Parameters of Report
This report is a detailed analysis of the competitiveness of Chongqing Xiao Mian Restaurant. It covers multiple areas of analysis that relate to how the restaurant operates and the challenges it faces in its business activities, especially if compared to its numerous competitors in the Bay area of San Francisco, specifically Chinatown. The analysis will focus on the positive aspects of the enterprise that promote its competitiveness and profitability with discussion and recommendations on the problems that the restaurant faces.
Description of the Problem
The main problem that Chongqing Xiao Mian might face is the existence of significant competition in the restaurant business in the current location. In the area, many similar restaurants present a high competitive level for spicy foods, similar to those offered at the restaurant. This report analyzes Chongqing Xiao Mian’s competitiveness in comparison to that of its closest competitors. It also provides recommendations that can be followed by the restaurant if the management wants to improve its weak spots that hinder its competitiveness.
To obtain accurate and true information on the current situation of the restaurant, I conducted an extensive research and observation on its day-to-day activities and operations. I also had some customer interviews, where I was able to acquire insightful information concerning the restaurant and its service provision. My internship at Chongqing Xiao Mian has enabled me to learn personally how operations are conducted and their effects on the overall competitiveness of the restaurant. The internet was also a valuable resource where I was able to analyze online reviews and opinions by customers who had offered their opinions regarding the restaurant.
Summary of Findings and Conclusions
Analysis of the information that I had collected during my internship at Chongqing Xiao Mian enabled me to gain great amount of valuable knowledge about the business and its challenges. It also gave me some insight into the general food service industry situation, especially in the San Francisco Bay area. I have noticed that the restaurant has many commendable practices in its day-to-day operations but I have also faced a few challenges to its general competitiveness when compared to its close competitors.
From my research findings, I was able to propose some recommendations that, if followed, would help the restaurant gain a considerable competitive advantage over its competition. I propose that the restaurant establishes a strong online presence in order to conquer the growing online market. It should also establish a unique selling point and formalize its brand as an authentic Szechuan cuisine restaurant.
Section I – Background
Chongqing Xiao Mian is an authentic Szechuan cuisine restaurant located in the Chinatown area of San Francisco. It is a popular tourist destination that offers a wide range of authentic Szechuan delicacies, with the most popular ones being noodles and spicy foods, and their price is quite good. The restaurant offers some of the best noodles and other spicy foods in the area. Its most popular menu item is its namesake dish, The Chongqing Xiao Mian, a beloved customer delicacy due to its spiciness that represents the restaurant’s reputation for among the best spice foods in the Bay area of San Francisco. It also offers a wide variety of noodles like Guilin mi Fen among others. With a variety like that, customers might be unsure of the menu but since the restaurant is focused on noodles, the menu is quite specialized. Moreover, it has often been described by many customers as being very good, very spicy, very authentic and having flavor close to that of true Chinese food.
The restaurant offers quality food, while adhering high hygienic standards in the kitchen and among employees who handle the food. This is commendable since many customers put great emphasis on hygienic conditions when dining out, with special concern for dirty tables, utensils, and even restrooms. Aside from quality services, cleanliness should be the major focus of any player of the food industry, especially restaurants (Denny, 2013). This, as well as other factors, namely quality of service, price, management, reliability, unique selling point, and efficiency, contributes towards sustainability and competitive advantage for any business in this industry (Denny 2013). With the current competition levels in San Francisco, especially in China Town, it is of utmost importance that he restaurant enterprises like Chongqing Xiao Mian develop high competitiveness and establish strategies to ensure sustainability and adaptability to the changing market demands.
The Chinese cuisine (Sichuan), being a very popular preference among San Franciscans, presents a good market opportunity for the growing restaurant, although there exists stiff competition from the likes of Boiling Beijing, located just a short distance from the restaurant. The current marketplace in Chongqing Xiao Mian’s environment is headed the digital way, with customers being able to order food online and have free delivery within the San Francisco area. This becomes an important selling factor among culinary businesses that deploy the use of online retail websites and call-to-order services, thus making it easier for customers to get their preferred orders (Güngör, 2007). If the discussed factors are disregarded, there could be considerable deflection of customers who might prefer delivery to their places of residence. They would be inclined to order from restaurants that offer the preferred services.
The research into the current market trends and competition is crucial in determining the success rate of any business enterprise (Denny, 2013) like that of Chongqing Xiao Mian. Without consideration for these driving factors of business and trade, it will be very difficult for any enterprises to grow and develop a brand with a strong hold on the existing market (Denny, 2013). If considered, these factors could considerably promote the restaurant’s market share and customer loyalty. This report will provide important tips and recommendations towards helping the restaurant grow and develop into a profitable and competitive business venture.
