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January 19, 2009


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the dude

That's good news cuz we only have 2 people on the floor 99% of the time......... just say yes and keep going downward!

The dude smells big Pepsi coming around the corner cuz our cash flow numbers suck for the first quarter

My store has slowed down very little after the hollidays. We are still putting up similar numbers and are doing big over last year. Must be the area.

arabica bean

I work in Ontario, Canada, and our sales and customer counts were up this holiday over last year, but we've seen a huge drop since the new year. We're not quite down to two baristas on the floor, but our new priority is to control labour.

Jim Romenesko

I was at two Evanston Starbucks over the weekend, and both had just two employees working -- and they were running around like crazy, trying to keep up. There was no sign of a customer slow-down at either store.


I think it's encouraging that the majority still see Starbucks as "fancy" and higher up on the coffee chain than "regular joe."

If I were a SBUX bigwig, that would be very good to hear...for the brand.

Everyone is talking about cutting back, saving $, the labor reductions and who should be looked at for the next round of layoffs. Well tell me exactly what our RDs' job descriptions reads. They are just the extremely high paid "coaches" (and who has had the time for training or coaching?)

RDs are the glorified budget holders, messengers and hatchet men/women. They get the strategies from the RVPs then meet with the DMs. The tactics become reality from what the DMs tell the RDs what will work.

When issues arise through CV, Bus Compliance or PR level, the RDs instruct the DMs to coach the store teams or get a plan in place to get the SM or complaining partner gone.

When was the last time you had an RD in your store? Did he/she do anything more than do a quick Ecosure check? How about that fake cheerleader greating? Don't you get the standard RD question with a forced smile, "So how are you doing? Is there anything I can help you with?" And if any of us dare to say anything negative, on the next DM visit we all get a "coaching conversation."

So in my opinion the RDs are the ones with the $125K to $170K that could save SBUX some big dollars. Any comments?


Yea, my store has definitely slowed down, especially in the mornings. Numbers have barely been hitting what they used to, but during the night we always manage to keep up a god amount of business. We were over in labor by 4 or 5 hours this week and are suffering from the 'Malleus Managementallus'
One guy came in last night who said he hasn't been in the store for a wek (who used to be a regular). He gets a grande vanilla nonfat no whip mocha and says that by cutting starbucks to once a day, he's managed to lose 6 pounds. I said I wasn't surprised...


I'm inclined to think many of our customers have not returned because the line is too long.

People that received a gift card for Christmas and came in to use it waited forever. Not a pleasant Starbucks experience.


Completely agree with the post re: RDO's.

Middle management in bloated, and in self preservation, want to cut front line hours to save their own useless asses. Streamline management for the love of God.


You know, Seattle's Best franchises...that's a guaranteed return...

Former shift (Thank god I'm gone)

RDO's make $125k-$170k, wow!!!!


We're here for you with a ton off coffee in stock if your budget requires that you start making your own. And we're glad to help. Try the Casi Cielo, mmmmmgood.

To the comment above regarding RDs/RVPs. -
You don't always have to look all peaches to an exec. Sometimes they appreciate the truth, since they so rarely get it. The key is delivery.

I was working one morning when our order was supposed to have come in, but of course HFS never showed up. We were starting to run out of product, and since none of the stores in my district had gotten their order yet either, nobody was willing to transfer anything. My RVP walked in for a coffee and asked me what he could do to help. My response? "Find us product."

He never did help us, our order eventually showed up, and I never heard anything else of it. One thing is for sure - he looked half surprised and half satisfied that someone had actually been honest with him. I'm sure he never had any idea that HFS has been a consistent problem for us, and that in some situations they fundamentally undermine our ability to do business.


Is Howard helping to boost sales in the DC area today and tomorrow? Any siting of him or the SBUX jet in the other Washington?

Cut out the Heart

RD's come in all sizes. There are some that are exceptional, others that are average, and some that just care about themselves. Here is the rub, the July layoffs resulted in a number of exceptional RD's amongst others to be let go due to short sighted leadership. To let go higher paid people solely due to the fact that they make more money without also evaluating their contribution is just stupid. I know some HR VP bean counter type (does that sound like anyone) probably said that high paid people can be replaced by younger and less paid people without the company missing a beat. That is so contrary to leading thought on leadership and business strategy.

