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January 28, 2009

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let them eat (reduced fat coffee) cake

I am very very mad about all of this to say the least. I am no longer with starbucks, but my "family" is. All the baristas and shifts I talk to fear for their jobs every day. My SM still has never closed or worked a weekend, she seems to be doing just fine.

Before I left I begged my SM to give me extra time to work with a new lady on espresso drinks (I was a SS and LC). Nobody ever gave her a chance... by her first review she still had the most minimal experience on bar, being pushed out of the way for speed and tossed aside during downtime to clean and close up. That's all she knew... closing tasks and register. It was a goddamn outrage. Meanwhile my SM who was scheduled as coverage would be pulled off the floor for hours to have a meeting with the DM and the safe would be beeping and the lines through the cafe and past the DT speaker... so a perfectly willing partner slipped between the cracks. I have a feeling after I left nobody bothered to notice she can't make drinks... and I have a gut feeling that her lack of knowledge will be cited when she is handed her walking papers. Like so many others.
I felt like the write ups at my store were just getting ridiculous (Shirt not tucked in. Not smiling enough.) and at the end I was embarrassed to be working there.

Poor management costs money. I hope instead of "weeding out" the bottom rung, the company recognizes that it needs to start at the top.

The very top. Howard Schultz, you are a disappointment.

ndemystic

Looks like management has caught up to these posts and are now puting their 2cents in.

ndemystic

I was not commenting about Let them eat cakes post but the 3 or 4 posts before him.

CamSpi

@MN-SM:
I KNOW! It sucks! But I still don't entirely blame howard.
And it doesn't mean I'm going to stop my optimism.

ndemystic

I will try that again, my above comment was not directed at Let The Eat Cake but intended for the suits at corporate who posted from the previous page.

FLA SM

"When you start to actually give at least 90% for the job you are hired for, maybe then we will start to see our customers loyalty again! The ones who actually come for the coffee we sell ..."

(I think you mean "used to sell." No more bold after noon and decaf is hit or miss. Black apron exclusives gone. Decaf Komodo, the only decaf using the swiss water method, gone. Columbia, gone. Yukon, gone. etc.)

" ... which up until the point it gets to the store is great until the baristas start to work with it and don't give a damn about sampling, getting to learn the coffee, taking the time to brew french presses, and keep the brew on our urns fresh! ..."

(I think you mean the company doesn't give a damn about sampling, getting to learn the coffee, or taking the time to brew french presses. Now that our labor has been cut and our non-coverage is virtually gone, we don't have time for that stuff anymore. One person on register and one person at the bar with a constant line doesn't really allow for much time to do anything except the job at hand.)

"... All the damn good benefits we have are supposed to be rewards for doing a good job, they are not guaranteed for 1/2 ass jobs!"

(First of all, benefits are part of the total pay package, not "rewards." Secondly, you should have written "benefits we USED TO have." Personal days, gone. 401k, likely gone. Health insurance, ever-increasing cost. SIP program, slashed. Bean stock grants, worthless.)

All we see from "the suits" is ME ME ME! $45M jet. (That's the THIRD jet.) Store closings, layoffs, "optimal" scheduling, labor cuts, more store closings, stupid promotions, useless leadership conference, no advertising support, etc. Yeah, all those things are REALLY helping me out at the store level. I can't believe I'm so greedy.

Jim C

Hey "DVW"
I see you are making an allusion to Wal-Mart, and that Starbucks can't be that bad because someone didn't make a documentary about them. If you listened to today's investor conference call, you would have heard Howie say very clearly -
"We are going back to our vendors, some of them who have become successful because of us, and we are going to ask them to reduce costs to us." That is the quote, and that makes Starbucks practices towards their vendors exactly like Wal-Mart's. No Shared Planet V2V bull-honky here - Howard said it plain and simple, if you are a vendor to Starbucks, you have to sell it to us cheaper than you were before. That means the vendor will cut costs by trimming staff, using inferior ingredients, cut employee benefits and pay minimum wage. Starbucks is following the Wal-Mart way.
And the McDonald's way, also, with the value-priced bundles.

