A special report from Womply Research

How do online reviews impact revenue for quick serve food and beverage businesses?

If you've read our full report, you've already got a sense for just how important review sites are for local businesses. But what about local quick serve food and beverage businesses like coffee shops, cafes, delis, frozen yogurt shops, juice shops, and the like?

Are reviews more (or less) influential on revenue for local quick serve businesses than other types of local businesses?

Impact of Reviews on Revenue page masthead graphic. A special report from Womply Research.

To understand the correlation between reviews and revenue for quick serve businesses, Womply's data science team conducted an in-depth analysis of transactions and online review data for more than 4,700 quick serve businesses in every state.

Key findings include

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Local quick serve businesses that claim their free listings on 3 or more review sites earn 13% more revenue

Quick serve businesses that don't reply to any reviews earn 8% less revenue

4.5 to 5-star rated quick businesses serve earn below-average revenue—the sweet spot is 3.5 to 4.5 stars

Quick serve businesses with more than the average number of reviews bring in 44% more in annual revenue

Quick serve businesses whose total number of reviews are 25-35% negative earn 27% more annual revenue than those whose reviews are 5-10% negative

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

Claiming free listings

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Quick serve food and beverage businesses that claim their listing on multiple review sites make more money

Key findings include

Quick serve businesses that claim their free listings on 3 review sites or more earn 13% more revenue

Quick serve businesses that don't claim their listing on any review sites earn 17% less revenue

22% of quick serve food and beverage businesses haven't claimed a single listing

Google is the most important review site for local quick serve businesses to claim their listing

The average annual revenue across all quick serve businesses in our study was $264,000. As with all business in our study, we wanted to start our analysis on the importance of review sites on revenue at quick serve businesses by first focusing on simple acts like claiming your free profile on prominent review sites.

As you can see above, claiming listings is extremely important for quick serve food and beverage businesses. Those who don't claim their profile on one of the major listing sites earn 17% less revenue than the average quick serve food and beverage business in our study.

Quick serve shops who claim just one listing earn near average revenue, and things change rapidly the more review sites local quick serve businesses claim.

When quick serve businesses claim their free listing on review sites, they can reply to reviews, add helpful information about their business, and plenty of other things that clearly make an impact on potential patrons.

To see how much of an impact this might make on revenue for quick serve businesses, look at the results this way—those who follow the simple practice of claiming their free listing on three or more of the major review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc.) earn $33,000 more each year than those that don't claim any.

More customers use Google Maps to look for a coffee or a quick bite to eat than any other review platform, which is likely why claiming (or not claiming) a Google listing results in the largest impact on revenue for quick serve businesses.

No matter which way you look at it, though, quick serve businesses should be claiming their business listing on every relevant review site. Quick serve businesses who don't claim any one of the three major review sites earn far less than average.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Replying to reviews

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People spend more money at local quick serve businesses that reply to reviews

Key findings include

68% of quick serve businesses don't respond to any reviews

Quick serve businesses that respond to 1% to 25% of their reviews earn 20% more than average

Quick serve businesses that don't reply to any reviews earn 8% less in annual revenue

Quick serve businesses that respond to even just one review earn 7% more than average

It's clearly important for quick serve businesses to claim their listings on as many review sites as possible, but they should also focus on engaging their customers via reviews.

68% of quick serve businesses in our study hadn't responded to even a single review, which goes to show just how few businesses are taking advantage of this beneficial practice.

Let's see how responding to reviews impacts revenue for local quick serve businesses.

As you can see above, quick serve businesses who don't respond to reviews earn 8% less than average, while those who responded to even just one review earn 7% more than average. This shows a little goes a long way when it goes to engaging with customers online.

Quick serve businesses who responded on a more regular basis, up to 25% of the time, earn 20% more than average. However, as reply rate climbs to more than 25%, revenue dips slightly.

This is likely because quick serve businesses with a large number of total reviews may be more popular and established, and may be likely to earn more money than average. However, they may also be more likely to have a much lower review response percentage.

This becomes clear when you look at revenue by total number of review responses:

Quick serve businesses that respond to at least 1 review respond to a total of 26 reviews on average.

Again, even quick serve businesses that respond to just one review earn 7% more than average, but you can see the averages climb as a quick serve business responds to reviews.

By the time you get to quick serve businesses who reply to more than 100 reviews, they are earning an astounding $113,000 more each year than average.

When it comes to responding to reviews, it's clear that quick serve businesses should focus primarily on giving genuine responses to both negative and positive reviews.

As we'll explain in the sections below, getting more reviews is clearly important, but staying engaged with customers in a genuine way can make a real difference.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Star ratings

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How much does star rating impact revenue for quick serve businesses?

