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1.0 Introduction

Four Seasons Auto Repair and Tire is a local business. It has four locations in the Vancouver area. Their main aim is achieving competitive advantage by providing cost leadership and quick response. Four Seasons extended from a single location in 1990.It was initially a small garage with two workstations. Currently, Four Seasons has a number of locations and numerous workstations. The crucial difficulty that Four Seasons is facing at this moment in time is the inability to adjust to the business growth over the past years. Since more customers have begun using Four Seasons, the management needs to modify its operations. In order to compete in quick response and in price, the operations must run efficiently. My research revealed that waste was principally preventing the business providing exceptional customer service satisfaction, and more so, hindering customer retention.

Most operations done by the firm contained a plentiful amount of waste that hindered the company from reaching its full potential. For example, the standard oil change process consumed 30 minutes compared to the industry average time of 15 minutes. More so, technicians wasted much time walking and searching for supplies. Additionally, communication was an area of concern as customers would wait up to 15 minutes after their car serviced before being informed that there car was ready. This applied to the other services offered at Four Seasons Auto Repair and Tire. Four Seasons decided to develop a strategy that would maximize on their efficiencies and do extremely well in its cost and response identity. In order to achieve that, it was critical to remove the waste that didn't add value to the company. For instance, the implementation of a Gantt chart, special work stations, communication system, supplies and materials near work stations, and transfer of the break room were to be addressed. These improvements will do away with massive waste and eventually streamline the operations for increased efficiency.


2.0 The operation under study

The operation under study is Four Seasons Auto Repair and Tire. The research revealed that, their main objective was to offer a full line of automobile services to the Southwest Washington section. Repairs in the company were carried out by trained qualified technicians who had access to all parts and accessories with some of the best test equipment. It was noted that, they were direct competitors with many automobile service shops in the area. These firms were also struggling to reach a competitive advantage on cost and response for them to compete so well with others in the field. Competing in these two fields, could satisfy both parties involved as they worked hand in hand. Research revealed that Four Seasons found this appealing because it gave allowance for fast turnaround from one customer to another. In the long run, they ended up serving more customers in a given day. Also, the client could see value in this because they wait for little time waiting for their cars to be serviced (Sebastian 2008).

More so, FSART devised an operation schedule with the strategy of cutting down on the costs. For instance, the low cost strategy was adopted and achieved in consequence because the firm ensured that technician's hourly wage was spread over a large group of clients. Four Seasons put to practice the low cost form by promising and making sure that they match any other auto shop's price in the vicinity. The model, later on, proved to be victorious as they have been in business for over 20 years. However, there seems to be an area of struggle experienced in the company and reason for concern as the firm moves progress. More so, the research revealed there certain operations that hindered Four Seasons from becoming better and ultimately attaining its maximum potential. This was established as the process which services were completed by the company. It was established that the location of the garage was critical due to heavy traffic. The observations from the field also revealed that many employees who walked over to pick up oil for a car they were servicing were distracted by the television .More so, other employees extended their rest during their break. It was also established that the walk from across the shop was tedious and unnecessary. Second, the close proximity to the break station was very distracting and was causing technicians to deviate from the business model of quick response. This was problematic since the only way Four Seasons could be successful in cost leadership was to be superior in response so that more cars could be serviced. It was found out that could not go down well with management because they were greatly pushing technicians to do the job in a more rapidly manner. This eventually led to a lot of mistakes. The interview carried out on five people as they were leaving the shop revealed their past experiences with Four Seasons. Three out of five reported they have been told the incorrect waiting time. Two out of the five reported the reason they were at the shop was because they were returning from a previous service because the employees had done the job incorrectly (Sebastian 2008).

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Finally, it was also established that on average a car could staying the workstation for like 20-30 minutes before a technician could actually service a single vehicle. The push strategy that the management resolved to in order to make as many cars serviced as possible could not still work. Still, the amount of time spent by the technicians walking around the garage could still downplay the company's effort s in trying to be time efficient. In consequence, this led to the quality of service being severely tarnished; customer satisfaction become low and customer retention was close to nonexistent. This was risky to Four seasons since because customers could be choosing other shops where the same process can be done in a much more effective way. This could the sales of the company (Sebastian 2008).

3.0 Problems considered being managerially significant to the operations

Some of the main objectives of Four Season Auto Repair and Tire (FSART) are to provide convenience, speed, and value to their customers. Though, due to occasional overloading of the facility, the crowding created inefficiency and quality problems that at times limited its ability to please the customer .This actually constitute the problems that are that managerially significant to the operation of the company. The aim in the following analysis is to help recognize the difficulties and offer solutions for FSART to; minimize completion time, minimize utilization, and minimize the work in process inventory (Sebastian 2008).