Melody

[quote=K-dog]Melody, I doubt Howard had the heart to answer that final question himself.[/quote]

Yes, the final two minutes of the investor relations conference call were the most telling. I believe that Howard Schultz has a heart still (despite having made a number of decisions I dislike), and the answer to the very last investor question* would have sounded warmer and more palatable coming from Howard than Cliff Burrows.

I don't even like hearing Mr. Burrows call it a "lean" store. To me it connotes this image of gaunt baristas who aren't eating right because they're being worked so hard.

Why not call it simply an "efficient" store or a "stream lined" store or even a "new barista flow program" (that last one doesn't sound good, I admit).

----------------------------------------
*If you didn't hear the conference, the last investor question was about reconciling "store level cost savings" (labor cuts) and "elevating the Starbucks experience". Cliff Burrows took the question and answered talking about a "lean" store again and talked about 'simplifying the promotional calendar' and 'slowing the rate of innovation' in the stores.

Frank-

That image of Orin Smith in the recycling bin is VERY descriptive of the current situation. During another thread, I wished that we could have Orin back, and another partner (only one though) seemed to be with me on that. I say we start an online petition to send to Howard that says something like "Step down, step away, and bring back Orin". Now, I don't think Howard is a bad man, and I think he really does want to do what's right, but I don't think he knows what that is and he is way too emotionally invested.

BRING BACK ORIN SMITH!

Screwbux

Time for Howard to go back in the box.

K-Dog

You know, Orin was always the man behind the "business" (and I have a lot of respect for him), but if it was Howard Behar's cut-out in the recycling bin - now that would have been apropo.

bigredbarista

@Crema_the_crop

"I believe the "bonus" program would in fact be the whole-bean sales incentive. It was announced on Monday, along with the changes to the Vivanno recipe and the new decaf brewed coffee initiative. It seemed to me like a weak, feeble attempt at a shot in the arm for the store-level employees.

Remember Black Apron Exclusives? The kits that came with those books, and preground packs for the brewers?

Remember coming on in the morning, smelling the open bullets of a spicy and herbal Komodo Dragon, a round and nutty House Blend, and some actually-worth-tasting decaf Sumatra?

Working on passports, doing coffee master tastings and pairings..."

THANK YOU for letting me reminesce on the good times. I'm a SS and have been with the company for just about 2 years... I still have pride and hope for this company, but anymore layoffs and I don't know if I can take it anymore. I have seen my previous stores I've been with on the chopping block and I am scared that my store is next.. We need to get rid of worthless products i.e. Vivanno, Tea Lattes, etc.. and perhaps lower our prices? Wouldn't that help business in a way? I'll be working my butt off these next few months to keep my store in great spirits..

no melon

Today was an "official SBux cold day" where Chgo customers were offered a free tall tea bevage from 2-5 pm while supplies lasted. Can Sbux really afford this ploy? And doing it today w/the announced store closings and layoffs is a bite in the butt for all who lost their jobs today or will be on the forthcoing store closure list. The joker who came up w/ this idea should be included in the bunch to be terminated. So long, Sbux, we hardly knew ye - I'm going to run out my Sbux card thrn head over ti Panera or Caribou. The book "Grande Expectations posited Sbux. Was in the real estate businessn not the coffee business. Sounds about right to me.....

SoOverIt

I am getting the f*ck out of this company as fast as I can. I am about to move and hopefully transfer, and when that happens I will be looking around for another job as fast as my feet can carry me. They're taking away vacation, they're taking away personal days, they're taking away hours. What else is there to take away?

lattegal

bigredbarista -

"I believe the "bonus" program would in fact be the whole-bean sales incentive. It was announced on Monday, along with the changes to the Vivanno recipe and the new decaf brewed coffee initiative. It seemed to me like a weak, feeble attempt at a shot in the arm for the store-level employees."

You are right! The comment made by Cliff Burrows was misleading. A "bonus scheme" for all partners based on their sales sounds like partners have the opportunity to bonus. But having a whole-bean sales incentive where the money goes to the store for a party is really not the same as a bonus scheme.

Plus in reality...money given to the "entire store" is not a great idea. Half the time the parties don't take place and when they do half of the partners aren't even there. If you are going to use the word "BONUS" then set up something where each employee is paid a $1 personally for each pound of coffee that they sell. That might excite some baristas.