I have started to see some parallels between tactics Starbucks is using to that of Circuit City and we know what happened to Circuit City. For all those quality employees who remain at Starbucks I hope my observations prove to be wrong.

After losing WAMU and Safeco, the last thing Seattle needs is to lose another local big company especially if it were to some East Coast conglomerate like a Pepsi (though I know that is a totally unfounded rumor). My fear is that Howard and his gang have totally lost touch.


what? ... u r kidding..?? starbucks is slowed down ..?? no..?? wtf .. this is a luxury ... we just lost 1 million jobs ,,,, 1,000,000 .. yes starbucks is slower ... this has got to be the dumbest post ever .... ya think...omg...

thats like saying when gas was $5.00 a gallon that people were driving less.... omg ... you must be the same guy that makes starbucks put " beverage is hot" on the coffee cup ....

SBUX Alum Bill

I really don't think there's much substance to the Pepsico buyout rumor. Pepsi laid off 3,150 employees in 2008, and their sales volume was down by 3%. Also, their 1997 decision to spin-off Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell in 1997 indicates that they aren't likely to get back into fast food of any kind. I'm not sure they want to take on the headaches that SBUX would bring. Yum! Brands would be a much more likely suitor, if any.

Venti Urnex Latte

I always thought Starbucks was too expensive, even when I started there almost 10 years ago. I sometimes feel guilty charging so much. People spend thousands of dollars a year on their drinks. I would not drink Starbucks if I were a real customer. I would go there only on special occasions. The price of pastries, food and bottled drinks seems to be competitive with delis in the area but the price of coffee, tea and bar drinks is just way out of line.

For customers, it seems that the real value is they can stay there all day, use it as an office, stop in for a bathroom break, load up on napkins and other ancillary uses.

I agree that there are so many bloated layers of management. I have no idea what the district managers or the people above them actually do besides push paper. Does anyone know what a DM makes per year?


Here is a really interesting article about what you could do with your money instead of going to starbucks. I am not saying this is what you should do because I love starbucks I just found it rather interesting:



I agree Starbucks is overpriced when you consider the quality of the drinks. Maybe if you were getting a high quality drink made by someone who drinks espresso based drinks instead of soda or frapps and knows what they are doing. I've stopped going because the shots are so bad. When you send it back they just give you another one that is just as bad. And the way they steam milk is so pathetic you can't even consider capps. And to make matters worse you have Pikes. If you want a sugar bomb milkshake though...

The only way out is to focus on quality. Not just some three hour publicity stunt either. Too many people working there just don't care. I guess they feel they won't make a career out of it so they don't care about doing a good job. Just showing up is good enough for them.

Lets face it....when Starbucks was simply a really good and friendly coffee shop it was truly worth what you paid for it. I would go in every single day for two lattes...the baristas always new, my drink was alway accurate, and the wait was reasonable. Some weekends I would spend a few hours just hanging and reading the paper.

Now 7 years later...it is a little risky. My drink is not newly as good (even with the new equip), new baristas regularly, and it is truly a 50/50 shot as to whether my drink is right and if I get it in 5 minutes (it is not 7am, we are talking 10:20am.)

I worked for them for six years (4 as a manager) in between that time period, so we all not what happen! Year after year it was a new identity - desserts, pike, breakfast sandwich (come - gone - back again), vivanno, dulce, blueberry, orange, honey, etc. - the list goes on.

As a customer and a former employee (who truly misses the old days, yeah I know they are gone!) if they could or would ever focus on the coffee again I would go back. As it is I am searching for a local store, that will make a quality drink. I mean that with love because I know the pressure you are under!! Sorry!!

Does Howard serve Pepsi on his new jet?

Fake cheerleader RD? Are you talking about Jamie Denney?


My store's numbers are down too... this is the last time I'm going to post in a thread about the down turned economy... it's been discussed almost as much as Tips have!


My Starbucks @ 56th and Lafayette Rd (Indianapolis) seems to be up. Lines have been longer for awhile.


