When average isn't good enough

The Restaurant Industry Snapshot is out for May and the news is not very encouraging

Editor's note: This new and exclusive series to Nation’s Restaurant News provides C-level insights into the sales and traffic data from clients subscribing to Black Box Intelligence, a financial performance benchmarking company. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nation’s Restaurant News.

The Restaurant Industry Snapshot is out for May and the news is not very encouraging.

Industry comparable-store sales came in at a 0.4-percent dip and traffic came in at a 3.0-percent decline. This follows April's positive 1.4-percent increase in comparable sales and 2.1-percent decrease in traffic.

So what does this mean for our industry?

Let's start with the long-standing premise that meeting the benchmark was, at a minimum, a good thing since coming out of the Great Recession’s trail of negative months and quarters.





But I would venture to say that every good executive in our member base, which we track for these monthly results, is intent on being above average. When the averages are negative to flat, the achievement of average just isn't good enough -- It will not help rebuild and effectively grow a brand.

At Black Box Intelligence and People Report we are focused on top quartile performance as a way to judge opportunities and best practices. So rather than dwell on the obvious, let's explore some of the uplifting information we can share.

The top quartile of our reporters in same-store sales average a 5.4-percent increase, year-to-date, over the results of the bottom quartile. Traffic results are approximately the same for most months this year.

The spread from best to worst companies is even more dramatic.

The top quartile is made up of brands from casual dining, family dining, upscale casual and fast casual, and while Black Box Intelligence doesn't currently receive or track weekly data from quick service, that segment looks the same from what I see in public reports. I believe this shoots holes in the theory that one segment is blessed and another is cursed.

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