Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Gene E. Fusch


Failure to establish brand equity can adversely impact the sustainability of a business organization. Upscale full-service restaurant managers who fail to establish brand equity risk intricate assets to enhance shareholder value. Grounded in the brand equity theory, the purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore customer retention strategies upscale full-service restaurant managers use to improve brand equity. The participants included 3 senior-level managers in 3 upscale full-service restaurants in the southeastern United States who successfully developed customer retention strategies to improve brand equity. Data were collected using (a) semistructured interviews with member checking follow-up interviews, (b) direct observations, (c) reflective journal notes, and (d) company documents. Data analysis through methodological triangulation and thematic analysis revealed 4 themes related to increasing customer retention to improve brand equity: (a) brand differentiation through competitive advantage, (b) premium products and quality experiences, (c) employee engagement, and (d) word of mouth and online platforms. Managers of upscale full-service restaurants could increase customer retention and improve brand equity by implementing strategies related to exceptional cuisine, superior service, personalization, and employee engagement. The implications for positive social change include the potential to support the welfare of the local citizens and owners of upscale full-service restaurants across the southeastern United States by providing strategies necessary to increase customer retention, improve job sustainability, and encourage job creation.