Caramel Macchiato

The DMs are getting stretched thin too. The latest round left most DMs with at least 15 stores each. If they're good, they can visit each store twice a month... if that.

I'll be curious to see where the majority of the closures are slated. We could see a handful of DMs and possibly a RD be cut.

Unfortunately, they're running out of room to cut. Cutting personal days will probably save them about $10 million per fiscal year. The biggest areas of opportunity within the store are coffee and dairy variance.

Additionally, the commenter early on was right--in all the shock and disappointment, we're missing the point that Starbucks still posted a nearly $70 million quarterly profit. And, that is after the one-time charges related to store closures. While that is a significant drop from last FY, Starbucks is now a mature company with only modest growth potential. Investors are pricing that into the stock.

coffee

I think the "scheme" Cliff was referring to is the fact that sm and asm bonus on meeting at least 90% of their top-line sales targets; whereas they formerly had to meet controllable contribution targets. Theoretically, this makes it easier for sm's to bonus and makes them focus on hitting sales targets and not just controlling labor and inventory. But, as others have pointed out (unless the sm shares their bonus in some fashion with the whole stores), this "scheme" does not drive baristas and shift supervisors to hit targets, nor does it reward them. The upcoming whole bean incentive is just that, an incentive (much like last year's whole bean, pike place and vivanno incentives.)

as a store manager who started as a barista 6 years ago...I am disappointed with the current dissions and with what they mean to my baristas and shift suppervisors who are the front line of our company. They are upholding the core of what we are founded on and are truly giving all to connect with each customer and try to keep up with the fast pace change this corporation has decided they need to do without the time to train. I will be stepping down and possibly out as this company no long holds true to its values,mission, & cares about its partners or coffee.

Me

I applaud Howard for taking the pay cut and lead by example. This is the kind of leadership we need to see. Run ahead and (at least kind of) live what you preach.
Thank you!

SirenBlazing

I, for one, feel bad for the HOURLY, RETAIL, STORE-LEVEL partners. Sorry, Melody, I don't share the same level of concern for SSC partners that you seem to do. These hourly partners are getting shafted, plain and simple, and the level of disrespect shown to them over the the last year has been inexcusable.

I wonder how Starbucks and Howard in particular releases messages such as this with a straight face. What a joke this company has become.

BOSTON STARBUCKS REBEL

I think Starbucks should close their stores from 1:00-4:00 PM each day. It could be called the Starbucks Siesta.

redcup

I'm curious how the RMT program is doing these days. All you MCMs out there, do you guys still have trainees? I can't imagine there's a lot of new external SMs these days. Also CFs, I'm assuming those Experience classes are half empty at the most?

Melody

[quote=SirenBlazing]I, for one, feel bad for the HOURLY, RETAIL, STORE-LEVEL partners. Sorry, Melody, I don't share the same level of concern for SSC partners that you seem to do. These hourly partners are getting shafted, plain and simple, and the level of disrespect shown to them over the the last year has been inexcusable.[/quote]

I do feel for the store level partners too. I feel for them all the time, and especially when I can see the weary look in their eyes.

There are very real people inside of the SSC who are working hard to make sure the experience works for all of us. I've shaken a few hands and met a few of them. There's only a very tiny number where I might put a name with a face. But for me, the SSC is not a vague far away planet with mysterious alien Pike Place Roast operations. In fact, from one particular vantage point in Seattle, where you can sometimes find me Monday through Friday, I look through big south facing windows, past 2 stadiums, and the top of the SSC sticks out, smiling at me. I can't help but have a big heart for SSC people who are getting laid off. It's just who I am. And yes, I definitely care about store level partners too.

Admiral70

Perhaps now is the time to start think about franchising?

I must say if my local SB closes I will not be going to a different location. I will instead switch to a different coffee house like Dutch Bros and SB will lose my $4 to $10 a day 7 days a week.

Rough times out in the world right now.

dvw

Hi Jim C:

Nope. I "alluded" to the fact Starbucks isn't any worse than most others, right now. Vacation? PART-TIME health, personal days? What nationwide company offers all that and has like 10-20 employees on average per location? I think, as a YOUNG barista, i have been spoiled. For my first job? Those were over expectations in terms of benefits. At least I still get paid and work at a 20K+ store.

lattegal

Caramel Macchiato -

I didn't know about the SM/ASM new bonus plan but Cliff Burrows didn't speciiy that he insinuated that "all partners" were eligible for this new bonus scheme.

