Hazel Case Study (Management Operations)

July 14, 2017 | Author: Ivan Bendiola | Category: Lawn, Trade Off, Quality (Business), Strategic Management, Inventory
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Case study answers on Operations Management by Stevenson...


Hazel Hazel had worked for the same Fortune 500 Company for almost 15 years. Although the company had gone through some tough times, things were starting to turn around. Customer orders were up, and quality and productivity had improved dramatically from what they had been only a few years earlier due to a companywide quality improvement program. So it came as a real shock to Hazel and about 400 of her coworkers when they were suddenly terminated following the new CEO’s decision to downsize the company. After recovering from the initial shock, Hazel tried to find employment elsewhere. Despite her efforts, after eight months of searching she was no closer to finding a job than the day she started. Her funds were being depleted and she was getting more discouraged. There was one bright spot, though: She was able to bring in a little money by mowing lawns for her neighbors. She got involved quite by chance when she heard one neighbor remark that now that his children were on their own, nobody was around to cut the grass. Almost jokingly, Hazel asked him how much he’d be willing to pay. Soon Hazel was mowing the lawns of five neighbors. Other neighbors wanted her to work on their lawns, but she didn’t feel that she could spare any more time from her job search. However, as the rejection letters began to pile up, Hazel knew she had to make a decision. On a sunny Tuesday morning, she decided, like many others in a similar situation, to go into business for herself—taking care of neighborhood lawns. She was relieved to give up the stress of job hunting, and she was excited about the prospect of being her own boss. But she was also fearful of being completely on her own. Nevertheless, Hazel was determined to make a go of it. At first, business was a little slow, but once people realized Hazel was available, many asked her to take care of their lawns. Some people were simply glad to turn the work over to her; others switched from professional lawn care services. By the end of her first year in business, Hazel knew she could earn a living this way. She also performed other services such as fertilizing lawns, weeding gardens, and trimming shrubbery. Business became so good that Hazel hired two part-time workers to assist her and, even then, she believed she could expand further if she wanted to.

CASE Questions

1. In what ways are Hazel’s customers most likely to judge the quality of her lawn care services? Basically, Hazel's lawn services can be judged through appearance. Her customers can decide satisfaction by simply observing the area in which Hazel did some service whether she succeeded in eradicating those unsightly and tall grasses leaving the yard to have a more pleasing scenery than before. It can also be judged if the instructions being specified were met by Hazel. In addition, Hazel’s credibility and insights from other customer will also be considered by the customers

2. Hazel is the operations manager of her business. Among her responsibilities are forecasting, inventory management, scheduling, quality assurance, and maintenance. a. What kinds of things would likely require forecasts? Hazel should be able to forecast the weather in performing the services. It is not good to do some mowing when the weather is not good particularly if it's raining or there’s a storm. Furthermore, Hazel should also determine the demand for her lawn care services such as the average number of requests she gets daily. This way, she can properly schedule work and maintain the necessary equipment. It is also advantageous to Hazel if she can forecast how many weeks before the grasses will grow longer to the point in which her regular customers will need her again to take care for their respective lawns.

b. What inventory items does Hazel probably have? Name one inventory decision she has to make periodically. Usually, when someone engages to lawn care business, the items that will most probably be needed include lawn mowers, fertilizers, seeds, grass cutters, and other gardening tools such as rake, weeders, hedge shears, shovel, and many others. Of all these inventory items, the most important would be the lawn mower and she has to keep its maintenance periodically in order for it to last longer and ensuring that it's on the best condition since it brings a material impact for her business. Aside from its usage, the lawn mower is technically an equipment with machine that needs maintenance.

c. What scheduling must she do? What things might occur to disrupt schedules and cause Hazel to reschedule? Hazel may schedule the time when to perform service and how many hours will it take to complete. It is highly important because it would ensure smooth operations for her business and keep the customer well-informed, thus, gives more probability of their satisfaction. The duration of service is also an important thing to schedule because it would determine the appropriate compensation and the number of clients she can handle in a given period of time. In relation to forecasting, factors such as weather and customer demand as well as malfunctioning of the machines and availability of her workers affect the scheduling of Hazel's services. Moreover, lawn area, lawn condition, and the number of services of a requested by a given customer can also affect Hazel’s scheduling.

d. How important is quality assurance to Hazel’s business? Explain. Simply stated, quality assurance is assuring quality. Quality assurance is assuring that tasks, procedures and processes are executed exactly as intended every time. Like most establishments, quality assurance is indeed highly important for Hazel’s lawn care business since it would help her to clearly identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in her business and enable her to design techniques on how to remedy or prevent them. As mentioned, it would ensure smooth operations and help increase customer demands, thus, it would mean more profit. Quality assurance also reflects on her business credibility or reputation. e. What kinds of maintenance must be performed? Even if Hazel is starting a small business, there are still a need for some maintenance specifically on service quality, inventory management and contact with the customers. On service quality, Hazel should be able to maintain the quality of her work on all of her customers which can be judged based on indicators given on the first question. Of course, maintenance of her inventory items and equipment are critically a need. She should maintain and check that the condition of her lawn mower/s and gardening tools are in best condition. In addition, the checking of expiration dates for her fertilizers should also be consistent. When it comes to customer contact, Hazel should maintain good communication with her customer in order to be updated and effectively deal with any changes. Like for example, if a customer decides to cancel his/her requests or reschedule it for some other time

because of some reasons, Hazel can then take proper measures on these occurrences. Therefore, it would help maintain healthy client relationship and contribute to a smooth flow of operations. 3. What are some of the trade-offs that Hazel probably considered relative to: a. Working for a company instead of for herself?