Oh PLEASE! Our beverage USD's are just as high, and higher on some days, than they were last year.

The ONLY thing people are cutting back on seems to be our crappy pastries.

Ryan (SS)

No Majicat, it's people like YOU that are the reason why we have to put "caution this beverage is hot".


Hahaha Ryan I was thinking the same as I read that post. "luke omfgzzz"


I'm sorry but i haven't seen any slowdown at any of the stores i buy from in fact i see more people online but less employees helping them.so please someone tell me where is there a starbucks that needs customers because i will drive there instead of waiting online for an hour and im not bs about waiting online for an hour


btw i have been to a few independent coffee houses in the brooklyn ny area and almost all the places coffee tasted like it was laying in the pot for days after the couple of places i went to i decide to stick with sb

Ryan (SS)

Hey Jim, any chance of a thread on the mandatory February meeting? Sounds like it could be an important one...my money is on the reformatting of districts and new duties for DM's that will give the SM's and management team more ownership over their store. It was talked about at the conference, anyone else remember?

And to ApronwearingBEANER: I usually just blurt out whatever comes into my mind, which is okay on the forum but not so good when I'm on the floor, haha =0


I'm still waiting to find out where the information is coming from about this alleged Feb. meeting. There's nothing on the portal, and nothing has been communicated to SMs about it. I don't see a need for a thread until we actually know for sure there is truly going to be such a meeting.


I don't think Pepsi would buy SBux. It is more likely that Howard would franchise all the stores to individual owners. THere are plenty of dummiesout there that would overpay for them because they buy the hype and idea of a cafe society that SBux never really was.

Then Hwie collects royalties off the top and the shop owners spend all of the moiney and suffer all of the losses. Howies does flyovers in his new jet at 30,000 feet using gas paid for by the money losing shop owners.

Brilliant. Lamost as smart as getting sheeple to overpay to spout a made up euro-sounding language to buy a coffee.

That, or he sell to Dunkin' Donuts, who has already made it in the franchise game.

my dm said, pretty much word for word, that there is a huge meeting coming up and that he is surprised with all the labor cuts/focus on low non-cov that they are pulling something that huge. that it must be something really big. hmm...

Naptown Barista #2

@Rob-We're doing our best. And we push to give out best.


I think people are still buying Starbucks, but they are buying cheaper items. Our customer count might be the same but we are selling more tall drinks and we are definitely selling more tea than ever before and that was before the new promo started.

Go tea!!!!

I have noticed a HUGE increase in tea sales in my store.People that were once quad venti syrup and soy latte people are now coming in for venti one bag teas.


I don't mean to be.. mean, but could some of you (I won't name names) please do some grammar/spell check? These posts look like a third grader composed them.

To the topic. Of course sales are down, labor is being cut and nearly all of the merchandise is on some sort of discounted sale. It's just time to tighten the belt. I'm thinking the only possible way you could be up in sales is if your store was either not open or brand new last year.


Has anyone heard about the combo meals yet!? Sbux=McDonalds!


Its just the hard times.. my tips have gone down. And my costumers that normaly bought bottled water now just ask for normal ice water..

Damian Karras

Here's something funny. Sales at my store fell dramatically last year, following the opening of two drive through stores within five miles. Since then, our sales have slowly started increasing again, and now, with just about every other store in the district experiencing a loss in sales compared to last year, we're still climbing, very slowly, a little bit at at time, but we are climbing. What's the difference? We've been seeing customers who were at one time regulars in other stores. They aren't frequenting Starbucks stores as often, but they come to us when they do. Why? For four or five dollars a pop, they want their drinks made right and they want someone at least friendly serving them. We've got that.

I've posted on here a few times, hitting corporate kind of hard about some of the things they're doing (45 million dollar jet while you're cutting labor), because it's just basically wrong. But, at the same time, if you can't give your customers a decent value (a great product at a competitive price) and good service (yeah, some of them are idiots, but the majority of customers just want their drinks, and a smile), you're going to fall apart.

