Regional quick-service chains once again scored highly in the Quick-Track Awards of Excellence, a consumer satisfaction survey by Sandelman & Associates released this week.
The fast-casual Mexican chain Café Rio Mexican Grill won the top rating for overall excellence in 2010. According to Sandelman, 67 percent of the Salt Lake City-based Café Rio’s customers rated the chain as “excellent overall” based on their most recent visit.
Other regional quick-service chains also performed well. Pei Wei Asian Diner, In-N-Out Burger and Raising Cane’s scored top marks, with 63 percent, 62 percent and 61 percent of respondents, respectively, giving those chains an “excellent” rating.
Among the larger national brands, Chick-fil-A took the No. 5 spot with 60 percent of respondents rating the chicken chain “excellent” overall.
Despite economic pressures on both restaurants and consumers, customer satisfaction ratings are rising, the survey found.
Slightly more than half of the 136 quick-service chains monitored in the survey had a higher overall “excellent” rating in 2010 compared with the previous year.
“Several small fast-food chains with specialized menus are doing a great job at meeting consumers’ wants and needs at a time of economic uncertainty,” said Bob Sandelman, chief executive and founder of the San Clemente, Calif.-based Sandelman & Associates, a market research firm. “Our Awards of Excellence winners, many of whom are small, regional brands, continue to raise the bar for the fast-food giants.”
The survey evaluates consumer opinions of restaurants on 15 attributes of the dining experience, from the taste of food to value for the money. It is based on Sandelman & Associates’ quarterly Quick-Track surveys, which in 2010 tracked attitudes, awareness and usage by more than 95,200 quick-service restaurant users in 79 U.S. markets.
Café Rio, with 39 units, for example, was rated “excellent” on six attributes, including taste of food, quality of ingredients, speed of service, accuracy in filling orders, food temperature and being “a place for someone like me” or brand affinity.
Other chains also were rated highly on specific attributes.
Sandwich chain Subway, for example, was ranked highly for “taste of food.” McDonald’s scored well in “appeal to children” and Little Caesar’s was top rated for both “value for the money” and “affordability of prices.”
For “speed of service,” sandwich chain Jimmy John’s won high ratings.
Following are Sandelman’s top 10 chains based on the percentage of “excellent overall” ratings by customers:
1. Café Rio, 67 percent
2. Pei Wei Asian Diner, 63 percent
3. In-N-Out Burger, 62 percent
4. Raising Cane’s, 61 percent
5. Chick-fil-A, 60 percent
6. Capriotti’s, 58 percent
7. Paradise Bakery, 58 percent
8. Costa Vida, 58 percent
9. Lenny’s Sub Shop, 58 percent
10. Chipotle, 57 percent
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] .