Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Howard Says: Close All Stores!!!!

"The notes and emails just keep coming" one barista told me just before flopping his head backward in a motif of exhaustion. He added: "Whatever Howard says....goes! Our wall says "Howard Says" and we have his emails posted there...."

Sudden impact!

$1 coffee, free wi-fi and now...the "emergency re-training" of baristas and the manner in which they make their drinks.

The hits keep coming. This is a man on a mission.

Howard says: close down every last store on Tuesday, February 26th starting at 5:30pm so every barista in each of the 7,100 Starbuck stores will learn how to improve the coffee. This is no doubt a fall out of years of declining quality in their core product: great, high quality coffee.

But how much can you change with an automated machine?

It turns out a few things are already taking place.

1. As of just today - February 13, 2008 - the partners are now pouring two shots instead of a single shot for each and every coffee made. 'Pulling' 2 shots improves the probability of a higher quality shot. It provides more balance and decreases the probability of a watered down shot of espresso.

2. As of today they are also administering shots of espresso into clear shot glasses. Before this change Starbucks baristas were merely administering them straigt into the paper cup. Pulling espresso into shot glasses allows the baristas to check for quality and consistency.

How do the partners feel about this "emergency" closing?

"It makes it seem like it was our fault when in fact the problems at Starbucks stem from decisions corporate made about the business in general over the last few yeasr...like growing too fast"

"This just makes it seem like its all our fault...."

Do others feel this way?

"Mostly...yes"

He added: "Other changes are coming...less knick knacks around the store....more focus on the coffee"

Amen.

Howard's next challenge: not only instituting long needed change, but maintaining and growing morale as Starbucks moves forward in the new era of Howard Says!

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2 comments:

An Bui said...

Interesting - Gawker was looking for someone to say something negative about the Starbucks retraining. Because coffee's so central to my happiness, I'm glad Starbucks is trying to head in a direction towards success.

Jamie R.S said...

Thanks An - I agree - I'm glad they are heading in the right direction and I'm confident that is exactly what is happening with Howard at the helm. I actually talked to a few baristas / partners / managers in Bellevue recently and conveyed my sentiment: this isn't about a negativity towards you - this is about makeing whole sale change - both real and perceptive - that is at the core of the sbux experience. They agreed. And - they all liked the training - had a good time. As far as the coffee - I'm not certain I notice a discernable difference yet, but this is a long term effort.