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The growth in our industry is just mind-boggling when you think about it. According to the NRF, you and I now spend 49 cents of every food dollar on dining out. And that has translated into huge growth in the restaurant sector, nearly doubling in size since 2000. That should make us all feel great -- except when you peel back the covers and see some less rosy numbers. Take a look.

Market Force just completed its annual survey of consumers to track industry trends, favorite chains and what consumers like or dislike. One of the sections I found most fascinating were the questions around new restaurant trial. The good news: New trial increased a whopping 59 percent over last year, growing from 17 percent of consumers trying a new restaurant in the 30 days they were surveyed up to 27 percent this year. The not so good news: Of those that tried a new restaurant, less than four in 10 were delighted. That means all that money that restaurants spent promoting themselves to get people through their doors, all the time invested hiring and training new people, and all that opportunity to sell more when they were there, were essentially wasted. Customers came in, but there's a good chance they won't come back.

Brands work so hard to get things right, but if they don't invest in the table stakes - measuring operational excellence (mystery shopping, internal audits), getting customer feedback (customer surveys, monitoring social media, supporting an effective call center), and training on what matters most to customers, so much of that effort is wasted.

What would your business be like if nine out of 10 of those customers were truly delighted?

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Janet Eden-Harris
Janet Eden-Harris is the CMO and SVP of Strategy for Market Force Information. She joined Market Force from J.D. Power and Associates, where she was VP of its Web Intelligence unit.
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