Key findings include

Quick serve businesses with a rating between 3.5 and 4.5 stars earn the most revenue

5-star quick serve businesses earn 42% less than the average

Quick serve businesses with a 3.5 to 4-star rating earn 26% more than average

Only 3% of quick serve businesses have lower than a 3-star rating

Now that we've discussed things that a quick serve business owner can control when it comes to review sites, let's examine the effects of the reviews themselves. We'll begin with what many quick serve business owners consider the most important part of their online presence—their overall star rating.

The chart below illustrates how much the average star rating matters to revenue at quick serve businesses.

As you can see, quick serve businesses appear to be far less sensitive to negative ratings than businesses in other industries. Quick serve businesses with a star rating of 2.9 or lower actually earn 4% more than average. It's important to note, however, that only 3% of the food and beverage businesses in our analysis fall into this category.

The ideal star rating range for quick serve food and beverage businesses is between 3.0 and 4.5. Quick serve places with a star rating between 3.5 and 4.0 earn by far the most—26% more than the average quick serve business.

Interestingly, the most positively-reviewed quick serve businesses actually earn the least. Those with a perfect 5-star rating earn a shocking 42% less than average.

Once again, our hypothesis here is that perfectly-rated quick serve businesses have far fewer reviews, are less established, or may be guilty of disreputable practices like paying for fake reviews.

93% of quick serve food and beverage businesses have a star rating between 3.0 and 4.9 stars, which suggests that customers browsing online review sites consider many factors in order to choose between several similarly-rated quick serve businesses.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Number of reviews

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How much does the number of reviews matter for quick serve businesses?

Key findings include

Quick serve food and beverage places with more than 184 total reviews earn 44% more in annual revenue than average

Quick serve businesses with fewer than 184 total reviews earn 18% less in revenue than average

Locations with 600 reviews or more earn 55% more than the average

An above-average number of reviews on Google has the largest positive impact on revenue of all review sites

Quick serve business owners often stress about their star rating, but as we explain in the section above, chasing a perfect star rating probably isn't the best way to increase revenue.

On the other hand, our findings suggest that quick serve business owners should perhaps focus much more on increasing their number of reviews than almost anything else.

Quick serve businesses in our analysis average a combined 184 reviews per business across all review sites. This is more than twice the number of reviews for the average business across all industries, suggesting that a large number of reviews may be more important for quick serve businesses than other types of businesses.

We analyzed revenue at quick serve businesses whose review counts fall above and below that average 184-review threshold.

As suspected, total number of reviews is definitely quite important for local quick serve businesses.

Those who have more than the average 184 reviews earn a substantial 44% more in annual revenue than the average quick serve business.

Those with fewer than the average total number of reviews, meanwhile, earn 18% less.

Looking closer at the numbers helps further clarify the relationship between the number of reviews and average revenue for local quick serve businesses.

Quick serve businesses with fewer than 50 reviews earn a 30% less than average, and those with up to 100 reviews didn't earn much more. Once quick serve businesses get into the 100 to 184-review range is when revenue starts to climb above the average.

Then, as you can see, the more reviews a quick serve business gets, the more money they earn.

Average revenue jumps all the way to a 32% increase when you get to the 184-300 review range, and climbs even higher from there. To punctuate how important a lot of reviews can be for quick serve food and beverage places, those with more than 500 reviews earn a substantial $166,000 more than average.

This strongly suggests that when a customer searches online for a place to grab a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat, a large number of reviews may outweigh a high star rating.

Once again Google is clearly the most important review site for quick serve businesses, as those with an above-average review count on the site earn 42% more than average—far more than the boost from any other review site.

But still, local quick serve businesses would be smart to get as many reviews on as many sites as possible. Some bar owners worry that pushing for reviews may expose them to getting more bad reviews, but as we'll explain in a section below, bad reviews can actually be a good thing.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Fresh vs stale reviews

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Fresh reviews are crucial for quick serve businesses

Key findings include

Quick serve businesses average 19.3 fresh reviews (posted in the last 90 days)

Locations with more than 19 fresh reviews earn 44% more than average

Quick serve businesses with less than 19 fresh reviews earn 20% less than average

Quick serve businesses with 60 or more fresh reviews earn 74% more than average

The number of reviews a quick serve business has on review sites is clearly important, but how important is the "freshness" of those reviews?

The average total number of fresh reviews, (defined as reviews posted within the past 90 days) per quick serve business in our analysis was 19.3. This is over twice as many as the average across all industries, continuing the trend of quick serve businesses receiving more consistent reviews than some other businesses.

To see how much fresh reviews affect a quick serve place's revenue, we analyzed shops that had received fewer or greater than 19 reviews in the past 90 days.

As you can see above, getting new reviews is just as important for quick serve businesses as amassing a lot of total reviews.

Quick serve businesses who don't bring in any fresh reviews in the past 90 days earn 23% less revenue than average.Getting more than the average number of new reviews, on the other hand, correlates with a hefty 57% increase in revenue!

