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The quality of services and operations is an essential component of a competitive strategy in a hospitality industry. However, ensuring high quality of services in a tourism industry can sometimes be complex as a result of differences in customers’ tastes and preferences. In the case of a restaurant, the management must always ensure that services and facilities are available at appropriate standards while at the same time high level of employees commitment would enhance comfort and satisfaction of visitors. Furthermore, a communication strategy will also be necessary for ensuring that customers maintain a good relationship with the restaurant during their visit and even after the visit. Given the significance of customer services in the hospitality industry, this paper explored how total quality management (TQM) processes impacts on the effectiveness of the business strategy of a restaurant.
The paper used a qualitative approach based on analysis of past literature on organization and quality management within the tourism industry. From the literature analysis, it was found that customer service was the most critical success factor in ensuring a tourism organization realized a competitive edge in its industry. The paper identified that enhancing service quality and career and talent development opportunities will help a tourism organization to sustain a competitive advantage. Furthermore, organization culture was found to be a major determinant of success within the tourism industry. In a nutshell, the researcher noted that communication, customer service, and employee involvement were crucial in ensuring the success of the firm in the tourism industry.
The hospitality industry is faced with increasing uncertainties in several parts of the globe due to social, political and economic challenges. Wang, Chen and Chen (2012, p. 120) highlighted that the decline in incomes of people, the economic growth slowdown in the developed world and political instability. Apart from the environmental challenges, the poor performance of some tourist organizations can also be attributed to internal factors poor such as service delivery, lack of employee commitment and poor customer service that has negatively impacted on the ability of some hotels to attract and retain customers. Furthermore, Basiony, El Sayed and Abdalla (2014) highlighted that tourist organization records reduced revenues as a result of lack of visitors and customer dissatisfaction. Customer dissatisfaction has been found to be caused by factors such as cleanliness, security, and safety of the travel destinations. This paper examines ways of enhancing the quality of restaurant services using Total Quality Management (TQM) approaches.
Hospitality industry currently faces a myriad of challenges. These challenges are either internal or external. One of the internal challenges within the industry is the high employee turnover attributed to seasonal hiring system and the temporary nature of the employment opportunities. Furthermore, employees are unlikely to stick around in this industry as there are always better opportunities in other industries (Montasser and Al Manhawy 2013, p. 7). In order to improve services and enhance the competitiveness of firms in the hospitality industry, the management must ensure that the organization strategy in place will be effective in enhancing employee commitment and retention as well as customer satisfaction. Ineffective organization strategies in most tourist organizations also result in poor performance of the organizations and reduced competitiveness. Some of the areas of organization strategy which are faced with several challenges within the industry include human resource strategy, leadership strategy and the culture of this organization (Yusof et al. 2012, p. 420).
Total quality management (TQM) framework is a quality management approach that was first used in manufacturing industries. However, TQM has been increasingly used in the service industries with considerable success. Basically, TQM can be described as a management approach that aims at realizing the organization’s objective of customer satisfaction through organization-wide improvement activities (Montasser and Al Manhawy 2013, p. 2). TQM approach therefore continuously improves the quality of all the processes, products and services offered by the organization. In this regard, TQM has the capacity to enhance the overall productivity, profitability, and sustainability of a restaurant thus making it more competitive. TQM is, therefore, an integrated management framework that requires the participation of all stakeholders of the organization to achieve tangible improvements in processes, products, services and the existing culture within the organization (Wang, Chen and Chen 2012, p. 11).
Unlike manufacturing industry, TQM framework within a service industry focuses on three main components of the organization’s strategy. These components include customers, employees and service delivery processes. A customer focused quality management aims at improving the quality of services offered to the customers to enhance customer retention rates and attract new customers (Milovanovic 2014, p. 118). Restaurants can improve the quality of customer service through employee training programs. Employees can be trained on issues such as customer service etiquette and best practices within the industry. In addition, communication is essential in delivering services to customers. Effective communication can considerably impact on the quality of customer service. Apart from enhancing customer satisfaction, effective communication processes within the organization also improve morale and motivation of customers thus enhancing their commitment and productivity.
Total employee involvement is another important component of TQM. Organizations must strive to create a culture that would inspire the employees to work towards the realization of a shared vision and common purpose of the organization. Nestoroska and Petrovska (2014, p. 9) indicated that through training of staff members and empowerment the management will be able to create a work place environment conducive for employee creativity and innovation. Within a restaurant, there are always no prescribed ways of doing certain things as customers’ tastes and preferences differ from one customer to the next. To satisfy these unique and different tastes and preferences, employees should be empowered to be flexible and with the right attitude in dealing with various customers. According to Milovanovic (2014, p. 122), the flexibility of employees in a service industry is one of the most critical sources of attaining operational excellence and sustaining competitive advantage within the industry. Elsewhere, evaluating the performance of the organization is the only way of determining the effectiveness of the measures put in place by the management towards the realization of the organization’s goals and objectives.
