The Public Likes You; They
Really Like You
For anyone working in the service sector, customer satisfaction is job one. And, according to a recent Gallup poll, this particular industry is doing a very good job. Based on a national telephone survey, the restaurant industry, along with the computer industry, is the most highly regarded business sector in the country when compared to 23 other business sectors.
This is not a huge revelation, though, because the restaurant industry held the number two rank in the same Gallup poll last year. The good news is that this industry has maintained and even slightly improved its public image.
Simply put, a majority of the public no longer thinks of you as merely burger flippers. Sixty-one percent of those polled had a positive opinion about the restaurant industry, while 28% were neutral and 8% had a negative opinion.
You glass-half-empty-types could ask yourself why only 61% have a positive opinion. But a better question is "How many positive and negative responses would I get if my customers ranked my business?" I would be willing to bet that many of you would score considerably better than sixty-one, while a bunch of you would not. In the end, what customers think of you and your restaurant matters more than what they think of this industry.
Nevertheless, the restaurant industry can hang its head high, certainly when compared to numerous other industries. Of the 24 surveyed, only five got positive ratings from more than half of those surveyed. Besides the restaurant and computer industries, a majority of the public likes the grocery, retail and farming/agriculture industries.
The public apparently has huge issues with the health care, legal, oil and pharmaceutical industries. Everyone who reads the newspaper can understand the public’s beef with these sectors. They can also understand why the accounting industry suffered the biggest decline in public image over the last year (thank you Arthur Andersen).
The restaurant industry is not bullet proof. Food safety issues make it particularly vulnerable. It would take only one instance of death from a restaurant food poisoning outbreak to damage the industry’s public image. But the National Restaurant Association is not standing idly by. It should be commended for its efforts in recent years to educate its members and the public about the importance of food safety. It should also be applauded for the astute public relations campaign it has implemented in the past few years to preserve and polish this industry’s image.
The NRA has nicely positioned this industry as one that contributes greatly to the fabric of American life. It has also made it clear that the industry is no patsy. Attempts by so-called public interest groups and lawsuit-crazy individuals to paint the restaurant industry as Public Health Enemy Number One are quickly and smartly countered. It’s crap and the public knows it. Let’s not forget that one-third of the adults in this country have worked in the restaurant industry. And, as the Gallup poll suggests, they and the rest of the public like you; they really like you.