About the milk variance...we throw out so much milk. We have to put out 3 carafes of milk every hour (breve, nonfat, & whole) and the only milk that is used is breve. We generally throw away all of the nonfat and whole milk...it's such a waste. Perhaps the stores need to be told to evaluate their business and adjust the number of carafes set out, just like they are having everyone do with the decaf. This would save a TON of milk.

hearbutloud

The only thing that sucks about this is the people who will be losing their jobs. We DO have too many Starbucks in the country - more than is necessary to serve each community's needs. The only reason there are so many is because the public demands convenience. All Starbucks is doing is reevaluating the needs of the communities they serve and closing stores that are in excess of that. Baristas, SS, and SM's: keep your noses clean and you will keep your jobs.

ExtraFoamy

The whole bean incentive crap is so beyond flawed. Nobody gives a crap about lame "store parties". Seeing the $1 directly on my check is a nice idea, except what if I don't have the till? How are the partners who actually walk out onto the floor to help the customer, or talk with them while on bar going to get credit for the sale?

Give us back NC hours to have a barista in the lobby french pressing and discussing coffee..that is what increases whole bean sales, not "oh and would you like to add a lb of whatever to your order today?". Bring back the customer passports, give the customers the chance to sample and learn about your products instead of shoving it in their face with a pushy sales-barista.

lattegal

I'm thankful that health benefits are still available. I can give up 2 4 hour personal days a year if that will help the business but I'd hate to have to lose my health insurance.

ExtraFoamy

lattegal:

you should only be putting out the half and half, whole and nonfat should be kept in the fridge and offered upon request.

lattegal

ExtraFoamy -

Yes, that's what I would like to do but my SM insists that all 3 are to be out.

Karl Kenya

Has anybody noticed their tips going up? I've had more than a few customers drop a couple extra bucks in the tip jar saying they'd rather us have it than Starbucks.

Woot for that!

SFBarista

Well, today's news is not all that surprising to anyone, is it?

In or store, we were told by the SM and ASM to stand around for hours and just markout partner beverages that were never consumed simply to increase our transactions per half hour - which skewed our labor allocation. In other words, ring fake transactions.

So as a result, our store is overstaffed by 50% because the labor forecast kept saying we were busy and could hire more people.

That's a cost, folks, and given the fact SBUX is a publicly held company, this practice constitutes fraud, which is illegal and could be criminal. (in simple language, it's known as "cooking the books").

Our DM had no idea this was happening and when he found out about this practice, he rightly blew a gasket (the DM may be on the chopping block in this round which is really sad because he's a good guy with strong ethics and good leadership skills)- the markouts for fake partner beverages supposedly stopped immediately per his instruction, although our SM and SS can still be seen sneaking in a fake partner beverage transaction once in a while.

This practice is allegedly wide-spread throughout our region with few exceptions. So as a result, of the fraud perpetrated by store management, the hourly Baristas are fighting tooth and nail just to get hours to remain qualified for health care because there is no Starbucks policy regarding layoffs in reverse-seniority order (i.e., last in, first out). We have hired too many people in our store and as a result, everyone is suffering.

if the company were smart, they would audit EVERY store for such examples of fraud and fire those SM/ASM first. I'll bet the underperforming stores may only look weak in comparison because they are following the rules and staying ethical. Managers may think there are no real consequences for marking out fake partner beverages other than getting more labor, but the goods supposedly used are accounted for in a whole different way and that can impact the legitimacy of the store's P&L statement.

Not getting SM to understand this simple fact or allowing it to happen is a huge failure of the part of Corporate training - what, do they think everyone tells the truth all the time? Unfortunately, people don't always understand the implications of their seemingly innocent actions.

ExtraFoamy

lattegal:

I'm pretty it's company wide that we only keep the half and half out at all times and other two in the fridge unless requested. However I totally understand what it is like to have an SM that likes to run by their own policies because "they simply think their way is better"..if that's the case, my sympathies.

tealatte

I've always been proud of Starbucks mission, values, and guiding principles. I had thought Starbucks was an exceptional company, a different kind of company. When the good times rolled, they were. But now, Starbucks is just like everybody else, cutting costs and laying people off, only wishing them the best of luck. After all, "business is business," right? The benefits at Starbucks are great, but barista and shift supervisor hourly pay rates are very modest. Especially compared to the mere 9.7 mil Howard cleared last year; (according to a report released yesterday) which was a pretty rough year for him.