Section II – Statement of Problem / Research Project
As with any other business, there may occur some challenges or problems that render an enterprise unable to reach its maximum potential (Baltzan, 2013). The research carried out on Chongqing Xiao Mian was extensively done with an in-depth analysis of its current marketplace and operations and it aimed to determine how competitive the restaurant was if compared to its numerous competitors. This research was necessary in order to find whether the enterprise did well enough, and if not, what measures could be taken to boost its performance and build a high level of competitive advantage. This particular problem is rather common among many businesses and not just restaurants; thus, it requires attention and proper consideration due to its influence on business performance (Denny, 2013). My research findings and recommendations will be able to provide viable solutions to the particular issues, posing a threat to competitiveness of Chongqing Xiao Mian restaurant.
Section III – Methodology
For the assessment of Chongqing Xiao Mian restaurant’s competitive analysis problem, I conducted an extensive research with an in-depth observation and analysis of the restaurant’s management, customer service, competition, general operations, and activities performed on a daily basis. My position as an intern working in the restaurant had enabled me to collect great amount of crucial information that I recorded and later analyzed to make my conclusions and recommendations for the restaurant.
Each day working in the restaurant, I could converse with the employees, from whom I had obtained a considerable volume of information about how the business was ran. I had also managed to talk to the restaurant manager who had some insightful thoughts about how well the business was doing and what challenges it faced in relation to competitiveness and general performance levels. Apart from talking to the restaurant employees and management, I was also able to speak to a few customers who frequented the restaurant. During my breaks and after work, I engaged in conversations with customers, most of who had nothing but good things to say about the restaurant. I also used my good observation skills to note particular activities and procedures that were conducted and recorded all the information for later use, when analyzing the restaurant’s situation to come up with findings, give a conclusion, and recommendations for better change practices.
During my first week of internship in Chongqing Xiao Mian, I worked as a server; thus, I became familiar with the restaurant’s menu and customers’ preferred orders. In the following weeks and up to the last one, I also had the opportunity to work as a hostess to welcome guests and receive phone calls. As an assistant manager, I engaged with employees, whom I was responsible for. I also monitored service and food quality, which gave me the opportunity to observe the performance level of the restaurant in relation to customer satisfaction. In my last weeks of internship, I worked in the back of the restaurant, where I cleaned dishes and prepared ingredients for the chef. This enabled me to find out all the details of hygienic levels at the restaurant, which added to my research information catalog.
I also used the Internet to find some information about the restaurant’s services via online reviews and opinion polls, which gave me an insightful view of what customers had thought about the restaurant’s food and related services. At the same time, I researched close competitors of the restaurant, especially Spicy King, its major competitor.
Many customers and employees were willing to be interviewed and participate in my research, although some of them seemed uncooperative. The ones, who indulged me in conversation aimed at gathering information for my research, helped me in collecting enough data for analysis and reaching a conclusion after findings had been established.
Section IV – Findings
From my research and assessment of Chongqing Xiao Mian, I had managed to collect much information that I further analyzed to come up with my findings and observations for the report. The most important finding I had established from my research was the existence of stiff competition in the Bay area of San Francisco, the restaurant’s location area. There are many other similar restaurants providing similar foods and services as Chongqing Xiao Mian. Thus, the restaurant like Boiling Beijing offers authentic Beijing style cuisine, which poses a threat to Chongqing Xiao Mian as it mainly focuses on Szechuan style cuisine. Moreover, this cuisine is spicy just like that of many other restaurants in the area. Customers have many options to choose from when visiting Chinatown, which is major tourist destination in San Francisco. The biggest competitors to Chongqing Xiao Mian are Z&Y restaurant and Little Szechuan that offer food, similar to authentic Szechuan cuisine.
Chongqing Xiao Mian has a good management team that puts customer satisfaction under high consideration. They make sure the restaurant operates efficiently and that all quality standards are observed when it comes to food served and hygienic conditions in the kitchen and serving area. Employees also conduct themselves well and follow the utmost hygiene standards while working. Supplies and inventory are also managed well, which means a general efficiency in the operations of Chongqing Xiao Mian.
At the same time, unlike some of its competitors, Chongqing Xiao Mian lacks an online retail platform in the form of a website where customers can place orders and have them delivered to their places of convenience. Thus, a restaurant like Spicy King has an online store that offers all above-mentioned services and delivers orders as quickly as possible.
The restaurant offers a wide range of quality dishes from authentic Szechuan cuisine at affordable prices, which is greatly appreciated by the customers. However, many other restaurants in the area offer similar foods if not the exact same ones. At the same time, Chongqing Xiao Mian also offers daily specials on its menu.
I found out that many employees at the restaurant were friendly and engaging with customers and with each other. They are polite, humble, and ready to provide service whenever it is required of them. They also presented themselves well in a professional manner while at work. They worked hard every single day towards providing the best customer service.
There are generally positive online reviews and opinions about the restaurant, with many referring to it as the best Chinese cuisine place in the Bay area. Some people described its menu as being very good, very spicy, and very authentic. Online ratings also place Chongqing Xiao Mian among the best restaurants in the area.
