how to compare your 2012 performance — or that of your industry peers — to that in 2011. And you’ll find additional complementary insights on NRN.com.
Obviously, what consumers think is hugely important, which is why we dedicated so much time and space in this issue to bring you this project. Still, there are many other weighty subjects covered in these pages — most notably health care reform, which literally has our phones ringing off the hook.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in late June, I received a call from a Florida operator with more questions than you could shake a caduceus at. Since the complicated topic requires the insights of professionals deeply immersed in the issue, we reached out to attorneys, a benefits expert and a human resources consultant for advice. That story begins on page 3 and continues in the Business Intel section.
Little snacks continue to have a big impact on restaurant sales, so in the Food & Beverage section we look at some innovative ways chefs are taking noshing to the next level.
In Operations, Jim Sullivan offers some thought-provoking ideas about how operators can improve the industry’s image and elevate its status as a desirable and fulfilling place to work.
And in the Community section we introduce you to the 2012 Golden Chain Award winners. In-depth profiles of the honorees will appear in the Oct. 1 issue, which will coincide with this year’s Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators, or , conference to be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2. This year’s MUFSO, like our Consumer Picks survey, will be bigger and better than ever, offering up several new educational and networking opportunities.
For more information on what we’re calling the MUFSO Supershow, visit www.mufso.com. Once you attend, you’re likely to crave more.