Chili’s Grill & Bar and Applebee’s are two of the most well-known casual dining establishments in the United States.  Chili’s operates more than 1,400 locations around the country. Applebee’s operates approximately 2,000 locations, primarily in the United States.

While both businesses compete in the casual-dining market, Chili’s has been the earlier adopter in experimenting with check-in related programs.  For example, Chili’s has rolled out a national program across its’ locations that rewards guests with a free Chips & Salsa for every Foursquare check-in.

When it comes to check-ins, will Chili’s recent Foursquare promotions help it gain a leg up on the competition, or will Applebee’s larger store-base help it lead the check-in race?

Total Check-Ins: The number of check-ins that each brand has received across all its venues.

Chili’s: 618,102

Applebee’s: 338,907

Despite having nearly 600 fewer venues than Applebee’s, Chili’s has generated nearly twice as many check-ins as Applebee’s.  At first glance, it appears that Chili’s Foursquare promotion has helped it generate more customer visits and check-ins.

Total People: The total number of people that have checked-in.  Unique people will be fewer than total check-ins, as people may check-in more than once at a location.

Chili’s: 377,766

Applebee’s: 200,108

Chili’s again has nearly twice as many people that have checked-in as Applebee’s.  Again, this is unusual, as Applebee’s has nearly 600 more locations, leading one to believe that Applebee’s would have more people check-ing in.

Looking at check-ins per user will provide some context around just how popular these venues are.  By dividing Total Check-ins by Total People, we can learn about each brand’s customer loyalty.  (Higher is better.)

Chili’s: 1.64

Applebee’s: 1.69

Based on check-ins, Applebee’s has slightly better customer loyalty.  The average Applebee’s customer has checked-in 1.69 times, while the average Chili’s customer has checked-in 1.64 times.

Customer Overlap

Using detailed check-in analysis, we can also compare each brand’s customer and determine the overlap in their customer bases.

Chili’s: 11.3%

Applebee’s: 14.8%

There is strong customer overlap in these brands – perhaps stronger than any other two brands we’ve ever seen. More than 11 percent of people that have checked-in at Chili’s have also checked-in at Applebee’s, and more than 14% of people that have checked-in at Applebee’s have checked-in at Chili’s.  Both restaurants are high-frequency venues, and we are seeing very little preference among customers to visit Applebee’s over Chili’s and vice-versa.  Perhaps the core difference is that Chili’s encourage guests to check-in, while Applebee’s does not.

Finally, let’s take a look at average Social Influence, which is an indicator of how influential a brand’s customers are in the social web.  (Max score is 10.)

Chili’s: 1.8

Applebee’s: 1.8

Both brands’ customers carry the same social influence, which speaks to the amount of Customer Overlap between the two brands. Additionally, neither brands’ customers are particularly influential on the social web.  A score of 1.8 is about average.

Check-Ins by Day

PlacePunch also analyzes check-in traffic, enabling brands to understand when customers check-in.

Both Chili’s and Applebee’s see significant increases in check-ins on Friday and Saturday, as expected. There’s really no core difference in the check-in traffic for either brand. They both also see similar hourly check-in traffic.  It does appear that either brand could differentiate itself by driving more traffic during lunch-time hours.  Perhaps offering a special “check-in” special during lunch-time could help drive more traffic.

Closing Thoughts
Chili’s has generated nearly twice as many check-ins as Applebee’s, despite having 60 fewer locations. Chili’s willingness to experiment with Foursquare through its free Chips and Salsa promotion appear to be working.

What else? What could Applebee’s do to generate more check-ins? Should Applebee’s create a Foursquare check-in special or try something else?  Let us know what you think in the comments.