TQM in Foodservice


One of the most important industries overall is the food industry. The food industry consists of everything from food processing plants to fast food restaurants. The food industry affects nearly every living person. Most people don't realize how important this industry is and how it affects their everyday lives. That is why it is so critical that the products of this industry are at their highest quality, are free of bacteria and ensure that the consumer will not face any detrimental consequences. Total Quality Management (TQM) plays a big role in promising these results.

Total Quality Management seems to be a confusing term for the layman. TQM is a philosophy advocated by Dr. Edward Deming, a world renowned quality guru. It was widely accepted by Japan from 1950 onward. They used this principle for continuous refinement of an organization-wide quality system. Since then many organizations around the world have adopted TQM or similar methodologies. There have been many successes and many reported failures. Success of the system depends on the total commitment of the people to quality from top to bottom within the organization. TQM implementation is based on team work and the philosophy of continuous improvement. Statistics need to be used extensively to analyze and reduce the variation in the process.

In the food industry, continuous improvement is vital to the survival of a specific company or restaurant. The customer is constantly purchasing the products of competitors and any decline in quality will equal a decrease in gross profits. There are several areas that a restaurant may focus on for quality improvement such as menu offerings, hospitality, service, cleanliness, and over all food quality. All of these aspects will be covered in this paper concerning Total Quality Management.


Employee & Product Quality

Various well known companies such as Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Taco Bell have implemented Total Quality Management programs in an effort to increase quality and market share. Ritz-Carlton of Kansas City, Missouri, recently revamped menu selections for its rooftop-level restaurant and bar operation. This came about through customer surveys, focus-group studies of local restaurant patrons, employee opinions, and market analysis. This began with the general manager, Norm Howard, as TQM must start at the top to be successful. He states that "It [TQM] is about listening to your customers and empowering your employees to participate in important business decisions" (Stephenson, 1993).

Taco Bell, with the implementation of a Total Quality Management system, has improved its speed of service, friendliness of service, and value for money ratings. This company has done this by empowering employees and seeking customer input. By integrating their employees into the system, Taco Bell has also decreased employee turnover by 63% (Stephenson, 1993).

According to the article "TQM: Making it Work for You," there are six areas that need to be focused on (Stephenson, 1993). The first area is measuring quantitative results of various surveys and studies and basing future decisions strictly on these outcomes. This information could come from something as simple as a comment card, but these cards must tell the business more than what was good and bad, but why.

The second area to be focused on is empowering the employees. Allowing the employees to be involved in the team effort. Make the employees feel responsible for their actions and allow the employees to fix their problems. This is where many franchises lack, making it the manager's responsibility to fix the problems that the employees create. If management treats employees in a respectable manner, the employee will turn around and treat the customer with respect also.

Avoiding errors is the third area that needs to be focused on. The main focus of a Total Quality Management program is to eliminate errors before they can occur. Systems cause about 80% of all errors, so if the system is error free, then the employee has a lesser chance of making mistakes.

Next comes the integration of management into the process. Total Quality Management implies that management must be 100% in favor of the program, or else the employees will not respond properly. Employees will follow the lead of the management team.

Last is to do what the customer want, as tells the aphorism "The customer is always right." This is the same principle. There is no sense in serving only fried chicken if the customers demand a more health conscious baked or grilled chicken. "Customers are not only the people who walk through the doors