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Of the many functions in business, there are three basic functions; operations, marketing and finance/accounting (Gaither & Frazier, 2002, p.6). The integration of these functions creates a better opportunity to achieving common organizational goals. However, considering operations as a central function in a business environment influences the management of the entire business in an organization such as a beauty salon through a substantial value added by improving its customer satisfaction, competitiveness and ensuring a long-term profitability.
Operations management is the management of processes, people and resources to achieve the provision of the required goods and/or services at a certain level of quality and in the most cost-effective way. It is responsible for a successful implementation of corporate strategy by integrating thoughts about an organization's future as well as the effective operation of the present; thus providing a way of bringing together all various management disciplines (such as marketing, finance and accounting) to help build a realistic strategy capable of effective implementation (Johnston & Clark, 2001). Siegel (2009, p. 21) says that this domain constitutes an important and critical part of business that governs the efficiency and quality with which products are manufactured or services are provided and involves numerous human intensive procedures. More often, operations management is regarded as an integral part of operations research, although such facts maybe arguable. Also, Wagen (2009) agrees that operation research suggests numerous tools, methods and procedures which can contribute to solutions of solving many issues concerning operations management. Operation management links strategy to action, requires coordination across functions and involves managing the largest part of an organization (Terry, 2005). The various definitions and descriptions of operation management give the basis of the main focus in this paper as in how operations management influences the entire operation in the beauty salon shop.
Haven viewed the nature of operations management in various contexts, the employability of operations management in the services of a beauty shop will then be discussed as the subject in this paper. The salon shop business is aimed at high reputable operation capability to add values to the physical looks of its potential customers; offering extensive service qualities on hairdressing (for men and women), facial care, nail care and body waxing. The shop will also contain a mini store for the sales of accessories associated with the key businesses already highlighted. Specifically, the discussion will be focused on the usefulness of operation management on managing planning, purchasing/supply, inventory, transportation, cost, time and quality and also to show how these tasks work interdependently to achieve long-term profitability, quality service and low cost of operation.
Roles of OM in managing the beauty salon shop
Generally, the importance of operations management on businesses is embedded in every aspect of the service activities and therefore has critical roles to play especially in ensuring that the business accomplishes its primary goals in the most cost-effective way (Voss, 2007).
It is of a great interest knowing that beauty salons, hairdressing and beauty consultants are consistently some of the most popular types of new businesses to start up in the UK, according to monthly data from Startups plus (Salon marketing, Feb. 12, 2011). With reference to this report, this beauty salon business being discussed will not just be an ordinary and common salon shops traditionally known but in fact an important place to make people who have lost the feel of beauty to experience a total transformation as it also offers a free session on beauty counseling to potential customers who have issues with hair and facial maintenance. However, client articles (Nov 1, 2010) says that when customers are shown such extreme care they tend to understand that a great deal and demand for beauty is something worth spending for. So, taking care of oneself and thus beauty transformation are the main concern in this business.
However, being aware of the business aim, operations management is thus employed in planning the shop and mostly sourcing the required resources. A greater part of the planning is the sourcing of the human resources (i.e. professional hair dressers and beauty artists) from beauty schools. Therefore, sourcing of developed and skilled employees is a fundamental human resource practice that is depicted as the "litmus test" of human resource management (Feltead & Ashton, 2007). For the purpose of recruiting well qualified staff, a request notice would be sent to the beauty school within the period of four months before the actual date of recruitment and opening of the beauty shop. This way of sourcing would ensure proper provision of the required developed and skilled staff as at when due and hence giving the beauty school certain period of time to train the staff up to the required standard without causing delay at start up. This practice on the other hand, would reduce fees/commission paid to the school as some beauty schools tend to give discounts for an early request of more than three months before due date. With the support of operations management and skilled workforce, operational results would be enhanced absolutely.
The shop layout is designed is such a manner to allow easy access to all sections, to support healthy communication amongst staff, support customers' convenience and enable fast services by positioning the necessary item needed for a particular service where they will be easily accessed. For instance, the hairdressing section and nail care section will be separated with just a narrow aisle while the facial care will be in same section with the hair dressing since both services are rendered on the head, though on separate stands containing all the necessary tools required for the service.
The degree to which a business's functions are aligned to the need of its market will significantly affect its overall growth in sales and profit (Hill & Hill, 2009). However, the development of a forecasting system requires a considerable amount of data to be collected and analyzed for usefulness and validity (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2004). Therefore, forecasting would be done according to the data collected on; seasonal requirement in fashion/style trend and seasonal (summer, etc) customer population from the previous years' records of already existing salons around, to know what the customers expect and how to handle the traffic. This will be achieved through online researches.
Purchasing is the management control point where all significant purchases are monitored for the right authorization of the right item, at the right price, quality and quantity, from right supplier at the right terms and at the right time (Business dictionary, 2011). However, getting the beauty parlor instruments such as hairdressing equipments, furniture, cosmetics, hairdressing materials and other accessories before start up would be from an equipment wholesaler since the wholesalers typically offer many various styles and trademarks of instruments, hence, more options of choosing the best from variety of products considering usage and durability in order to avoid unnecessary maintenance cost. The need for subsequent equipment updates and monthly supplies of cosmetics and other accessories, calls for a good business relationship between the business and the supplier; thus improving the supplier's performance through good rapport and appreciated efforts.
