Needs Assessment: Paddy’s Melt

Paddy’s Melt is a recently established restaurant franchise that specializes in fast food, particularly of the Italian origin, including grilled cheese, Panini sandwiches, salads, and soups. The network experiences a fast expansion, particularly in college towns of the East Coast. However, recent assessment of the store chain conducted by Paddy O’Rourke and his management team has shown a decrease in the overall quality of services offered by the network. In particular, among the most serious issues were unsatisfying store cleanliness, low level of customer service, and insufficient food preparation. As a result, the owner was forced to halt the expansion process to prevent further reputation damage. It is clear that all these problems must be addressed. However, in order for the measures to be effective, it is necessary to define their source, as well as the most suitable way to address them, i.e. conduct the needs assessment. Therefore, the following work is focused on conducting a step-by-step analysis and assessment of the needs of Paddy’s Melt franchise.

Exploration

The first step of the procedure of assessment is exploration of the current situation, particularly problems the company is facing.

First of all, it is required to prepare a management plan, which will serve as a guide during the whole process of needs assessment (Tobey, 2005). Since the project manager and the assessment committee have been hired by Mr. O’Rourke, it is required to define a reporting schedule. Judging by the size of the restaurant network, it is possible to assume that assessment will take about three months with reports being presented monthly. Next, it is necessary to identify primary concerns. As mentioned before, main problems of Paddy’s Melt include the unsatisfying level of hygiene (store cleanliness), low level of customer service, and insufficient food preparation. Since no information on other problems is provided and the mentioned issues have a negative impact not only on the Paddy’s Melt reputation, but also on its expansion, it is possible to define them as the most important for the company. In order to conduct analysis of these issues, it is advisable to determine measurable indicators (Tobey, 2005). In case of Paddy’s Melt, these include the overall quality of service together with separate figures for determining professional skills of the staff, quality of ingredients and finished products, and level of motivation. Finally, prior to the assessment, it is important to define main priorities for the analysis (Tobey, 2005). In particular, the list includes establishment of a direct contact with the personnel of the network, assessment of their professional skills, working conditions depending on the location of the catering point, and the food preparation process, including quality of used ingredients.

Analysis

Assessment of needs of the target group is the next step in the project planning. By taking into account the abovementioned problems, it is possible to conclude that all of them are of an internal nature, i.e. they occur due to the influence of internal factors, particularly actions of the personnel of the restaurants. Therefore, employees will be the target group of the following analysis. In order to obtain the necessary information, the data gathering techniques, such as observation, surveying and interviewing, will be used. The observation will be used to assess the quality of service while the other two techniques will help establishing a direct contact with the personnel. In particular, the survey and interview questions will be as following:

  • The primary reason the respondent works in Paddy’s Melt;
  • The previous working experience (if any);
  • The personal opinion on the psychological climate in the workplace;
  • The primary motivational factors (if any);
  • The plans for the future (namely, the career and professional growth).

During the assessment, it is extremely important to distinguish between needs, desires, and interests. In particular, needs are something that must be implemented to achieve the goal. Desires can be regarded as a useful, but not essential component of the analysis. Finally, interests show concern about or indifferent attitude to anything. For an individual, it is not unusual to have a mixture of needs, desires, and interests. Consequently, during assessment of needs of the target audience, it is necessary to concentrate efforts on identifying them. Moreover, once needs are defined and assessed, they must be rated depending on their importance for achieving goals of the company (Althschuld & Kumar, 2010).

As mentioned before, primary concerns of the company are unsatisfying store cleanliness, low level of customer service, and insufficient food preparation. Taken separately, they could have served as a sign of low level of professional skills of the personnel due to the lack of proper training or working experience. In particular, since the majority of stores are located in college towns, it is possible to assume that the personnel working there is rather young in order to fit in the overall atmosphere of the college. Thus, some of them may not have working experience and may make mistakes, which can serve as an indicator of the need for training and raise of the qualification level. However, the observed combination of unsatisfying hygiene, customer service, and cooking is an evidence of negligence to the work. In particular, workers are not motivated enough to do their job well. Since Paddy’s Melt is a rather new franchise, it is possible to assume that currently no motivation system has been designed for it. For example, there may be no material bonuses or encouragement (e.g. worker of the week) for the hard work. As a result, employees have no interest in achieving high results and developing their professional skills, i.e. the career growth. Such indifference becomes the cause for the low level of service and the loss of reputation (Wentz, 2007). Therefore, the primary need of employees is motivation in all its forms.

