The aim of this paper is to outline the results of an operational audit assessing the quality of the customer service at a fast food restaurant. The paper will discuss deficiencies detected during the audit and provide recommendations for their correction.
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There is ample evidence showing that an operational audit is a useful instrument for quality improvement at all levels of operation (Hernan 24). It can serve for enhancing employee motivation and reducing costs of external audits. The audit program discussed in the paper has been designed to document current practices at the Wendy’s. Operational audit structure has been devised in such a manner as to make sure that customer satisfaction criteria fit the requirements of the industry. The program’s checklist elicits maximum operational information based on the customer’s point of view. The checklist is divided into five operational categories: safety procedures, restaurant quality procedures, food quality procedures, quality of the menu, and quality of service. All categories have been analyzed in order to determine the relative emphasis the Wendy’s places on each operational category. The operational audit contains 16 customer service items.
|Category & Procedures||Strong||Medium||Weak|
|Sprinkler system coverage||x|
|Presence of a portable fire extinguisher in the restaurant||x|
|Restaurant Quality Procedures|
|Clean dining area||x|
|Heating or air-conditioning||x|
|Physical environment condition||x|
|Food Quality Procedures:|
|Clean food preparation area||x|
|Food is served at the correct temperature||x|
|Food tastes and looks good||x|
|Quality of the Menu:|
|Menu is easily readable||x|
|Menu provides accurate price||x|
|Quality of Service:|
|Staff members greet the customers||x|
|Food handling safety||x|
The operational audit of the Wendy’s provides a detailed outline of the most important customer service dimensions. The following deficiencies in the areas of risk to customer satisfaction were detected by the auditor: cleanliness of dining areas, food handling safety, noise, restrooms hygiene, and courteousness of the staff.
Objective one is that of reaching a carefully formed opinion on the service quality at one of the franchise’s locations as it is perceived from the customer’s point of view. Objective two is that of providing the management of the facility with information on all deficiencies in the restaurant’s operation that jeopardize the provision of safe and effective services to the facility’s customers. Objective three is that of sharing recommendations for proper corrective actions that will help to eliminate all deficiencies in both the quick service premises and its service with the management of the restaurant.
Given that the restaurant operates in an extremely competitive and dynamic market environment, the recommendations for deficiency correction obtained through the investigation and analysis will help the management of the facility to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. The operational audit is extremely important for the service quality improvement because it helps to better understand consumer perception. In order to better analyze the consumer perception of the franchise’s location, the audit will analyze the quality of customer service based on the five operational categories.
Service quality can be defined as “the patron’s perception of service experiences” (Wu and Mohi 359) in terms of both intangible and tangible nature services. Therefore, in order to understand the perception of service quality in Wendy’s, 16 critical intangible and tangible dimensions were assessed by the auditor. Layout elements of the dining experience were also included in the audit. The scope of the audit encompasses the assessment of physical surroundings of the fast food restaurant. The operational audit was conducted on May 11, 2017, at 5:22 pm in the Wendy’s located in the city of Pickerington, OH.
Background of the Entity
Wendy’s is a global fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Columbus, Ohio (Wendy’s). As of 2016, the company’s restaurant chain included 6, 537 restaurants around the world (Wendy’s). Fast food restaurants operated by Wendy’s “offer an extensive menu specializing in hamburger sandwiches and featuring filet of chicken breast sandwiches, which are prepared to order with the customer’s choice of condiments” (Wendy’s). The restaurant chain’s menu also features french fries, salads, soft drinks, and kids’ meals among others. Almost all Wendy’s locations have a pick-up window in addition to ordering points.
Finding # 1
The operational audit of the Wendy’s started from the assessment of the franchised property’s characteristics, namely from the evaluation of parking area. Parking area of a restaurant is an important element of the physical environment that “has significant influence on consumers’ perceptions and relative responses towards a service provider” (Hanaysha 33). Based on the direct observation of the parking lot of the restaurant, it can be argued that the location is characterized by ample parking. However, the considerable accumulation of dirt and debris suggests that parking lot cleaning practices at the Wendy’s need improvement.