A closer look shows just how important fresh reviews can be for quick serve businesses. Quick serve businesses with just 1 to 10 fresh reviews actually earn slightly less than those with no fresh reviews. Quick serve businesses that get closer to the average number of fresh reviews, meanwhile, earn much closer to the average quick serve business.

From there, you can see how quickly average annual revenue grows as quick serve businesses amass more fresh reviews. By the time you get to quick serve businesses who have more than 60 fresh reviews, annual revenue is 75% more than average.

Put another way, getting just 20 new reviews per month correlates with an extra $197,000 each year for local quick serve businesses.

The takeaway is that quick serve businesses should focus on getting a steady stream of real, recent reviews rather than trying to chase a perfect star rating. And, even a handful of fresh reviews clearly holds more weight than rave reviews from a couple years ago.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Impact of negative reviews

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Customers expect to see negative reviews for quick serve businesses

Key findings include

21% of the average quick serve businesses's reviews are negative

Quick serve businesses whose reviews are 25 to 35% negative earn 25% more than average

Quick serve businesses whose reviews are 0 to 5% negative earn 40% less than average

Quick serve businesses whose reviews are 75 to 100% negative still earn more than average

It's clearly important to get a steady stream of fresh reviews, but how important is the ratio of positive to negative reviews?

On average, 21% of the reviews posted about a given quick serve business were negative. This puts quick serve businesses right at the average negative review rate across all industries.

Does this mean revenue at quick serve businesses is more or less impacted by a large number of negative reviews? Let's find out.

As the charts above reveal, quick serve businesses aren't severely impacted by a large number of negative reviews.

As with other industries, quick serve businesses with a healthy mix of good and bad reviews earn the most on average. The ideal spot is a negative review rate between 20 and 50%, with quick serve businesses whose reviews are 25 to 35% negative earning 25% more than average.

Surprisingly, even quick serve businesses whose reviews were 75 to 100% negative earn more than average. Now, this is quite likely due to a variety of unrelated factors such as the type of quick serve businesses who fall in that sample size, and we wouldn't claim a 75 to 100% negative review rate to be ideal for any business.

However, when customers browse quick serve business listings on review sites, they likely expect to see some negative reviews. In fact, many customers actively seek out negative reviews first, and a business with little or no negative reviews might appear untested or even a little "too good to be true."

Our takeaway: quick serve businesses that focus on getting as many real and authentic reviews as possible reap the rewards.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Kindest and harshest states for reviews

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Where in the U.S. are consumers kindest (and harshest) to quick serve businesses in reviews?

Next we analyzed online reviews at a state-by-state level to see which parts of the country are kindest (and harshest) in their reviews of local quick serve businesses.

*Note: There was insufficient data for quick serve businesses in the following states: Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

rank state positive review rate
FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MD MA DC

Quick serve businesses in Arkansas and New Mexico were the best-reviewed in the country, averaging a positive review rate of 86%. Maine and Idaho fall close behind with positive review rates of 85%.

Quick serve businesses across the country are generally well-reviewed, however. At 66%, North Dakota is the only state where quick serve businesses average a positive review rate below 70%.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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States best at managing online presence

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Where in the U.S. are quick serve businesses the best at managing their online presence?

Next we looked at which states' quick serve businesses were the best at managing their online presence. We started by analyzing the percentage of quick serve businesses in each state that had claimed at least one review site listing.

*Note: There was insufficient data for quick serve businesses in the following states: Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

rank state claimed at least one listing
FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MD MA DC

96% of North Dakota's quick serve businesses have claimed at least 1 review site listing, which was good for the top of our list. Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Iowa also had over 90% of their quick serve businesses claim at least 1 review site listing.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 57% of the quick serve businesses in our analysis from Alaska have claimed a single listing, putting them at the bottom of the list.

Lastly, we looked at how frequently quick serve businesses in each state responded to reviews.

rank state responded to at least one review
FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MD MA DC

North Dakota quick serve businesses were also the most engaged, with 70% of local quick serve businesses responding to at least one review. Hawaii came in second with 63%, and Minnesota, Arizona, and Wyoming all had over 50% of their quick serve businesses respond to at least one review.

Montana quick serve businesses were the least engaged, as only 9% of the quick serve businesses in our study from Big Sky Country responded to at least one review.

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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Conclusion

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Conclusion

In the digital age, online reviews are the new word of mouth. Local quick serve food and beverage businesses that engage customers online perform better financially than those that don't.

Specifically, local quick serve businesses experience the best revenue performance when they:

  • Claim all their free business listings on relevant review sites
  • Are actively responsive to customer feedback posted on review sites
  • Get and maintain a star rating between 3.5 and 4.5 on key review sites
  • Receive a steady flow of authentic reviews from real customers
  • Have a trustworthy review profile, comprised of about 20-35% negative reviews

Go deeper by reading our analysis for businesses in a different industry.

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