According to Restaurant DemandTracker, a recent survey of restaurant customers in the United States, casual-dining restaurants can take a variety of steps to increase traffic. The survey asked restaurant-goers who were aware of each casual-dining brand what the brand could do to make them visit more often in the future. The answer choices included a broad range of possible changes including opening more locations, reducing prices, making various changes to the menu and atmosphere, and improving service.
For many brands, opening more convenient locations would make people visit more often. The three casual-dining brands that could see the greatest increase in traffic from opening more locations were Tony Roma’s (44 percent), Joe’s Crab Shack (42 percent), and Hard Rock Café (39 percent).
For other brands, lowering prices or offering better promotions would make people visit more often. The three casual-dining brands that had could see the greatest lift from “lowering prices” were Outback Steakhouse (41 percent), Cheesecake Factory (40 percent), and Texas Roadhouse (40 percent). The brands that would see the greatest lift in traffic from “offering better discounts and promotions” were Texas Roadhouse (33 percent), Cheesecake Factory (32 percent), Outback Steakhouse (32 percent), and T.G.I. Friday’s (32 percent).
For some brands, making changes to the menu could also help drive traffic. “Offering more healthy food choices” could help drive traffic most at T.G.I. Friday’s (19 percent), and at Carino’s, Famous Dave’s, and Red Robin Gourmet Burger (tied with 18 percent each). “Offering more unique food choices” would help drive traffic at BJ’s Brewhouse (18 percent), Sizzler (14 percent), and T.G.I. Friday’s (14 percent).
For some brands, improving service could help drive traffic as well. “If the service was faster” would help drive traffic most at BJ’s Brewhouse (17 percent), Cheesecake Factory (14 percent) and Red Lobster (14 percent).
“In this challenging macro environment, restaurant brands have to evaluate what things they can do that could increase customer traffic,” says David Decker, president, Consumer Edge Insight. “Each restaurant brand has a unique set of opportunities. In the casual-dining segment, the most commonly cited factors that would make consumers visit more often are more convenient locations and lowering prices or offering more promotions. But many brands have an opportunity to tweak their food and beverage menus, improve service, or make changes to the atmosphere.”