The restaurant management has to ensure that brushing and flushing are regularly conducted on their commercial property.
Finding # 2
Comfortableness and cleanliness of the restaurant facilities were the tangible factors assessed by the auditor that revealed substantial deficiencies. It can be argued that the cleanliness dimension is one of the most important factors in the customer’s perception of a dining experience. Unfortunately, the auditor perceived an extremely low level of cleanliness of the dining areas in the Wendy’s. Both table surfaces and floors in the restaurant were in an unsatisfactory sanitary condition. Cleanliness of tabletops is especially important since they are often touched by both staff and customers, which contributes to bacterial transfer.
There is ample evidence suggesting that even visually clean surfaces in food processing facilities can be contaminated with viruses and bacteria causing foodborne illness outbreaks (King 36). The fact that tables and floors in the Wendy’s did not pass the visual test suggests that the hygienic conditions of the facility are unsatisfactory and can endanger the health of the customers that come into contact with those surfaces. The same can be said about the facility’s restrooms.
The management of the restaurant should optimize its cleaning protocols. To ensure that the restrooms of the outlet meet cleanliness standards, they have to be checked by the restaurant staff every 20 minutes during rush periods.
Finding # 3
The seating arrangements of the location were reasonably comfortable and provided enough space, which formed an impression of good service. It is an important dimension that can be considered the restaurant’s strength. Courtesy is another dimension of the service quality that was assessed during the audit. The auditor was not greeted by a fast food restaurant employee. It is a considerable weakness of the facility because front-end staff of fast food outlets plays a key role in the creation of positive dining experience. Despite this significant drawback, the encounter was pleasant. The Wendy’s employee appeared to be courteous and friendly. It can be said that the dress code of the restaurant’s workers is its strength since it creates the feeling of comfort. However, the demeanor of front-end workers of the outlet can be improved.
Managers of the restaurant are strongly advised to adopt new management tactics that can inspire their employees to enhance the quality of their professional attitude. Regular trainings and workplace interactions can help the outlet’s workers to maintain their composure.
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Finding # 4
The food was delivered on time, and the auditor was given a receipt, which suggests that the facility does not experience understaffing issues. The food was evaluated based on temperature, look, and taste and scored the highest ranking in all categories. However, one of the employees of the restaurant was not wearing gloves while handling food.
The management of the outlet should eliminate bare hand contact with food by providing their staff with disposable gloves.
Finding # 5
In terms of the physical environment of the Wendy’s, the place was properly decorated, with proper lighting and temperature. The assessment of the noise levels suggests that the place is too loud, which decreases the satisfaction of the dining experience.
This deficiency can be eliminated by covering walls with textured materials that can dampen sound reverberations, thereby decreasing the noise levels.
The paper helped to better understand customer services requirements for the fast food industry. Findings of the audit indicate that dining areas and restrooms are considerable weaknesses of the franchise location in terms of cleanliness. Other deficiencies include food handling safety, noise, restrooms hygiene, and courteousness of the staff.
Hanaysha, Jalal. “Testing the Effects of Food Quality, Price Fairness, and Physical Environment on Customer Satisfaction in Fast Food Restaurant Industry.” Journal of Asian Business Strategy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2016, pp. 31-40.
Hernan, Murdock. Operational Auditing: Principles and Techniques for a Changing World. CRC Press, 2016.
King, Hal. Food Safety Management: Implementing a Food Safety Program in a Food Retail Business. Springer Science & Business, 2013.
Wendy’s. “2016 Annual Report.” phx.
Wu, Hung-Che, and Zurinawati Mohi. “Assessment of Service Quality in the Fast-Food Restaurant.” Journal of Foodservice Business Research, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 358-388.