This is also a part of why I have been speaking out against the labor cuts. If you don't have enough people in your store to handle the volume, your service suffers, and right now, we have to offer every bit of value we can to our customers, specifically to make sure they are spending that extra money with us, not someone else, and I don't mean just coffee.

If you can actually be friendly and warm to people in times like these, it makes a difference, and they will keep coming back, just to get their day lifted a little. That's what's happening in my store. We are trying to make that third place, because we actually believe in that, whether corporate does or not. Screw them, this is about us, our survival, and our customers.

erik in new york

I buy Starbucks French Roast, it's wonderful, I make it at home. It's never offered in the actual stores, and I cant make myself stand in line for Pike Place, it's just not that good. Breakfast Blend is possibly the worst coffee I've ever had, and I cant remember the name of the other really awful one (Sumatra?) but it's literally undrinkable. Medicinal. Horrible.

The breakfast/lunch options in the Wall St area are pretty bad, but there are a few better places to get coffee. Not many. But the French Roast is great! It's the only thing I buy there besides apple fritters.

Supposed Eric

Cars on the road are down 4% from a year ago. I don't think something like that could avoid affecting Starbucks in proportion. Sales in general have to be down slightly.

Those changes in labor though were stupid. To my perspective as a somewhat committed customer, it's "a little less" convenient, "a few more" minutes. To a new customer (YOU ALWAYS NEED NEW CUSTOMERS) it's got to look awful. Of course because I'm commenting on a blog mostly read by the folks who are getting fewer hours or who have friends getting fewer hours, I must be preaching to the choir.

There was some puff piece about Starbucks going back to how American coffee brands (Folgers et al) had switched from arabica to robusta and their frequent drinkers didn't mind, but the kids tasting coffee for the first time thought it was awful (offal). The takeaway is you can feel like you're getting away with something when the regulars don't complain, but you're not getting away with it.

I could easily find myself bringing a hot beverage from home instead of buying Starbucks on the way to work, and if I lost my job I certainly would not go out to the bux anymore.

@erik in new york: Sumatra Benji? Hey, that's my favorite!

Brian AA


Brian AA

I haven't been in Starbucks in about a year. Went to get one plain coffee (yeh, call me strange). They said it would be 5-7 minutes (they had to brew a new pot). I asked them to leave room for milk...They didn't. With the tip jar looking me straight in the face...I gave...Didn't really want to. I also burned my hand from spilling the overfull cup. I was ticked that day. If Starbucks couldn't get coffee right then they're in trouble...it's their bread and butter!! Yes, I know everyone has a bad day and the girls behind the counter were trying. It's just that I go to McDonalds now to get my coffee. One buck...as much 1/2 and 1/2 as I need. As much sugar and Splenda as I need...with no tip. Money is tight and now so am I. Brian

Even though money is tight I still remain loyal to my neighborhood SBX. I like all the baristas but 1. She is always mean, never smiles, and is always so serious. But everyone else rocks. But you know whats funny.. I go there everyday.. sometimes twice a day because I know that I will be treated well. But if I had to see that same mean barista each day, I would probably start making my own coffee at home more. I have a Magnifica. Now is not the time to start compromising customer service. If you are going to do layoffs, layoff the mean people who obviously hate their job and it shows. It will help retain customers.


I realize I'm late to this thread and just a customer, but want to put in my 2 cents. I am NOT cutting back on Starbucks. In fact, in this economy, I'm probably visiting Starbucks more than usual. However...and this is the critical differential...I'm pickier now about the Starbucks I visit!


(Shouldn't be an "aha" moment, but probably is...)

No longer, am I just looking for a Starbucks to drive through. Nope, now I'm being particular. I go to the one or two Starbucks where I have a good perfect-drink-history, and...even MORE likely...where they see me and remember my drink. (That's not a major dealbreaker or anything, but it's a nice touch.)

I'm not alone. (See above comment. Probably many others...haven't read through them all yet.) We will still go to Starbucks. I want...in fact, I desperately NEED...my Starbucks fix, but I want it made correctly and I'll go (and tip VERY well, btw...like EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) out of my way to the one(s) that do it well.

Gasoline prices have lowered. Customers like me who can go out of their way to their SBUX-of-choice, will continue to do so!

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