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Operation Management

Operation management is concerned with the organization’s entire operations and does not focus its effort on a single management of a product or a certain service. Sandgate Hotel is a great hotel but poor management has led it to perform badly and is the cause of the hotel’s poor performance. Other operational challenges include incompetent services, substandard service levels and lack of food standards (Lowson 2006, p. 23). All this has resulted in lower customer retention and lower usage of the service. It is important for the hotel management to study the problem in-depth and come up with effective ways of rectifying the situation. There is a need to introduce strategic changes that will lead to significant improvement in the hotel’s operations. After Gordon Ramsay took over the hotel, he was able to transform it within six weeks. There were significant changes in the performance of the hotel after implementation of new strategic changes; the hotel is now a preferred choice with many clients. The paper addresses the operational and strategic changes undertaken to regain the hotel’s successful position.

Operations Management

Operation management focuses on design and management of a process, service, product and various chains of supply. It involves development, acquisition and utilization of the available resources necessary for delivery of products and services required by consumers (Greasley 2008, p. 145). Operation management is also referred to as effective and efficient running of an organization with the aim of attaining support and development of the organization’s strategic goals (Roy 2005, p. 7).  Operation management is concerned with design and operation of organizational systems for the purpose of production and service delivery. Although the concept of operation management can be viewed as being more applicable in the manufacturing industry, it is also very applicable in the service sector, with some aspects of operation management being tailored to serve certain organizations in the service industry.

According to Vidler (2001, p. 7), operation management is more focused on the management of production and distribution of products and services. A lot emphasis is placed on efficient and effective processes. Operation management includes a great deal of measuring and analyzing of internal processes in an organization. The products and services are what determines the operation management that will be carried out in an organization.

Sandgate Hotel operates in the hospitality industry, and thus it is involved in delivery of food, drinks and accommodation. One of the major factors that contributed to operational inefficiencies at the hotel included inept management which totally ignored aspects of basic operation management (Kumar and Suresh 2009, p. 14). Another challenge was limited knowledge on the management and running of a hotel operation by the managers and hotel owners. Overstaffing also played a role, since there were too many managers, supervisors and other support staff at the hotel.  Excessive employee numbers make the situation hard to control, since no one can take responsibility. The reception staff were unwelcoming to the customers who visited the hotel. Hotels all over the world are known for their hospitality. Therefore, the fact that the reception staff at Sandgate were being uncooperative led to a bad reputation for the hotel and discouraged repeat customers.

Another operational challenge was lack of clear job description for the staff. Responsibilities amongst individual staff were not well-defined, and neither were the roles of supervisors and managers. The hotel management had a lot of supervisory and managerial levels that led to lack of control and failure of the staff to assume responsibility for the challenges facing them. The service staff had little knowledge of what they were supposed to do, such as serving food, and it was the managers and supervisors who had to provide guidance. The hotel faced numerous challenges that were all due to poor operation management that hampered service delivery (Waller 2003, p. 89)

In order to measure the performance objective at Sandgate Hotel, there are five key benchmarks that are instrumental in assessing the operation management policies. They include cost, dependability, flexibility, speed and finally quality (Young 2009, p. 202). By reducing costs the hotel management would be able to maintain proper standards and quality, as well as make the organization competitive. Sandgate had a lot of staff, which made them increase prices of their products and services in order to meet the high costs. Materials and labor costs are a huge contributor to the overall cost of production in an organization. Another challenge that Sandgate Hotel was facing was the variety of food they were offering. There were more than 168 dishes on the menu, which further contributed to high prices. As far as speed is concerned, the effectiveness of a restaurant today is measured by the number of customers, or covers, that the hotel serves a day. The number of covers served is directly proportional to the speed of the service staff. The hotel had poor communication among staff members and no clear hierarchical order among the managers. The slow service had an impact on the number of covers that the restaurant could serve per day (Bettley et al. 2005, p.105-106).  

Flexibility is a key aspect to a restaurant, especially if it has to perform effectively. For instance, the clients of Sandgate Hotel were not offered drinks at the restaurant, but only at the bar. House specialties, such as Japanese dishes, were only served in the Japanese restaurant and were not available at the fine dining restaurant. The rigidity was not good to the customers as they are receptive to some form of flexibility. As far as quality is concerned, it is crucial that a hotel or any other business organization strive to achieve the highest level of quality, and maintain this level of quality. There is a need for consistency when it comes to the quality of food and services offered by a restaurant. At Sandgate Hotel, there were several cases of bad food quality caused by poor work of the chefs. That contributed to inconsistent quality of food and led to complaints from customers. Shortcomings that will in any way affect the quality of food should never be tolerated.  There is a need for food quality and hygiene policy that all the staff should follow. As regards dependability, services should be dependable to all, and this is ensured by staff members who have certain responsibilities (Reid 2010, p. 142). The management should be able to rely on the staff for the smooth running of all hotel operations. There is no staff at the hotel ready to take responsibility for anything, and thus there is always shifting of blame. For proper management of operations the staff will require job descriptions that are clear, not in any way vague or devoid of any overlapping roles.