I have also found out that the problems limiting the restraunt from reaching higher levels of performance and competitiveness as compared to its close competitors could also be solved by having the restraunt owner initiate an extensive research study into the current market demand and trends. By doing this, new practices could be introduced, and they would help the restaurant develop. I decided to use the internet and lighter forms of research since my internship program had a limited duration and only allowed me little time to conduct a proper research.
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Section V – Conclusions
From the findings of my research I have come to a number of conclusions regarding Chongqing Xiao Mian restaurant. The methods I deployed in coming up with these particular findings and related conclusion were extensive, and I had to dig deep to find out more about the restaurant.
Numerous favorable and commendable practices of the restaurant portrayed employees’ and management’s professionalism and commitment to providing quality food and related services to their customers who seemed to appreciate the services provided. It is commendable how much effort is put into making sure that customers receive adequate services for the money they pay. Bad customer service is often a decisive factor for most customers. The food might be great, with exquisite table setting, and delightful ambience, but if service is bad, customers will remember it. The key to success is in keeping customers happy and wanting to return again and again; thus, all employees and the management team should be dedicated to pleasing the customers. Chongqing Xiao Mian is a good example of great customer servicing from the first step into the restaurant, where customers are guided to their seats by a hostess, to the quality meals they are provided with once they place their orders. The customers are also offered suggestions regarding dishes that the restaurant thinks would be preferable to them. These suggestions always receive a good feedback from the customers, which shows that they appreciate and enjoy the services provided.
Through offering daily specials, the restaurant promotes its current customer base who enjoy the daily offers. This adds to the total customer satisfaction level, which in turn, enhances customer loyalty. The current menu is also commendable since it is well-themed with appropriate pricing for the foods offered. It is also aligned quite well with the restaurant’s unique proposition that portrays the diversity and prosperity of Chinese cuisine.
Competition is at an all-time high in Chinatown and the Bay area of San Francisco, where Chongqing Xiao Mian is located. This puts great pressure on the restaurant, forcing it to find ways of standing out as a unique enterprise among the many similar restaurants in the area. It has done this by cutting prices on many foods and setting a daily special offer menu that is meant to attract more customers.
At the same time, lack of an online store where customers can order food and have orders delivered to their places of convenience puts the restaurant at a disadvantage. Thus, some other restaurants like Spicy King, which is Chongqing Xiao Mian’s close competitor, have already established a strong online presence. This has reflected in the glowing reviews by customers, which promotes their business and attracts new customers.
The research into the restaurant’s operations and assessment of related data was a revelation for me since I was able to learn much about how to run a restaurant with a day-to-day functional skillset instilled in me from the experience. Apart from me gaining valuable knowledge from my internship and the competitive analysis of Chongqing Xiao Mian restaurant, I also collected crucial information about the restaurant, its business operations, customer relations, and competition, which can be used by the restaurant to maintain and develop its strengths while working on its weaknesses. This will enable it to establish a strong brand that will increase its market share, profits, and competitive advantage.
Section VI – Recommendations
Generally, Chongqing Xiao Mian’s current position is good with consideration to its specialization in Szechuan cuisine. There is high demand for the foods offered, and the restaurant does its best to make sure that it offers the best quality of service and meals provided, which is a commendable feature of the restaurant. However, a few challenges have become a drawback to its business operations and general competitiveness on the available market.
As mentioned earlier, the restaurant lacks a strong online presence since it does not have an online platform for customers to place an order and have it delivered to their places of choice. This is a major limitation in the current digital world, where technology has been integrated into every aspect of life (Baltzan, 2013). I would advise the restaurant’s owner to consider setting up an online store via a website to carter for the growing number of customers who prefer to order food from the comfort of their homes. The online market is a great opportunity for the restaurant, which could considerably increase its profits and enable it to have more flexible operations in relation to customer needs. It should also have a strong social media presence.
There is also need to establish a unique selling point that can be defined as a reason or way of letting customers know why they should choose this restaurant over its competitors. While a superb menu and excellent customer service are vital for success, they are not considered as unique selling points (Denny, 2013). They merely meet customer expectations. With a unique selling point, Chongqing Xiao Mian could exceed those expectations. This can be achieved by developing an original idea – something better than great food and service. The restaurant should offer a unique reason for customers to eat at that particular restaurant and not at some other. It offers the customers a feeling that enables them to remember it long after they are gone. It establishes an emotional connection that links them to the restaurant. Chongqing Xiao Mian should also conduct extensive research on its close competitors to find out their strengths and weaknesses. This will enable the management to find new ideas for services and offers that are not provided by the competition.
There is also need for strong branding by the restaurant as a marketing strategy. It should formalize its brand standards by having mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc. It should also formulate a marketing plan that will enable it to aim higher for its goals and easily measure its performance. Having taken into account all these recommendations, Chongqing Xiao Mian will be able to gain considerable competitive advantage over its competition. It will also be able to establish a unique branding and selling point that will considerably improve its revenue streams and increase its market share in this highly competitive business.