Connecting the Dots: The Link Between Employee Retention, Sales Performance, and Social Data

Black Box Intelligence provides its restaurant members with data, insights and benchmarks regarding workforce performance, financial performance and brand experience to help them achieve success. Their membership represents 43,000 restaurant units, 2.5 million employees and nearly $71 billion in sales. As a MomentFeed partner, Black Box Intelligence is sharing some of its insights and research regarding top performers in the restaurant agency.

Guest post by Kathleen Koehler, Senior Director, White Box Social Intelligence, Black Box Intelligence

Average performance is no longer good enough

Black Box Intelligencedata has shown a widening gap between restaurant brands performing at the top and the bottom with respect to sales. Average performance simply isn't good enough in today's fiercely competitive marketplace. To move into the top quartile of performance, social data provides key insights into many key areas of operations.

Top performing brands are identified as those in the top quartile of brands in the Black Box Intelligence Index, which track same-store sales for the rolling year. These restaurants are also in the top half of brands for the year prior to show they are not only a strong performer in the most recent year, but consistently over time. These brands also have at least ten locations.

Research by Black Box Intelligence consistently shows that top performing restaurants do not share the same characteristics such as type of cuisine, location or even dining segment. Rather, the best performing brands show similarities in that they can grow same-store traffic, retain their management as well as hourly staff and provide consistent quality service.

How top brands achieve superior sales and traffic performance

To help restaurant operators focus their efforts based on what the consumer is saying, White Box Social Intelligence, a guest satisfaction performance measurement tool, tracks six restaurant attributes: food, beverage, service, ambiance, value and intent to return. In an industry with a major focus on cuisine, surprisingly, guest sentiment around food showed the lowest spread between top and bottom performers. Service is consistently shown as the key differentiator between the strongest and weaker brands, with top performers revealing dramatically higher scores than competitors. Additionally, ambiance guest sentiment is emerging as a key element of top performer success.

In terms of ambiance, the costs related to restaurant redesigns and renovations often sets off alarm bells. However, the importance of it cannot be ignored, as this sentiment is most often related to cleanliness and order. Instead of pouring costs into redesigning a restaurant, ambiance can be improved with training and better management of staff. The addition of social and customer feedback data eliminates the guessing game for decision makers and reduces potential expenditures.

The trend of service as the biggest differentiator between top and bottom performers continues regardless of service style. Training plays a big role in maintaining service standards, but the retention of managers is also key. People Report, which tracks human capital performance, consistently shows that manager retention is a key driver of performance. To remain competitive and keep managers employed, operators are looking at ways to set their brand apart. According to Black Box Intelligence research, top performing companies pay higher salaries than their peers, set higher target bonuses and provide more training and development opportunities for their managers.

Cross-channel, cross-departmental

Successful restaurant operators know the importance of monitoring multiple channels to keep a pulse on customer satisfaction. Ideally, this can be done in a single dashboard to streamline the process. When social data lives in one centralized location that can be accessed from multiple departments it can be leveraged to make improvements across the business.

The social media landscape may already be familiar ground for marketers, but finance and HR have plenty of insight to gain from it as well. Ultimately, sales and traffic performance, employee retention and guest satisfaction are all inextricably linked.

When all is said and done, the restaurant industry is centered around people. The top performers are set apart by how they deliver on their brand promise. To do this, operators need the tools and resources in place to make sure they are accurately reflecting the needs and wants of their customers. Social data provides need-to-know insights, and the ability to track it in real-time gives restaurant operators a competitive edge.

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