The Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation (KFC), which was founded in 1952 in the US and now belongs to the Yum! Brands, Inc., is an international company that owns and franchises chicken restaurants and offers a variety of products like sandwiches, biscuits, sides, sauces, drinks, and others (Bloomberg, 2016). In 2013, about 60% of countries all over the world had KFC restaurants, and Yum! plans to proceed to expand (Wong, 2013, para 2).
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KFC has a number of competitors in the international arena (including McDonald’s), but its products are unique due to the emphasis on high-quality, “non-quick” (naturally growing) chicken and special recipes, which results in a competitive advantage (KFC, 2016c; Shuailing & Zhi, 2015).
The quality of KFC’s (2016a, 2016b, 2016c) products and services is explicitly guaranteed by the publicly stated policies and assurances of the company. The present paper is devoted to the analysis of KFC quality management and control practices. It uses the company’s policies and specific examples of quality issues to attempt to define the key tools that KFC uses for its quality management practice development and suggests recommendations for their future improvement.
It should be pointed out that there is no reference to a particular quality management tool in the KFC reports and policies, which could be explained by the large size of the company. It may be suggested that various units of the company are allowed certain freedom in defining their tools. However, in 1995, a study conducted by Apte and Reynolds (1995) revealed that the company chooses practices rather than models, tests them, and employs them to manage and control the quality of its service.
It can be assumed that KFC’s quality management is primarily based on the best practices kind of improvement, which results in the discontinuous development of company-specific tools that are tailored to its needs. As will be shown below, the currently existing processes seem to support this idea. However, the present research also shows that the consideration of KFC practices from the point of view of Six Sigma DMAIC allows gaining insights into the logic of the existing practices and, possibly, opens the opportunity for a more continuous improvement processes.
DMAIC is a part of the Six Sigma phenomenon, which involves Defining the area of interest (typically an issue), Measuring it, Analyzing it to determine the key cause, Improving it with the help of the information gained in the previous phase, and Controlling the process of improvement and the maintenance of results. The latter phase guarantees the continuity of development. DMAIC is a multifunctional method that can be employed for product development, process improvement, and problem-solving (De Mast & Lokkerbol, 2012). In this paper, it is suggested due to its applicability to the unique set of quality management practices of KFC.
The methodology of this project is based on the analysis of KFC’s quality-related policies and reports, which are available on its websites, and literature review. The latter includes scholarly and news articles that contain relevant information. The study is purely qualitative, and it analyses specific examples of quality issues and their resolution with the help of the KFC quality management framework.
There is an obvious limitation to this methodology: it is incapable of defining the actual practices of KFC since it is possible that the studied policies are not directly adhered to in practice. However, for this work, it will be assumed that the best practices that are described in KFC policies are implemented in real life in the majority of cases. Apart from that, the presented study cannot guarantee that it has gained the access to all the data on KFC quality management since it does not include the internal documents of the company. As a result, its conclusions will be suggested rather than asserted.
Results and Findings
KFC (2016b) appears to have defined two key areas of quality improvement and control: the quality of supply and that of restaurants’ performance (which includes the restaurants of franchisees). KFC (2016b) uses a number of programs to measure and monitor (control) these two areas. The suppliers are measured by their reputation and quality standards that are not extensively covered in public policy statements. The control is carried out by the Department of Veterinary Service and the KFC (2016b) Quality Assurance Department. The specific procedures of control and measurement include the STAR audit that is performed annually.
The restaurant quality measurement tools include the CHAMPS and HAACCP systems: the first one measures the “Cleanliness, Hospitality, Accuracy, Maintenance, Product Quality, and Speed of Service,” and the second is a “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Programme” (para. 9-12). Basically, HAACCP is used for measurement as well as control, but CHAMPS is a measurement system. The control of the performance quality in this respect is carried out with the help of CHAMPSCHECK, which is a mystery customer-type program.
Also, there is the Voice of the Customer Program that KFC (2016a) uses to measure customer satisfaction. Finally, KFC (2016a) sets specific quality control practices for franchisees called Franchise 360 scorecard, which is a variant of CHAMPS that is slightly more extensive. Also, there are food safety audits that are similar to HACCP, but they are only applicable to franchisees.
To sum up, the Define, Measure, and Control aspects of the KFC’s (2016a, 2016b) quality management are well-covered in their quality assurance policy. They are visibly customer-oriented and aimed at keeping the KFC’s (2016c) promise of highest-quality, safe food. Apart from that, the quality of franchise restaurants appears to be under harsher control, which is logical since the reputation of KFC is directly connected to their reputation.