The problem seemed to be managerially significant to the operation because of the lost revenue and productivity. It was established that the customers waited for a longer time always than promised by the manager causing many customers to complain of the company taking too long to offer repair service for the car. It was discovered that the problems arose from situations where one had to wait waiting for someone to take action, papers or information travelling distances between offices and the shop, set-up time, and worst of all, rework. Since mistake were made, time and efforts could wasted in making corrections to the corresponding mistakes, and this could lead to  more delay in completion of the process. More so, the service processes used groups of experts to work on portions of a service procedure, creating extreme waiting time in between procedure steps. The research on the service process would reveal that small portion of time was actually used up working on the process compared with the time spend waiting for someone to take action. This problem could be considered as managerial in that if they could reduce waiting times would have been more efficient and productive. The managerial main task was to improve productivity which meant improving set-up time efficiency. However, the problem was when the employees and the manager over-promised and under-delivered on the tasks where they could do the jobs given to them on timely basis as required by the customers.

The management had the badly designed workspace which created time lags. This led to employees taking longer time to find the correct tool to operate on a task at hand, creating inefficiency, high overhead costs, and creating poor quality brand image. Since the goal for the company was to create value for the customer and win their loyalty through great service, the management had to motivate each worker to perform their best and win customers loyalty with improvements in the efficiency of related works. As a result of the above problems, the FSART management team decided that it would rather be process-focused than product focused. They were contemplating a project scheduling that would focus on generating forward-looking schedule. The schedule would ensure that the works that arrived were to be processed immediately to avoid overloading, and thus make the facility less overcrowded. This would enhance efficiency. More so, manager had to decide how long each task could take. Furthermore, they had to compute how many people and materials would be needed at each stage of production, and comprehend the total cost of the project (Sebastian 2008).

Concerning the total cost, it was advisable more dollars should be allocated for a particular task during peak times. Actually, the main focus was to achieve the useful specifications essential to meet customer requirements in a best way.

4.0 Recommendations and solutions

As mentioned before there was much time wasted by technicians from physically moving around to get the required tools, and also needed supplies in inventory. The problem was to be solved by recommending the use of a toolbox that could be positioned strategically. Tools for a specific service were place close to a particular bay where the service was offered. More so, the tools were to be closer to the users to provide easy access to tools and thus this would reduce service time hence efficiency is enhanced in the process.

Secondly, it was recommended that each bay was to be allocated a specific service with relevant toolbox to their proximity. It was important to separate the bays so as to create organization of the facility. This organization would lead to improved service provision and thus efficiency would be enhanced. The bay had to be redesigned to provide room for storage of tools needed to offer the services at each particular bay. Some bays were reserved to store ordered and delivered parts at the garage like the tires and the brakes. The walking areas were to be designated with the yellow pained lines. This was so because this could decrease the likelihood of an injury; this, in turn, would give an easier organized work flow. Additionally, it was recommended that FSART should implement a scheduling called Gantt chart that could allow managers to observe the progress of each task and tackle any problems in the areas. Use of these Charts as a visual help would aid in loading and preparation and hence operations personnel would manage facility workflow more efficiently (Layard, Glaister1994).

Finally, it was suggested that a communication system be installed of at each bay. This system was to have a monitor showing the Gantt chart which could specify service time in progress. A sound program that could inform customers in case a vehicle had been serviced completely. It was established that should this plan be implemented, the service time would be reduced by half an hour. This could, otherwise, be interpreted as increase in the number of vehicles serviced; twice as many vehicles could be serviced, making FSART more competitive (Layard, Glaister1994)

FSART deals with two vehicle services: oil change and tire service, both of which have high demand. FSART objective is to provide convenience, speed, and value to its customers. Due to overloading of the facility, there has been an inefficiency and quality problems. This calls for implementation of a Gantt chart, specialized work stations, and communication system. More so, supplies and materials near work stations, and transfer of the break room must be to be looked at immediately to address these issues. As a manager of FSART, I would recommend the use of a optimal project schedule like the Gantt Chart. The chart will permit managers to study the progress of each doings and tackle the problem in any area without waste of time. More so, a proper scheduling will ensure that jobs received are worked on immediately as they are received to avoid cases of overcrowding that could reduce efficiency of the system and poor quality service. Furthermore, the project schedule, if implemented, will ensure that each activity has a specified time allocated for it its completion just to ensure tasks are done in time and meet the required deadlines. By implementing this project schedule, the rate of customer turnaround will double indicating great sale and thus FSART will make huge profits. More vehicles will be serviced within a short time by the staff of the company and hence efficiency will have been enhanced. However, the cost of implementing the project schedule will not be very cheap. The total cost of the project will may be slightly higher than the budgeted cost but since our focus is to have functional requirement to meet the customer needs in a best way (Layard, Glaister1994).

As the manager, I would recommend that the scheduling program be adopted since it has more benefit as compared to the costs incurred. Its implementation will increase the efficiency of the firm as in, waiting time for the customer will cut down and more customers will be served. More so, since the managers will be able to monitor various tasks regardless of where they will be taking place makes the system reliable and easy to manage. Though, the scheduling programs seem to be the best option, there several assumptions that made in the process. For instance, we shall assume that the project schedule shall be strictly followed with minimal deviations because of unavoidable circumstances. More so, there risks expected while carrying out operation of the company using the Gantt chart. Should there be small changes in details in the Gantt chart program, this may result to FSART not achieving its main objectives (Layard, Glaister1994).

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