As an independent consultant in Quality Improvement, I will conduct an analysis of the operations of the company `Handles and Hinges`. I will answer how the company competes in its market place, what role does quality' play in its competitive strategy, whether or not I believe the company's use of statistical quality control is sensible, how a TQM approach could benefit the company's operations, and I will also apply the Gap model of quality diagnostics to the company and comment upon its relevance.
Competing in two markets
Handles and Hinges compete in two different markets, the retail market, and the construction market. In the retail market, it is much more aware of costs, and this has placed stress on the manufacturing facility at Handles and Hinges to make orthodox products of quality similar to that of the competition and at a depleted price comparative to the construction market. Consequently, the company changed all production from long lead-time made-to-order craft-based methods to batch production of made-to-stock items. In the construction market, the company's long running product line has ran against less costly competition by giving a more compactly specified and controlled quality products, with original designs in the right amount at the right time. This has pleased the two main groups in the market, the contract builders who need reliable deliveries in order to keep to construction limits and the designing architect who wants originality and quality and will be ready to buy in order to improve various projects. This market had recently gone through a recession, which is why the company looked elsewhere to recover the loss in demand.
Handles and Hinges compete in its market place by offering high quality goods to the right people at the right price. It is therefore fundamental and vital that the company does not distribute low-quality products, due to the fact that repeat purchases are needed for the company to continue being successful. The role that quality plays in its competitive strategy is huge; the most determined feature that attracts consumers to products is the promise of high-quality. Quality is a degree of excellence, and is a totality of features and characteristics that satisfies needs. These are the needs of the consumer, the most important factor any company needs to examine in order to be successful.
To make a product `high-quality`, it needs to follow certain criteria. First and foremost is the product's fitness for use. This basically means how well the product does what it is supposed to do. Overall for Handles and Hinges it needs to make sure this is a top priority, meaning there cannot be any products coming through its production line that are not `fit for use`. The next thing a consumer will look for is its `quality of design`. This is essentially the designing quality characteristics for the product being produced. If it looks good and is fit for use, then it will appeal to buyers.
It also needs to be reliable, and considering the market place that Handles and Hinges are currently in, reliability is a huge factor. If its reliability is more then its main competitors then due to word of mouth the company will continue to gain more consumers. It will become a respected brand amongst buyers who will at some point need to re-buy, and if the reliability of the product is high, then they will come back to Handles and Hinges.
Serviceability is also another decisive factor that needs to be met in order to get `high quality` products. This fundamentally means how easy it is to get a product repaired if it is broken, how long it takes to get it repaired and how well it does get repaired. This is important because customer interest in the company can severely drop if they hear stories about how long it takes to get replacements for certain products they have spent their money on. This is also important due to legal reason also, because if a...