DARKROAST

@lattegal & Extra Foamy: at each of the four different stores I've worked at during my tenure at da Bux, the SM's were absolutely ANAL about having all 3 carafes out! It was insane the amount of milk we'd waste!
As for the lay-offs, I had an inkling like this would pop up when the company delayed sending out our W-2's this year (try and find a partner who's received theirs!). I'll be honest--I'm scared. But I'm optimistic.

Rocker

As a sb customer who has to wait online for almost an hour everyday for there coffee i have to say the quality of ppl being hired at sb has gone down over the years and now i see why.When i first went to sb seven years ago the ppl who worked there loved what they were doing and seemed to love the brand now fast forward to present and now sb seems to hire a bunch of young kids who's you can go f yourself attitude is more suited for a McDonald's then an sb.If you don't believe me go to any sb near the world trade center site in lower manhattan in new york city

erstwhile

@rocker

the reason employee quality has gone down is because the 'bux has stopped paying people real living wages. the only applicants that managers get are high school kids and people with "issues," and the occasional diamond in the rough. but those diamonds don't stick around once they've graduated college, more often than not. retail jobs are high turn, and with labor and training hours cut, it's not very easy to get sub-par people up to speed.

there are a lot of people with negative attitudes at starbucks, but you're going to be confronted with people that have negative attitudes ANYWHERE they're being payed just barely minimum wage.

Regarding a combo menu: I really hope they intend just to give customers a discount if they order a latte + pastry/sandwich together, and that the POS would calculate that automatically. I know some markets have the new POS system that was shown in NOLA, so I hope that functionality would be realistic. I know it won't happen on our current platform, though.

Moiraine

I'm really bummed out about all the Starbucks hating I have been hearing lately.
Maybe I am just less educated than some people, who think that Starbucks is a terrible company who is hacking our benefits to bits, etc. etc., and can apparently find much better jobs.
I have already had many other jobs. I have worked for quite a few large companies in my adult life, including Barnes & Noble, Guardian, Nordstrom, Wells Fargo and even Taco Bell in my teenage years.
I love the fast pace of SB's because it keeps me busy. I get bored in an office.

It is amazing to me, how many large companies don't even offer benefits, or if they do, find ways not to give them to you. Barnes & Noble for example, sqeezes most of their employees in just under the mark, so that they are not required to pay benefits.
On the other hand, I only have to average 20 hours a week to keep mine. And they might not be as cheap as I would always like, but they could definitely be worse, and I didn't have dental insurance at all as an adult until I started working for the Buck. I am 32.
Personally, I am thrilled that I even HAVE bennies. I am thrilled right now that I still have a job.
I also work for a store that is closing. It is now nearly February and we have known since July. Due to third party negotiations with the people we rent our space from, we haven't been able to close yet.
It would have been easier on us if it would have happened sooner. Waiting, not knowing, has been tedious and stressful, but despite that we have a great crew and try to keep our spirits up.

I know that Starbucks, like all companies, makes mistakes. Sometimes they roll out something that doesn't go over so well, but I still think it's nice that they try new things. I sometimes get frustrated, but I still know that I work for a great company who cares about me more than a lot of other companies would, and also cares about our communities and where we get our product.
Working at Starbucks is also kind of like a family...we share partners with other stores and many of us in the city know each other. There is a lot of good. I don't want to get caught up in the negative, which I would find no matter where I worked.
There are jerks and bad managers in every large company.
Starbucks is still a company worth working for. They are feeling the crunch like everyone, and I can see that they are trying all the time to find ways to cut expenses, rather than lose partners.
I just wanted to say that.

P.S. To the jerk who made the comment about Howard buying a jet...Starbucks made the purchase order for the new jet over two years ago, to replace an existing one that was starting to wear down. The company has two, which is not unreasonable as we are an international company and our leaders ought to be able to fly to our international offices without criticism from the likes of you.
It's always popular to hate the guy at the top.

