4.5 Based on an analysis of the last six months’ sales, your boss notices that sales of beef products are declining in your chain’s restaurants. As beef entrée sales decline, so do profits. Fearing beef sales have declined due to several newspaper stories reporting E. coli contamination discovered at area grocery stores, he suggests a survey of area restaurants to see if the situation is pervasive.
What do you think of this research suggestion?
Management posed a research question which is very vague and open-ended. According to Cooper and Schindler (2014) “Whether the researcher is involved in basic or applied research, a thorough understanding of the management question is fundamental to success in the research enterprise” (p. 77). Proverbs 19:2 states, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (ESV). Before any external research is conducted, there should be an internal survey of customer satisfaction regarding price, menu options, and suggestions for improvements. Once the internal survey is conducted and analyzed, the external research could be formulated for surrounding restaurant chains. The first question to management would be “Are we hiring a research firm to conduct the investigation of the surrounding restaurant chains? The Container Store (snapshot on page 79) demonstrates a good example of why companies hire outside firms to conduct research. Suggestions would be made to management to partner with a firm whom specializes in business research. “Dedicated market research businesses procure the latest enterprise-level tools, read all the books, attend all the events, are thought leaders, free from bias, information is more secure, and spend their working lives trying to outmaneuver the competition (Matthews, 2015)
How, if at all, could you improve on your boss’s formulation of the research question?
To improve on the boss’s formulation of the research question, the first step would be to gain more clarification of the research question. Management could make predictions about how the business would perform, but “without the right information a company can’t properly prepare nor decide the next step for the business” (Research, 2017). The major point of the research is to ascertain why beef entrée sales are declining in the restaurant food chain. The management dilemma is the decline of sales and loss profits from beef entrées. Management and the researcher should try to “develop other questions by progressively breaking down the initial question. This outcome would be known as the management-research question hierarchy” (Cooper & Schindler, 2014, p. 77). The researcher and management could begin by analyzing actual problems management is currently dealing with, such as:
1. Why entrée sales have been declining over the past six months?
2. How can management resolve the profit loss? Will rearranging the menu to add more poultry and seafood entrée’s curtail losses sustained by beef entrée’s?
3. To avoid potential E-coli contamination, would removing all beef entrée’s from the menu suffice until the problem with E-coli has been resolved?
4. Grocery stores have recalled all beef products, should we send out and article, news report, or radio message in an attempt to reassure our customers?
5. How has the beef contamination affected other food chains?
6. What measures can we put in place to increase the profit margin? Should we provide other varies of food (vegan, vegetarian, etc.)?
7. Is the beef we offer being serviced from the same supplier as the grocery stores? If so, is there another supplier whose beef comes highly recommended from other restaurants?
Cooper and Schindler (2014) also stresses there are some management questions that are complex and bound by constraints, and management’s motivations are not always obvious (pp.88-89). In this case, management is driven by profit loss and possible E-coli contamination.
Anonymous (2017). Why is your company not conducting market research. Retrieved from http://blog.qsample.com/why-is-your-company-not-conducting-market-research/
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2014). Business research methods (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. The ISBN for this textbook is 9780073521503.
Matthews, D. (2015). The pros and cons of in-house and outsourced research. Retrieved from https://www.raconteur.net/business/the-pros-and-cons-of-in-house-and-outsourced-research