Sandgate Hotel was facing a plethora of problems, which actually led to a downward trend in terms of profits. Gordon Ramsey came in the nick of time to save the once reputable hotel. He introduced well-crafted strategic changes which reversed the fortunes of the struggling hotel. In a matter of weeks, the hotel experienced maximized profits and succeeded in building a name to the public (Bicheno 1997, p. 108). Gordon came up with different kind of changes and strategies to counter the downward trend. One of the strategies and measures employed was to ensure at all times that the proprietors of the business were always physically present to welcome the guests. The customers were the main reason why the business existed, and sitting behind the desk was not good enough. The customers would feel special and welcome to the place. Having senior executives welcome you was deemed a special occasion, and the customers felt a sense of belonging. They would feel that their presence was recognized and appreciated. This ensured that customer acquisition and customer retention targets were being achieved.

Gordon was also of the opinion that a needs assessment of the customer’s needs was to be carried out. This primarily concerned the dishes on the menu, since some customers would order delicacies which were not readily available, or which would be tough for the kitchen staff to prepare. It was also imperative to hire professionals who would be competent and knowledgeable about the dishes that were ordered. This would ensure high standards and quality food that would retain and attract more customers to the outlet (Stevenson 2005, p. 65).

Communication was also a factor that needed be addressed immediately. There were cases when due to technical hitches the intercom system would fail and there was misunderstanding as to what was ordered. It was also vital to ensure that there was a local at the customer or front desk who would interact freely with the customers. He emphasized the need to observe hygiene in the cooking area, as well as importance of ensuring that the guests felt in a habitable area. Gordon realized that in terms of professionalism there was not much difference between those who were in high levels of management and those who were just regular employees.

A high level of discipline was to be maintained by the staff, especially when dealing with guests. There was a tendency to make merry by drinking on the premises by the staff, and it was proposed that it be stopped at once (Shim and Siegel 1999, p. 77). Some of the guests were angered by this, and some even contemplated leaving the hotel. The guests’ needs were to come first at all times and in all cases. The head chef who played a very vital role in the hotel was required to come up with a new menu that would appeal to everyone’s taste. Gordon proposed that they come up with a fresh fish outlet beside the sea. A hotel in France ought to have delicacies with a French flavor.

Gordon suggested the staff to be more innovative and come up with an annual event or events that would attract customers to the hotel. Oyster-eating competitions would be a perfect way to bring the English and French together. A department was to be formed to ensure that creative ideas were submitted on how to market the hotel. For example, the hotel would become reputable and a venue for special events if WOM was used. Being flexible in the process of serving desirable drinks for the guests would also aid in changing the fortunes of the hotel. Having strict rules and guidelines in place would only lead to a shrinking customer base.

Gordon was also of the opinion that a speedy service would bring more customers in, since most people hate waiting for long periods of time. Speedy service would ensure that customers flock in great numbers. He, therefore, ordered that the staff be issued individual buzzers to be informed on the spot whether the dishes they ordered from the chef were ready. It was also vital to motivate the staff to avoid dramas in front of the guests. In a span of six weeks, the hotel was once again blossoming, and things were slowly getting back to normal. Sandgate Hotel’s turnover was increasing again.

Strategic Importance of Operation Management at Sandgate Hotel

The management at the hotel had to maintain and always observe these counter strategies to avoid a slope again. The hotel industry is very competitive, and to stay profitable requires commitment and dedication. The objectives of the hotel have to be clear to all (Schroeder 2011, p.3). The success of a hotel involves all the staff, and each member must be made to feel part and parcel of the process. The strategies are necessary for formulating clear guidelines on how the hotel can be successful. The institution should not compete or revolve around a single dimension of factors to do with delivery of services or quality services. They must be provided harmoniously for the benefit of the business. The implementation of the prescribed strategies should be done by a competent and reputable personality, especially if it on recovery. The management should be conversant with customer needs which dictate the kind of menu to be set. The demand and cost issues should be well-researched by the operations management to ensure that the hotel yields a high turnover. The menu prices should be determined by the level of demand attracted.

Sandgate Hotel is situated in a prime and ideal location. The staff is dedicated, and the chefs are very competent. The management has ensured that the necessary resources are available. The proprietors only lack the formal knowledge on how to make their business successful. If the aforementioned strategies are implemented properly by a competent leader, it would lead to an increased turnover and immediate success. Changes in consumer preferences necessitate one to be creative and innovative (Barnes 2008, P. 64).

To fill in the gaps and ensure further improvements, it is vitally important for the management to realize that only customer-oriented organizations can survive in this industry. It is paramount to have an excellent cuisine and hire competent staff. Reasonable prices, hygienic standards and reliable customer relations are the key components of a successful business. With changing technologies, the management should keep this in mind to ensure services are made easier (Pycraft 2000, p. 59). This applies to such areas as order-taking, catering and reservations. Trainings should be conducted for the staff at all times to ensure professionalism. When one is surrounded by people who love their job and have the necessary skills, there is no room for failure and success is bound to be achieved. The need to motivate one’s staff through incentives and annual packages is vital. This will make them have a sense of belonging, and make them view themselves not only as mere employees but also as part of the hotel. Meetings should be a common occurrence in this industry to promote cohesiveness. Physical meetings are also the most efficient form of communication.