It should also be noted that the problem of food preparation may have yet another source. As mentioned before, Paddy’s Melt franchise covers the entire East Coast area, which means that each of the stores in the network works in different conditions. In particular, in terms of absence of the own line for producing food, restaurants must establish contacts with local food suppliers.

Therefore, the quality of ingredients (bread, cheese, lettuce) may vary depending on the location, from high to low. Low-quality products act differently during cooking, having an impact on organoleptic properties of the finished product such as smell, taste, and texture. Moreover, their preparation often takes more time, thus lowering the overall productivity of the store (James & Baldwin, 2003). Hence, it is possible to assume that there is also a need for unified requirements, namely in terms of ingredients, for the entire restaurant network. However, since there is not enough information on this matter, the abovementioned need should be considered as potential.

Therefore, the analysis has allowed defining the primary need of the personnel: motivation (both material and non-material). Therefore, during the next stage of the project, this need must be satisfied first. Moreover, the need for unified requirements for the entire restaurant network may be considered as a potential one. However, this decision can be made only on the basis of results of an additional analysis of the food preparation process in different restaurants of the Paddy’s Melt network.

Decision Making

The final step of the needs assessment process is focused on provision of a solution for the abovementioned problems and issues by using the data acquired during the analysis of the target group (i.e. the personnel of the restaurants). As stipulated before, the primary source of all three problems is the lack of motivation. Therefore, Mr. O’Rourke, together with his management team, should consider implementation of certain measures aimed at increasing the level of motivation at the workplace.

It is imperative to find out how employees work, understand what motivates them, and examine psychological climate in the team. Moreover, it is also useful to learn the reason they have chosen this particular occupation for themselves. In case top management does not have a connection with such activities, it is still important to show interest in employees’ achievements. An employee who feels genuine interest and approval from the management will be much more willing to work in the restaurant. Another important measure is evaluation of work of the personnel. In particular, it is possible to teach employees to analyze and adequately assess their work. People who are able to monitor and compare results of their operations will watch their own professional growth with interest. In turn, being interested in their professionalism, they can define what was good and what else should be improved even without intervention of the manager (Frey & Osterloch, 2002). This measure can be organized in two ways. In case performance indicators can be expressed in numbers, everything will be clear without additional visualization. In other cases, it is possible to create a simple scale to evaluate and compare achievements and performance of employees. As a result, the personnel will know who and how will be rewarded for a job that is well done. It should be noted that spontaneous actions and covert manipulation in this matter may lead to cynicism as subordinates will assume that the manager does not know what is required and does not respect them (Frey & Osterloch, 2002). Therefore, communication must also be respectful. In particular, in case there is a need to make changes in the reward program, everyone should clearly understand why the changes are made and what the current goals are. In addition, through communication, it is possible to make employees understand what goals they can achieve under the current personnel management system (Frey & Osterloch, 2002).

As mentioned before, the need for unified requirements for the entire restaurant network is a potential one as it may be among sources of problems in the food preparation process. Therefore, it is possible to recommend establishing a contract with a single major food supplier with a good reputation and obliging all stores to purchase required products from it. As a result, ingredients will be the same in all restaurants, thus negating possible variations in food quality between the stores. Moreover, such unification will simplify the logistic chain of the company by lowering the number of suppliers and intermediaries. As a result, it may be possible to lower expenditures on transportation and storage of products and increase the net income (Wentz, 2007).

In conclusion, it is possible to say that implementation of the project will allow Paddy’s Melt to improve quality of its services and preserve its good name. However, it should be noted that the conducted analysis has been focused on the entire Paddy’s Melt network, so it may be used only as the basis for further assessment. In order to satisfy the abovementioned needs efficiently, it is advisable to make a similar research at the level of a single restaurant. In particular, the management may conduct a survey, which will allow receiving information directly from employees, or use the method of observation. These measures will provide even more detailed information and make it possible to develop the most efficient ways to address problems of each of the restaurants in the Paddy’s Melt network.

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