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Operations Management Essay

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1. How should quality be defined at this restaurant? Outline which quality tools you would use to assess the situation at The Raja’s restaurant.

Quality of service is the most important aspect to a customer. The concept of quality can be defined in various ways. By definition “Quality is consistent conformance to customers’ expectations” (Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2004). Each customer has expectations of different quality standards and quality service.

In The Raja Tandoori restaurant quality has been declining recently. An example of this is patrons have to wait as long as 45 minutes to be seated, in addition to this it can up to 40 minutes more to get a good meal served to the table.

The dimensions of service quality are reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangible factors (James A. Fitzsimmons et al, 2004). The customer survey results indicate that 87% of customers believe the quality of food at the restaurant is excellent. Also, the dining experience is very good; being represented by 81% of customers. However, 78% of customers have expressed that they found the waiter to be only at satisfactory standards, this is likely to be due by the lack of staff experience. 70% of customer responses showed that they were served within a reasonable time. The 30% could be justified due to the poor quality of ingredients being delivered; restricting the chef in meal preparations. (See appendix 1 for workings).

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However, there are some good aspects such as the variety of food, waiters are always available and on the look for any requests, there is also the additional service of hot flannels are being brought to refresh diners.

Many quality tools can be used to assess the situation at The Raja’s restaurant. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a way to approach “the organisation of quality improvements” (Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2004). TQM is a process of involving everyone in an organisation in continuously improving products and processes to achieve on every occasion; quality that satisfies customers needs (John Naylor, 2002).

“It seeks to integrate all organizational functions…to focus on meeting customer needs” (http://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c031008a.asp).

TQM was introduced by Feigenbaum (1957) and developed further by Deming, Ishikawa, Taguchi and Crosby.

W. Edwards Deming (1950’s) introduced 14 points for quality improvement. He wanted to focus on the product instead of the process. Continuous Improvement (CI) emphasises quality and reduces cost. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle (see appendix 2) is important in inspecting quality in one stage of the quality improvement process. The owner of The Raja restaurant can emphasise the importance of quality by having better teamwork skills and more employee involvement that can ultimately lead to a quality service.

Kaoru Ishikawa developed quality circles which imply on the importance of group roles in working and learning. Teams of 3-5 members can be set up at the restaurant; their aim is to identify the causes of quality failure. Each team could focus on a certain aspect such as the quality of food or service.

To assess problems of quality at the restaurant cause-and-effect diagrams (fishbone diagrams) can be used. This can help find the cause of problems by working backwards to find a possible cause of a quality problem. Below is a cause-effect-diagram for the effect of the poor service at the restaurant.

TQM has an emphasis on meeting customer expectations; the Raja restaurant needs to establish this in order for it to be successful. At peak times customer meals should be prepared within the typical time limit of 25 minutes instead of 40 minutes. The variety of food that is made available to customers also needs to be considered, the wider the variety made available may ultimately attract more customers. There have also been delays in clearing tables this ultimately leads to delays in seating people. All these problems result in poor quality of service. The central foundation of the restaurant is based on customers, it is customer based service, hence the importance of improving quality.

Errors that emerge from the service of the restaurant lead to inefficiency and this in turn results in poor service to customers. As the cook mainly controls the quality of the food it is essential that all ingredients are available, recently the purchase of ingredients for the restaurant have not been good enough. The lettuce has appeared wilted and the tough chicken has had more meat than bones.

This has ultimately led to certain dishes not being made available. It needs to be established that each individual operation contributes to the overall success of the restaurant. Requirements of customers and the restaurant itself need to be defined for example the quality and speed of service and what customer expectations are. Mystery shoppers can be used at peak times to find out exactly how service needs to be improved.

Each individual contributes to quality; therefore each person has the ability to improve quality. Members of staff need to be given empowerment to make suggestions. All staff should be involved in the improvement of performance in the restaurant; this can lead to a better team.

The benefits of empowerment are:

* Better customer service

* Satisfied customers

* Employees feel more secure about the job

* Promotes ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising and customer loyalty

The costs of quality are prevention, appraisal, internal and external failure costs (see appendix 3). It is essential to train and develop employee skills to suit the requirements of the restaurant. Identify problems and correct them before they have occurred. Negotiate with suppliers to improve the quality of ingredients. The ultimate goal is to increase quality of service in the restaurant, once this is achieved costs will fall.

A quality strategy needs to be implemented into the Raja restaurant to provide long-term goals which are relevant to the restaurants aim. This can be achieved by implementing groups, such as quality circles and setting certain tasks and aims. Training employees is another strategy this could focus on eliminating errors and improving quality.

2. How would you improve the service experience for customers of the Raja?

Following the definitions quality is a very important issue that needs to be taken into consideration for every movement that a business does, nevertheless there is also design, layout and production to be considered, is having this in mind that we overlooked at Raja’s situation.

To keep up with new business and competitors you need to innovate, differentiate, create something special and unique, a customer that has an experience is likely to return and therefore be loyal to your business as well as recommend it to others.

The Raja’s Restaurant needs to be re-modernised, the old wall paper should be scrapped and in its place should be something more welcoming and pleasing, giving the feel of a calm and clean environment.

The layout should also be changed making a separate entrance between the dining in customers and those who just want to take the food away, one type of customer should not interfere with the other so a distinction should be made clearly.

There is even the possibility of expanding the business and introducing a take-away menu where customers could place orders over the phone and have it delivered to their address that would leave even more space for customers who prefer dining in and would also increase customer numbers.

Whilst many customers may enjoy listening to the radio, many others may not, it will be good to have a mixture of music, compiling a good CD collection as well as the traditional radio station, and this is likely to please almost everyone as it gives a feel of a balanced environment.

Use the free parking as an advantage and make customers aware of this facility, especially on Fridays and Saturdays nights when high streets are crowded with people going to different places and parking space is limited.

The Raja needs concentrate on its service speed, customers don’t like waiting and if the waiting is long they might find it easy going elsewhere, to make sure quality issues are resolved they need to reduce waiting time, focusing especially over weekends when demand is higher.

In order to do that waiters should not have to help in the kitchen, fetching food, be involved in any form of food preparation or do any food sequencing for the chef. More kitchen staff needs to be employed, employing more staff will mean higher costs but it will also mean higher turn over of tables.

Having more kitchen staff also means you can have more food variety and new dishes can be introduced, a new menu can be designed following seasons variations, this should prevent customers from being bored and keep coming back to try new things.

As we expect the number of customers to grow we need to also plan for more waiters to be working on the waiting area, service should always be at high standard and customers should never have to ask for anything. Making sure there is good quality service means people will feel satisfied and return more often.

Cost reduction is another important issue, if your ingredients are expensive your food will be expensive and it will attract fewer people, working with a single supplier that can provide good quality ingredients, fresh and reliable goods will automatically reduce cooking time, speeding up the process, also bulk buying is cheaper and a deal can be negotiated for ingredients that are bought more often.

Big suppliers can also deliver, that should save even more time so management can focus on planning and improving other things, such as appraising staff and overlooking problems.

Proper training should be provided to all members of staff; everyone should comply with the Health Safety Regulations for food and always maintain standards, the working environment should always be clean and well maintain, this will not only make working easier but will also show an improvement on the visual aspect.

All staff should be properly dressed for their functions and always make sure they are running their tasks smoothly.

Managers should concentrate in individual performances as well as team performances, having a good and healthy work environment will motivate employees and customers will notice it.

After introducing this big transformation, if performance is still low promotional schemes can be created to bring customers back, a loyalty card with a discount percentage is likely to attract many people and give them the impression they are getting another advantage here that they can’t have elsewhere.

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