Monday, June 04, 2007

The Starbucks Experience - Joseph Michelli

Subtitled: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary. What a great read! I'm not even sure where to start. I was hooked from the first page to the last, and there are post-it flags in every chapter. Starbucks is a phenomenon. On that I think we can all agree. But they may well have created core business practices that could be a blueprint for companies in many other industries as well.

For those who love numbers, the numbers are impressive. The value of Starbucks has grown 5,000% since 1992. They have over 100,000 employees worldwide in over 37 countries, and their employees report an 82% job satisfaction rate. Starbucks opens five new stores a day, 365 days a year. Their employees who work 20 hours a week or more are entitled to health insurance.

None of that should be a surprise really. What is surprising is how this company set out to create a win-win-win for everyone whose world they touch. Corporately, they are committed to the well being and care of their employees (called "partners"), their partners are trained to focus on delivering the best possible experience (along with the coffee) to their customers. Starbucks gives to each local community in which they do business through their own charitable foundation and from the many volunteer hours their partners put into community based projects. They are committed to Fair Trade Certified coffee. They have a C.A.F.E. program that encourages the growers they do business with to work on sustaining their farming long term through good agricultural practices and taking care of their own people right down to the coffee pickers. They have a senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. How many companies have that on their org chart?

The book is just completely engaging. Probably more so if you actually go to Starbucks, which I do. I don't have one particular Starbucks I frequent on a regular basis, although part of their business model is that they are part of many people's daily routine and provide a "third place." In other words, people go to work, they go home, and they go to Starbucks. I'm not quite that committed to the product, but I consider it a treat to myself to spend that kind of money on a cup of coffee, and I'm generally never disappointed - not in the product or the experience that is delivered along with it. More and more, it's a great "experience" that people are looking for in their transactions with companies they've chosen to do business with. Starbucks has come up with a method to train their employees to deliver a consistently outstanding product along with a highly personalized and genuine experience to their customers. This is certainly not beyond the reach of other businesses - no matter what the industry.

I truly believe the principles they have developed in making Starbucks such a phenomenal success can be applied to any business. Perhaps not in exactly the same way, but the principles are fairly basic. At the very least, after reading the book you will notice a whole lot more the next time you go into a Starbucks. I'm in Georgia at the moment and for the last two mornings have gone to Starbucks for coffee at a store that opened only a month ago. Watching the baristas and partners take my order, handle the drive-thru window, and interact with the other customers in the store has taken on a great deal of interest to me. It is a bit different from my experience with stores in Northern Virginia, but all my experiences have been consistently good ones no matter what Starbucks I've stopped in. And that is the true magic behind the business they have created - consistent quality with a personal touch. This book is well worth the time invested and should be required reading for all CEOs and corporate management. I would love to work for an organization like this one, and I'm sure I'm only one of thousands who feel the same way.


Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Edalene said...

Thanks for writing this.