Lana castillo

Don't the employees deserve to know ahead of time if you are planning on closing their store? They need to prepare for the layoff.

JavaKuhlDude

No one likes store closures or job cuts. No one likes the idea of taking away things that were once part of a benefits package. Big surprise.

The new reality is that everything has changed. Not just in America, but around the world.

To me, it isn't that Starbucks suddenly stopped doing the right things and fewer customers came as a result, but rather that the economy is so sucky EVERYWHERE that people are cutting back on all their spending. Starbucks isn't immune from the larger picture, and even if stores doubled staffs, made top quality drinks 100% of the time, and tripled barista salaries to keep the best partners on board, there is still no reason to think that customers would automatically come marching back to the stores. Customers are afraid for their own futures, and are electing to keep their money in their wallets until they feel the future is brighter.

People complain about the store closures, but no matter how painful for those affected, it really is the right thing to do for the company overall. If you owned 3 dry cleaning shops or 3 pizza restaurants and 2 of them made money but 1 lost money year after year, you would be foolish to keep that 3rd one open and risk the survival of the remaining 2. Sometimes doctors have to amputate a limb to save the body.

If you were in business for yourself and thought it was more important to keep people employed but suffer losses, then you may have very good intentions but also very poor business skills, and you wouldn't be around very long!

Wishing the world and the economy were different doesn't make it so. Blaming Howard, Cliff, or Martin for the company's poor performance is scapegoating. Howard isn't serving improperly made drinks or failing to engage with the customer. He is trying to lead us out of a bad situation with a minimum of pain for the whole.

Microsoft, Boeing, IBM, Home Depot, Pfizer, and General Motors all announced thousands of layoffs due to the slowed economy. Somehow Starbucks is supposed to be "special" and avoid similar layoffs? If so, then I think you've been breathing much too deeply on your Rooiboos Tea Infusion...

JavaKuhlDude, you couldn't have said anything better.

People, gain a little pespective and realize that Starbucks is still, comparatively, a great place to work. If you don't like it and are so fed up with it, then by all means, go find somewhere better for you.

What the company is going through isn't unique to just us, and you can't really point fingers with any credibility. The best people to be blaming right now are our global leaders who made decisions about our economies that are putting ALL of our daily lives and these companies in similar positions.

yo

i saw all of this coming....what kind of people are running this business???

this is ridiculous.

wtf

I think this whole cut down has a lot to do with the economy, but at the same time, its also to pay for the stupid mistkaes of opening up so many stores without further consideration. As well as over my years of working and going to sbux, I have seen MANY MANY partners (baristas to DMS) that really should not be working for the company or at least should not be in that particular position. However, they had to be promoted because of the vast expansion. Thats just DUMB! the reason that customers get so so coffee MIGHT be the corporate's fault, but not getting great customer service is DEFINITELY store partner's responsibility. we've seen WAY too many hire out of desperations. The benefits being cut is really a sad thing, but i think we are still better in the reatil industry. I truly feel sorry for all the partners that had to leave and the stores that had to be closed down. But this would be a really good time for the company to start looking at the partners and really keep the best of the best and not the ones that just do the very minimal.

also, with that in place, a DM should be able to handle 30 stores easy. because you should not have to MANAGE a store for your managers if they were promoted/hired as the right person.

Barista Ben

Hum. This makes me a bit nervous about my store. Still, honestly, a lot of the people I work with are using starbucks as a job until we get out of college and get real jobs. My buddy just got her nursing license and shes off to make a lot more then all of us doing real work stuff.

I gotta agree with the DM statement. They could really... do with some trimming.

Same goes with ASM's. No offense but all too often I see ASMs that are just in the ASM limbo spot. They never want to be a SM but they want the extra pay/stable hours of a ASM. I know one whose been an ASM for a few years now and has no intention of going up. Now hes in the way of other people who might want to become a SM.

They should do away with ASMs and just have managers in training.

wtf

barista ben,

I think ASM are still a nice position to have, but just not that many. I have been in 4 stores that had differenet numbers of ASMs, and I truly feel that the number of ASM should be cut in half. if you had 4 you only need 2, if you had 2 you only need 1, if you had 1, I am pretty sure you dont need it.

also with the DM, the average store visit should only be about 2-3 hours, there is NOTHING that you need to do or talk about that will take longer than that. and the 8 hours District meetings has been a joke, it is really time to start looking and TRIM AND LEAN down the work flow.