DMAIC also includes the Analyse and Improve stages, which can be illustrated with the help of the following examples of the quality issues that KFC has encountered in the past. One of the challenges that were successfully addressed is the personal hygiene, which currently includes specific hand-washing best practice procedures. The latter include the use of antibacterial soap, special equipment (hands-free tap, paper towels) and particular hand movements and methods.
Hand washing is supposed to take 30 seconds, which is sufficient for hygiene maintenance but, at the same time, is not excessive and does not result in the waste of time. This example describes a best practice that is required of every KFC (2016b) worker and that has managed to address the issue of workplace hygiene. It appears to demonstrate the viability of the KFC quality control framework, which implies that the choice of the company is likely to be capable of providing it with the practices that are suitable for it and tailored to its needs.
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Another issue that appears to have been resolved consists in the raw materials quality problems that KFC was experiencing because of its suppliers throughout the year 2013 in China (Wong, 2013). The issue included the exposure to contaminated chicken (Shuailing & Zhi, 2015). The problem had been addressed (Shuailing & Zhi, 2015; Wong, 2013), but the results are questionable. In particular, Shuailing and Zhi (2015), as well as Wong (2013), express concern about the possibility of recurring incidents, especially since KFC operates in a number of countries where issues with food safety are experienced.
Shuailing and Zhi (2015) believe that the current KFC’s supplier quality control has weaknesses that resulted in the problem (p. 142), which implies that certain changes in the system might be in order. Wong (2013), on the other hand, highlights the importance of increased control over the non-domestic operations, especially those in developing countries that are known to have issues with food safety. This view also justifies KFC’s approach to franchise quality control.
The ideas of Shuailing and Zhi (2015) and Wong (2013) appear to be helpful and suggest that changes should be made in KFC’s current quality control procedures. It is also noteworthy that the necessity for change seems to be required due to the developments in the company’s operations: as KFC proceeds to expand to new markets, it needs to adapt to their specifics. Therefore, this example indicates that the current KFC quality management procedures may be imperfect and might require a quality improvement of their own.
Table 1 in Appendix A summarizes this analysis and demonstrates how the DMAIC framework can be applied to KFC quality management and control practices.
Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendation
The presented research allows making the following conclusions. While KFC does not appear to name the quality control tool that it is employing, the typical process of the tools development might suggest that the company uses the best practice improvement method. Some of the company’s practices are aimed at performance measurement and control, which allows applying the DMAIC framework to KFC’s processes.
The analysis and improvement stages have not been directly found during this research, which can be explained by the unavailability of the company’s internal documents, but the existing improvements in the KFC quality management might indicate their existence. As a result, the present paper demonstrates that KFC quality control practices can be displayed with the help of the Six Sigma DMAIC framework, which provides insights into their logic.
The quality control practices of KFC are extensive and tailored to its needs, which implies that the company may have found its own mix of acknowledged and innovative tools, which might include DMAIC or its elements together with the best practices improvement method. However, the present study has found more evidence to the discontinuous, breakthrough improvement of best practices than the continuous improvement of DMAIC.
The control that is being exerted by the company does not appear to spur its continuous development; rather, it is aimed at strict adherence to particular practices. It may be suggested that KFC is more interested in a conservative policy, and the example of the successful resolution of the hygiene issue indicates that its framework does yield results. However, the problem of meat and food quality also suggests that the framework itself might require improvement. Therefore, the DMAIC approach, which already fits KFC’s understanding of quality management, might be recommended as a solution or a set of guidelines for KFC’s quality management improvement.
Apte, U. & Reynolds, C. (1995). Quality Management at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Interfaces, 25(3), 6-21. Web.
Bloomberg. (2016). Company overview. Web.
De Mast, J. & Lokkerbol, J. (2012). An analysis of the Six Sigma DMAIC method from the perspective of problem solving. International Journal Of Production Economics, 139(2), 604-614. Web.
KFC. (2016a). KFC franchising. Web.
KFC. (2016b). Quality assurance. Web.
KFC. (2016c). There’s more to us. Web.
Shuailing, L. I., & Zhi, Y. U. (2015). KFC Development in Chinese Market–Based on the Social Responsibility and Ethics. International Business and Management, 10(3), 142-146. Web.
Wong, V. (2013). KFC Brings Buckets of Chicken Into Nations With Food Safety Risks. Bloomberg Business. Web.
Six Sigma DMAIC at KFC: A Suggested Model
|Table 1 |
Six Sigma DMAIC at KFC
|Supplier Quality|| ||Example: food safety issue: resolved?|| |
|Restaurant Quality |
| ||Example: Personal hygiene issue resolved.|| |