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October 28, 2009

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"JUAN VALDEZ"

There is a menu neatly positioned on a stand at the pastry/cold case which lists the prices. There are menu chalkboards across the back wall however they dont have prices. The menu chalkboard behind the clover station does list prices. It's a bit schizophrenic and it would be interesting to note how much confusion this causes patrons. In my case, I wasn't confused at all because I am a highly trained professional however I advise you not to try this at home.

There were eight partners on the floor at this cafe store. One partner stood at the pastry case, taking drink orders, the next partner was at the register to ring up the order, two partners were on the bar, another was at the clover station (which sold maybe 3 drinks while I was there), a partner was doing a values walk (woohoo), another was stocking and, finally, one was doing some random cleaning.

Needless to say, there was plenty of manpower (oopss, sorry, personpower) to handle the business. Even so, some stuff got missed.

For instance, the cleaner kept the cold case looking nice and even managed to clear dishes and wipe the front door. Unfortunately, that partner never once went near the lobby which alternated between being completely full to 3/4 full and back again. In other words, there was a demand for getting tables cleaned and straightened up yet, for some unknown reason, it wasn't done. Therefore the same scattered newspapers and used napkins on my communal table never got cleared. And folks who wanted to sit at individual tables had to remove the dirty cups and napkins themselves. And guess where they pushed the table crumbs...why, on the floor, of course, which never got swept.

And the bathroom...yikes. It looked clean until you looked a little closer. Then you noticed buildup all over the top of the urinal; such buildup consisting of hair and dust and moisture. It was hard to miss since it was the first thing you saw when looking down while using the urinal. The mirror had the requisite graffiti scratches. There was an interesting hand dryer in use..the kind where you put your hands down into an opening. Unfortunately, you have to be careful when putting your hands into the dryer because the exposed areas were covered in dust and grime which would mean having to go back and wash your hands once again if you touched the sides. Like the top of the urinal, this wasnt today's dirt...it had been there for awhile.

So here are the salient points:

- I liked the look and feel of the store.
- My beverage was tasty.
- The partners were friendly.
- This store was very busy but also very well staffed.
- There were enough people to fulfill all the various needs.
- They were sampling Clover coffee.
- Despite the presence of a partner to clean and stock, the lobby, lobby floor and condiment bar got absolutely no attention at all. Zip. Zilch.
- They really need to do some deep cleaning in the bathroom.
- There was absolutely no mention of Via to anyone which is surprising given the comments on Starbucks Gossip about pressure to sell Via.

Grade: B-

* 

Time of day: late morning


* Number of partners on the floor: 8 (cafe)




* Service time: 3 minutes




* Business level: busy




* Was the bathroom cleaner than a gas station bathroom?: No



* Legendary service: No




* Would I recommend to a friend: Yes

COLUMN STATS






* # of stores reviewed where a partner has tried to connect with a customer – 20 out of 44


* # of stores where they've offered samples of anything – 4 out of 44




* # of stores that could have been considered "understaffed" - 2 out of 44

* # of stores with a clean bathroom – 25 out of 44

* # of stores with a chair sitting in the bathroom – 1 out of 44




"Juan Valdez" is the nom de cyber of a former Starbucks manager who became disenchanted with the increasingly bitter taste of the Starbucks experience and fled to the mountains of Colombia where he now rides his burro and ponders the glittering sunsets. On a crisp clear day, when atmospheric conditions are just right and the moon is in the seventh house, he can be reached at juanvaldezsbux@gmail.com

Will

I thought Juan's tenure was up.

spence

I've always pictured Juan as really a female. Unless she was in the mens room. . . clearly I was wrong.
I'll miss your blogs.

radicalista

Thanks, Juan! That was informative and much appreciated.

Melody

That store has evolved a bit since opening. I wish Starbucks would listen to me. Day one, I said it needs the ropes to show where people stand, and later on sure enough they showed up.

When the store was new, the mugs, trinkets, and other retail and the whole bean wall were in flip-flopped position of where they are now. I am sure I posted on here that it was a bad design because the old location of the whole bean wall was such that a long line would block it, and was simply not as accessible a wall. Sure enough, it has been flip-flopped just as I thought.

To this date I think the store has a noise level problem. Sound reverberates in that space. Hard furnishings, echoing sounds. I'm sure they'll figure something out to dampen the noise.

By the way, last time I was in there (I don't go all that often) there was NO Via push at all. I even got up to the register, so surprised that Via was being suggested at all that when I got my Clover cup of coffee I said to the barista, "anything else you would recommend" and he just looked at me like I had two heads.

However, design issues aside, the store has some cool things going on, and I do love how the Clover station is separated away from the register bar, and there is a separate Clover register too. Thanks for your review Juan! How many more to go?

Viart!

Same in my local store - no more Via push (Thank God!)

My favorite barista told me that word came down from "on high" to stop the fraudulent selling practices and to stop upsetting the customers. Yay!