To generate a better and clearer inventory management in this business especially for peak periods such as Christmas season and summer, accurate records of stock will be kept on monthly basis, hence solving the problems of under estimation at such periods and otherwise. This technique will not only reduce cost of unnecessary runarounds due to under estimation of available stock but will also create a room for budgeting on operational expenses such as cost of transportation for private services (home services ), wages/salaries, etc. However, inventory will be managed by reviewing the monthly records/reports on available and used stock. The issue of transportation in this business will be tackled by the use of a mini-truck during supplies and purchases but by bus for external services (such as home services) or by taxi/cab on urgency as the case may be.
Interdependence of various tasks
Considering the manner in which the supplies will be carried out in this beauty salon business, the cost of transportation during supplies will be minimal since the supplies will be done by the supplier on a monthly basis. Also budgeting for the monthly supplies will be done on over-estimation to resist increased cost of supply due to increased price of stock in the future.
For a more strategic and effective management of day-to-day operations in the beauty salon, it is inevitable to skip the introduction of salon software such as Envision salon and Salon Booker. This software will not only manage the appointment book and the back office, it will also help bring new customers through other inter-configured software around the web. Adopting the idea of software usage will also help make the salon's website a profit center as well as a marketing technique. Customers will find it more convenient to book appointments at the salon on the website maybe from home or workplace. This will invariably help solve the problem of congestion in the salon, delays prior to service reception and also under estimation of the stock for the required day-to-day services. It will also contribute to the management of time as it will create awareness for the days' activities and assigning of staff to various customers on appointment.
The time management is the most difficult aspect of this business. The employed technique is forecasting on daily basis which will be aided by the use of the past records' references. This practice will however, help the management to predict and prepare for the day's services. The speed at which the various staff renders various services is also a determining factor in time management, thus staff will be trained to perform tasks as quick and accurate as possible.. Time management in this business is in fact a trial and error issue considered on daily basis with no particular approach but will be managed as good as possible by investing more on human resources and software to ensure that the issue of time management and service accuracy is tackled at length. This fact is the reason why the business requires qualified professionals.
It is said that customers are paramount to any business and the general objective of this business is the acquisition, satisfaction and retention of customers to ensure a continuous growth of the business. Also, services are intangible items consumed almost at the time of provision, with the customer retaining the benefits of the service (Terry, 2005). This, however, makes it necessary to consider these two major terms of service in this business; service outcome and service experience, to insure the retention of the service benefits on the customers.
According to Johnston and Clark (2001) the term service outcome is described as the result of the service on the customer. It is the realistic eventuality on the recipient of the service. An instance could be cited as regards to service outcome in the case of this beauty salon by taking into cognizance the smart, gorgeous and freshening looks of customers after acquiring the required services (beauty touches such as hairdressing, facial care), the self confidence and then the attraction to other fellow to them is a good example of a service outcome. It is important to note that for a rapid growth and long-profitability in this business, an outstanding standard of service outcome is a priority. However, this when ensured grants the business not only a high market share but also an edge over rivals for a more strategic competitiveness. Nevertheless, the practice for the pursuit of a high standard of service outcome in this business will be adopted most especially at the entry stage and in everyday service. The nature and description of service outcome will not be completed without mentioning the term service experience.
The term service experience is also described according to Johnston and Clark (2001) as the customers' direct experience of the service processes and it actually concerns the way customers are dealt with by the service provider (i.e. the customer-facing staff ). On further explanation, it can be assumed as the customers' experience of the entire organizational processes as well as its available facilities. However, service experience could possibly start even before the actual point of expectation (i.e. beauty salon) through word-of-mouth advertising activities by informal interaction. Ensuring a standard service experience of customers would not only promote the business internally and externally but also advertises the business at no cost through the customers' word-of-mouth activities to friends attracted to them as a result of a quality service outcome. The development of this factor creates an avenue for value adding on the process of service through a smooth and flexible coordination of processes together with the workforce accuracy and speed. Visiting a beauty salon shop means more than only a hairdressing service, beauty salon shops must supply variety of cosmetic remedies that both stimulate and relax customers' body and mind (Garner, October 4, 2010). However, the business will ensure that provisions for greater relaxation to customers are assured. This will be done by serving a cup of coffee/tea, glass of water or any kind of soft drink, in stock, demanded by customers upon arrival, hence offering the customers a warm reception. Newspapers, novel, fashion/style magazines and earphones for music will also be made available to customers to grant relaxation during the period of service. This invariably would lead to a good service experience and improve service quality as well. Percentage discounts will be granted to customers who undergo three different services at a visit and this will be a way to show appreciation to customers and also promoting the business as well.
Creation of new and improved fashion/style may demand need for training of staff to improve capability and productivity in the styling world and also avoid the risk of backwardness which can lead to lose of customers. For a better improvement, there will be a provision of suggestion boxes both online and inside the salon. The feedbacks from these boxes will be reviewed and studied every week to know what the customers expect and how to serve them better with added values.
Operations functions form the interface between the thinking end (strategic direction) and the doing end (meeting customers' needs) of a business. It provides the essential link between the co-operate view and the operational task (Terry, 2005). On the strategy dimension, it links direction to action since without action; strategic dimension and debate have little value. It can therefore, be concluded that the principles of operation management with reference to the beauty salon business is important for all managers, because they provide a systematic way of looking at an organization's process. The need to manage service operations effectively and efficiently in the beauty shop leads the business's interest in the adoption of operation management. As such, this concept is also recommended to be employed in today's organizations to ensure a smoother operation towards achieving organizational goals at lower costs and higher quality.