time wasted that will be looking for a when jobwhen and the renders gain lawn she services

In deciding between the two options, Hazel should probably consider a trade-off on the salary and authority. With regards to salary, Hazel should be able to assess her earnings whether which alternative would give more value to her. However, she must first consider the risks between losing the job and bankruptcy of the business depending on the applicable factors such as demand and status of industry. Nevertheless, whether Hazel personally wants to be supervised or be the supervisor can become a considerable trade-off. Hazel should try to choose which option gives her more opportunity to achieve personal growth, contentment, and security. b. Expanding the business? Trade-offs that exist on expanding a business lies on the weighing of benefits as to the costs and additional profit. After careful analysis based on the present factors, if the costs of expanding the business outweigh the additional income that might be earned, it is better for Hazel not to undergo expansion, however, she can opt to just make improvements. c. Launching a Web site? If the current campaign methods are enough for Hazel's business in which she can maximize her business capability and capacity, there is no need to launch a website. Nonetheless, launching a website could also prove beneficial in reaching a wider range of customers and provide information about Hazel's lawn care helping the customer decide remotely without Hazel answering or attending the same queries every single time. 4. The town is considering an ordinance that would prohibit putting grass clippings at the curb for pickup because local landfills cannot handle the volume. What options might Hazel consider if the ordinance is passed? Name two advantages and two drawbacks of each option. The obvious option in which Hazel can make on the given situation would be extending her services covering the disposal of grass clippings. Instead of letting the trashes be picked up by the authorities she could make additional profit by replacing the role. In other words, it would make Hazel's lawn care service to be a complete package. As a result, more customers will patronize her business since it creates a good image

being socially responsible by following the new ordinance. However, major drawbacks for this option would be the additional costs that will be incurred in extending the service as well as the resources that would be wasted particularly labor, money, and time that will be consumed in finding a landfill location which is probably far. Another option would be instead of extending her services and finding a landfill, she may sell or give the grass clippings to farm houses or fields filled with grass eating animals such as cows, goats, horses, etc. This way, she can have an additional profit and made the grasses be of used which is helpful for the animal owners and of course, to nature. Disadvantages would be the costs that would be incurred particularly in transportation and storage and the presence of thorns and other harmful substances mixed with the grass clippings. Accordingly, whatever option Hazel might follow, still, the fact remains that it leaves her no choice but to follow the law to avoid future consequences and just choose the best decision. 5. Hazel decided to offer the students who worked for her a bonus of $25 for ideas on how to improve the business, and they provided several good ideas. One idea that she initially rejected now appears to hold great promise. The student who proposed the idea has left, and is currently working for a competitor. Should Hazel send that student a check for the idea? What are the possible trade-offs? Unfortunately, Hazel made the wrong decision in the first place although it was not her intention because of the unforeseen circumstances. If there are no risks associated with checking that student's idea, I guess, finding it out is worth a try. Considering ethical principles including the consent of the competitor and the willingness of the student. Accordingly, possible trade-offs could occur in the sense that without knowing the idea might pose as a challenge for Hazel to do better for her business and could even surpass or destroy that idea with her own. Furthermore, if she chooses to check the student's idea, it would make her incur additional costs and might pose a problem knowing that her competitor has already worked it out. 6. All managers have to cope with variation. a. What are the major sources of variation that Hazel has to contend with? Normally, a lawn care business experiences variations with regards to inputs in productivity, quality assurance, wages, and even with the seasons. It is really difficult for Hazel to achieve uniform inputs in providing services since it varies in different customers depending on the area of their lawns. Like many service type businesses, it is highly difficult to measure productivity and the appropriate compensation. b. How might these sources of variation impact Hazel’s ability to match supply and demand?

The variations presented on the previous question affect Hazel's ability to match supply and demand since as stated, inputs may be less than or more than adequate to meet the desired outcome. There will be times when supply is not enough to meet the customer's demand, resulting to miss opportunities or to incur unwanted costs. c. What are some ways she can cope with variation? Before designing strategies, Hazel must first conduct careful study and analysis as to causes, nature, correlation, and effect of these variations. She should be able to identify the significant variables that give large impact on her business as a whole. Until then, she can create new ideas and develop coping strategies in order to manage the existing variations. She could resort to imposing certain criteria and standards that maintain balance between inputs and outputs, hence, matching supply with demand. This way she can ensure an efficient and effective operation of her start-up business. 7. Hazel is thinking of making some of her operations sustainable. What are some ideas she might consider? Aside from quality assurance, the other ideas that would help Hazel make some of her operations sustainable include innovations that maximize profit and reduce costs, offering a wider range of services, reaching new groups of customers, improving the service quality based on insights from past customers, and investing on high quality tools and equipment. Hazel can also encourage her customers to grow beneficial plants that add beauty to the surroundings which are also healthy for the environment.

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