I know a few DMs that are great leaders, at the same time, there are other DMs to me are just like "um, did you get promoted because you are sleeping with the AM/RD?"

thats right, I just said it

Novina

Starbucks is struggling like every other company out there. Layoffs are happening everywhere. This is not all howards fault--ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? There were some poor decisions made along the way with store openings. But that is certainy not the reason for the current struggle.

Everyone played a role. Most people live outside their means. people used credit cards for their instant gratification. I'm sure their Starbucks was "swipped" away with the thought, "its only a couple bucks". Now the thought is "$5 dollars for coffee!" Many have maxed out.

I would like to lay a lot of blame on our banks who offered adjustable loans to anybody and everybody. Who are the financial idiots who thought they could double people's mortages? Too bad people thought this was a reasonable deal.

This is a horrible catch 22 we are in right now. many lose their homes due to the adjustable mortgage rate. those cannot put money back into the economy. Gas has gone up, grocceries are rediculous, credit cards are maxed and interest rates float up, health insurance goes up, Money gets tighter. So less money goes back into the economy. Luxeries are cut--Starbucks. Businesses feel more heat--more layoffs to stay afloat. Banks decide to raise rates on commercial loans--trying to bring in money from somewhere. business with commercials loans are now feeling the heat of the economy. Many companies put a freeze on raises. Mine did. Everyone is affected.

This is a tough time. there will be a getting worse before getting better. With layoffs still happening, that will definately lead to more forclosed homes and so on. this cycle needs to stop. But perhaps it does need to bottom out first.

Yes Starbucks made a $64 mil profit in 08--so why would they choose to layoff more people and close more stores? well the previous years profit was $208 mil. They better take proactive steps in an economy that IS going to get worse before better. They better sever an arm to save the body. or there will be no profit in 09, just loss and pretty soon no Bux. Starbucks has to make cuts like everyone else.

The Art of Successful Cooking

Just want to say that I feel sympathy for all the employees affected by this.

Darleen

When I left Starbucks in July when all the lay offs were happening I thought to myself "another 300 stores will close soon". My heart goes out to all of those affected by this. I remember for the first two+ months after my separation, all I did was cry every day and wonder what my life would be like after Starbucks. I even remember commenting that my separation from Starbucks hurt more than my divorce from my first husband (only have been married twice and still am) so I can really empathize with what the folks that are being laid off are going through. Stay strong and keep your faith, you will land on your feet. People say things happen for a reason, I truly believe that. My hope for all of those affected is that soon they will be able to look back and see what that reason was. There is something better on the horizon for you, although I'm sure you can not see that now, just keep believing in yourself first, and keep strong in your faith that this too shall pass and you will find your way. When one door closes another opens, and for all of you I hope that door opens to great possibility and much peace and happiness. To all the remaining partners I continue to hope that things turn around for all of you, I know how hard you work and know what it must be like to go to work everyday with the fear that you may not have a job soon. Please don't let that fear blind you from still doing the best you can in creating what Starbucks was and still can be, your 3rd place.

FLA SM

"Blaming Howard, Cliff, or Martin for the company's poor performance is scapegoating. Howard isn't serving improperly made drinks or failing to engage with the customer."

Aren't those the people who made the decisions that landed us in the current situation? Who decided to expand at an exponentaial rate? Who allowed new store leases to be signed with ridiculously high rents, causing many stores to be closed before they have been open even one year? Aren't those the people who bought a $45m jet when they already had two sitting around? Aren't those the geniuses who authorized such ideas as SF Mocha, honey lattes, Vivannos, smelly breakfast sandwiches, espresso excellence, PPR, etc.? Howard personally isn't serving improperly made drinks or failing to engage the customers directly. He's causing it to happen nation-wide thanks to labor cuts and virtual elimination of non-coverage hours. He's causing it through the forcing out of good partners to replace them with cheaper hires who don't care because they get paid minimum wage. He, in effect, is telling new hires that if he could pay them less, he would, but this is the lowest possible wage allowed by law. You get what you pay for.

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