In the tourism or hospitality industry, the management must ensure that there sufficient tools that can be used to evaluate tourist satisfaction. One of the commonly used models in the evaluation of tourists’ satisfaction is SERVQUAL model. This model encompasses five elements of service quality i.e. tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy (Yusof et al. 2012, p. 422). The tangibility of a service refers to the tangible elements used in service delivery such as hotel facilities, workforce presentation and communication materials. Reliability of hotel services is the ability of the hotel to provide the service in an exact manner as the pledge. On the other hand, staff dedication and commitment in delivering their assigned tasks is referred to as responsiveness while assurance implies understanding and courtesy of the restaurant staff. Lastly, empathy refers to the ability of the customers to be considerate and thoughtful of other guests. Evaluating the performance based on the variables will help the management to effectively understand whether the restaurant is on the wrong path and if there is a need for adjustments or the restaurant is progressing as expected (Yassin and Yavas 2008, p. 40).
The last component of TQM in hospitality or service industry is continuous improvement of various organization processes. Montasser and Al Manhawy (2013, p. 3) had highlighted that process improvements involve rethinking process designs, service delivery activities and customer service within the restaurant. Furthermore, process improvements focus on the tools and facilities that the restaurant uses to realize its objectives. Since customer satisfaction is the main objective of restaurants, the management, should be flexible to customize or personalize experiences of different visitors. Customers should be treated fairly and equally, but the organization must not assume that all customers are the same (Wang, Chen and Chen 2012, p. 7).
Hotel or restaurant must also strive to offer unique and exceptional services to every customer. Consistency is one of the factors that distinguish exceptional service from a good service. According to Yassin and Yavas (2008, p. 37) consistency of a restaurant, service refers to the ability of the restaurant to exactly similar service to two or more customers. In the case of a decline in quality of the service, the hotel manager should be able to detect the change and put in place appropriate actions towards the realization of the organization goal (Basiony, El Sayed and Abdalla 2014, p. 9). Regardless of the environmental pressures such as weather changes or poor economic conditions, the restaurant must not alter their services. To enhance consistency of service delivery, the restaurant can take advantage of the opportunities provided by the new social and professional realities as well as innovative technologies to support hotel efforts in ensuring unforgettable guest experience in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Customer satisfaction increases the profitability of the restaurant by enhancing customer retention. According to Milovanovic (2014, p. 118), TQM framework allows the restaurant to objectively measure the quality of customer services based on the assessment of different clients. For instance, TQM avails communication tools that make it possible for the restaurant to maintain an interactive communication with the restaurant. Besides, the restaurant should adopt a policy of integrating staff and company performance in order to ensure staff members shared a common vision with the organization. By linking the actions of the staff to the hotel performance, the restaurant will be able to instill a sense of purpose among its employees (Nestoroska and Petrovska 2014, p. 19). In return, the enhance employee commitment will improve the experience for the guests as well as the restaurant revenues. The restaurant must also improve the pace of delivering guests’ requests and issues. The staff must, therefore, be sufficiently motivated to realize the goal of quick and efficient customer service.
Lastly, the effectiveness of TQM relies on critical success factors such as quality data and reporting, the role of top management and employee relations (Montasser and Al Manhawy 2013, p. 4). Other TQM success factors include training of employees and effective quality policy and process management as well as a strong organization culture (Milovanovic 2014, p. 119). Regarding organization culture, restaurants can only be able to realize their objectives and gain a competitive edge in the industry; the workers must work together towards the realization of a shared vision or objective. According to Nestoroska and Petrovska (2014, p. 8) enhancing the skills and knowledge of the employees creates a culture of commitment and innovation that would enhance the quality of services offered by the organization. That is, the restaurant and the customers will benefit from staff members who are committed to high quality of services as well effective delivery of their assigned tasks.
Customer satisfaction is the primary goal of all businesses. In the hotel industry, customer satisfaction will determine repeat visitation and thus profitability of the business. To enhance customer satisfaction, restaurants must improve the quality of their operations across all departments. This paper examined how total quality management (TQM) processes will impact on the business strategy of a restaurant. The business strategy of a restaurant consists of activities that it engages in to ensure efficiency of operations, the effectiveness of service delivery and profitability of the business. Using a TQM framework, the management will be able to influence all areas of the business operations and ensure an increased level of customer satisfaction. The suggested TQM framework encompasses both a customer focused and employee oriented integrated operations system of a restaurant. The integrated TQM framework prioritizes customer and employees satisfaction. To ensure a high level of customer service and sustainable profitability, the restaurant management must also put in place programs which high-level motivation and commitment of employees.
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