She also said that it couldn't have come at a better time b/c their regional manager was in last place and had demanded that every store go OUT into the field THIS Friday and sell via.

Can you imagine? Door to door via sales?

Sounds like someone isn't leading but reacting... Almost like they didn't know what they were doing. Hmmmmm...

But I guess all our complaints really worked! Of course this is AFTER they probably got enough sales to boost the numbers for the stock report.

Oh Howard, what happened to going "back to basics?" Give me back my happy baristas and the good vibe at my favorite store. I feel so sorry for them... (actually all of the store level staff - well, the HONEST ones at least)

I know it's just a pipedream... but I can wish!

nematode

wow 8 partners we only have 8 that work at my store lol

spence

We have customers who are actually coming in to buy Via. Wow.
Mostly, when i bring it up, they tell me that they bought some already but haven't tried it at home.
I expect Costco is doing better than a Starbucks store which is what is to be expected.
The decaffers are waiting for the decaf.

HighConceptMiddlingQuality

Just a customer, but I still get the Via push when I walk in to get other things at my usual cafe location. I don't begrudge it because I know they're being pressured to sell it, but it gets to become a broken record after a while - especially when I have already taken the bait and purchased nearly $100 of Via product between the sachets, a mug for me and for a gift, and even one of the Rwandan pocket purses with slots that hold the sachets - from the same store that keeps asking me about whether I've tried it - lol!

It's suprisingly good for an instant, and it happens to fill a niche for me, as I don't have any coffee places conveniently nearby at work and I have medical reasons for not drinking soda. But it's not my first choice when I want a "quality" cup of coffee, and anyone who does the math realizes that it's still more expensive than brewing your own beans. It's not going to be an everyday "habit" for people like me until the price goes down. If I have the time, I'm still stopping at my other preferred cafe chain on the way in to work to get a brewed 16-20 oz cup.

But Via has made some work afternoons go more smoothly, and I do plan to bring it with me on my travels. I'll pick some up every once in a while. It just seems like it would be better marketed in stores that serve on-the-go customers: airports, the licensed store-in-store locations, and groceries. Start there and build on that customer base before you make it the sole focus in the cafe stores. If my preferred chain cafe made a Via-like product, I'd probably switch. It just happens that the Sbux version is currently 1 step better than the typical grocery instant brands.

Parcaso

Why didn't you hear anything about VIA?
Because we baristas are being pushed sooooooo hard to sell it to everyone that we have been worn out. I lost all of my energy and drive to sell this product within the first two weeks. I refure, REFUSE< to talk to any person about it unless they first inquire. I'm tired of feeling like i've harrassed people.
MGMT has things wayyy upside down if selling this product to people trumps giving them excellent service and being wholly cordial. I am not a machine. These people are not walking wallets. Not everyone, and indeed, hardly anyone (around mystore anyway) want VIA, and I am not going to treat them like they are VIA hungry robots. NOt going to happen.
It is wholly ridiculous and completely laughable that the people making the sales goals for VIA are not the ones who have to put ANY effort into actually selling the product.
DMs and up are giving us ways to abuse the customer via psychological tricks to make them buy this damn product, and I suppose they don't realize that we see they are doing the same thing to us.
How do you get a bunch of pawns to sell a product?
1) set the sales goal unbelievably high (and anyone who wants to suggest hte goals aren't that high, has clearly never worked in a store)
and
2) put pressure on managers to put pressure on shifts to put pressure on baristas to sell the product in a certain ridiculous timeline.
The higher-ups need to have their reality check. I am not here to peddle product for your earnings. I am not here to harass people. I am not here to meet goals. I am here to deliver excellent customer service and make amazing drinks.
Profitability is one of 6 principles of ours. I am not sacrificing 5 goals to meet 1.
Upper management neesd to get REAL. or get fired.

for real

@Parcaso

"I am not here to peddle products for your earnings."

Then you probably should think about getting a job outside of the retail industry, yes? Retail=selling things.

Parcaso

for real
I did not sign up to be in a retail program. I signed up to have a good interaction with people and to make their drinks amazingly and to help them have a good day.
A bartender is not a salesperson job.
You clearly have not worked as a sbux employee or even as a sales person. you fail. I'm sorry. People who work as baristas wih he sam intent know what im talking about. you, by virtue, do not.

nb2

I agree...Starbucks is considered a "retail" store, but has never before had to "sell", or "push" products on people like we have been pressured into now. If a store has reached 100% of their goal, they probably stopped pushing. Everyone is tired.

T-NF-C

I visited this store last Tuesday afternoon and was so surprised at the noise level. Really surprised. I didn't even order, just walked back out. I will say that it's pretty though. Love the bamboo.

Staxman

@Juan Valdez

Juan, if you're still taking requests, I'd like to see a review of the store at 2204 NW Market St. in Seattle's Ballard district. Thanks.

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