Panera has the best rep in the chain restaurant business, according to a recent survey.
Consulting firm Reputation Institute released the results of its 2015 survey of America's most reputable hospitality companies last week, with Panera leading the way. The fast-casual chain was the only company to achieve an "excellent" reputation, based on more than 50,000 interviews of 27,000 people.
Panera was followed by Dunkin' Brands and Subway. The top 10 restaurants with the best reputations in the industry also included companies as varied as Krispy Kreme (No. 4), Wendy's (No. 6) and Chipotle (No. 7).
A hospitality company's reputation is most influenced by two factors, according to the Reputation Institute: products and governance. While quality products seem like a no-brainer, entrepreneurs need to remember the importance of demonstrating to customers that a company is responsibly run.
Panera ranked No. 1 in both areas, standing out with transparent decisions such as releasing the "no-no list" of banned artificial ingredients the company is removing from the menu.
While the Reputation Institute declined to disclose the names of companies with uniquely poor reputations, the report did single out one restaurant chain in a reputation slump: McDonald's. While in 2014, around half of respondents said they would recommend or buy McDonald's food, the figures dropped to less than 40 percent in 2015. In the same period, global sales fell significantly -- a clear message on the importance of a company's reputation in financial realities.