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June 29, 2011

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Maddie

I think having a consistent coffee blend available is a positive. I also appreciate the changes made regarding milk steaming. No more flat or resteamed milk.
I started working for Sbucks in the Fall of 2006 and moved onto teaching two years later, so yeah, I was around during the time of the memo! Dark day!

frapatte

Looking at the highlighted points, nothing changed. If anything, it's as if Howie decided that those were the properties of the company he wanted to emphasize. LEAN has both completely watered down the Sbux experience and removed the soul out of the stores, transforming baristas into fast-food workers and "partners" into "employees". Merchandising is still a joke; only a few select stores can even call themselves "merchandise stores" and the rest have to deal with confused customers annoyed about the fact that they only see one type of press for sale and no grinders, no espresso pods, no filters, no anything but plenty of useless, gaudy, overpriced (often Via) tumblers. McDs and DD are both still constant looming threats trying and succeeding to muscle in on market share, not even to mention chains like Peets or Green Mountain, and for the helluvit let's add onto that the growing number of people who opt to just buy their own beans and have them personally roasted and ground instead of paying Sbux to go through the trouble. Oh sure Sbux stocks are still holding steady, but that's not guaranteed.

I <3 music

Those words are more true today than ever.

Partner of 6+ years

In my area, we are pushing speed of service and VIA. How is this any different than 4 years ago?

spence

Starbucks is never going to be what it was 20 years ago. Sad but true. Having said that, bringing back the coffee master programs is good. The new program is nothing at all like the old one. It is hard!
Our store is lean but we still manage to find time to show some warmth to customers.Unfortunately, we really don't have time to do coffee tastings unless I do them on my day off.

I <3 music

How is the new Coffee Master program going for the partners who have taken on this duty? I really want to know what it is now?

baristamclane

Yes, Starbucks has changed. But since I have stock grants that expire soon, I will refrain from saying anything that could hinder the stock price...

Georgia.

The coffee master program has changed a lot. It requires a lot of studying, reading and observing. It took me 3 months and it was not fluff. The program covers everything from green beans to the store sales. You then need to write improvements to be done within the store, goals, etc. I can honestly say that I now know more about beans, washing, processing, roasting, geography, Farming, CI, Ethical sourcing, FE, etc. than I ever thought possible.
I'M SO GLAD I DID IT.

Mark

I feel like the Starbucks on 7th Ave and 31st Street has some soul. The store must field thousands of customers each day, but the partners know my name and what I order. I can't say the same for the Dunkin Donuts or the bagel place around the corner.

midamasm

the "soul" in the stores is soley created by the sm. If yours is a pile....your store has no soul.....for those of us that care....the environment can be pretty magical

Hopeful

I recently left the company after 17 years. I worked at many different levels and in many different markets.
I miss Starbucks and the idea of being a Partner, as well some of my old Starbucks colleagues.
However, I am sad to say that the Starbucks of today is not what it was when I started. Which is understandable, then the store count was 220, and today it is around 18,000.
It used to be "Fun with Coffee Passion, always Learning something new and Cool and through that we made great customer connections, and thus lots of money! What a great concept.
Today it is really more of a LEAN driven, being a bit falsely, almost fake in a way excited and passionate because you are supposed to be as a Starbucks Partner. Very micro managed, with most of the sacrifice coming at the Store level.
I still have hope that it will slip back a little, become a little softer again. Howard Behar is gone but his ways should not be forgotten.

Legendarily Lean

Very sad... It's like a child who grew up and realized it was all a fairy tale.. Now, stepping into the big, cold, dark, dreary, cruel world..

Legendarily Lean (er?)

Oh, you want another telltale sign, by the way? Look at the number of comments here these days... It's almost like those who care are not here.. any more..

Jim  Romenesko

Let's see -- there were 153 comments in one OPEN THREAD earlier this month, and 83 in another. No comments?

Stan

@jim i don't think it was the amount of all comments.

i think @legendary meant the amount of positive comments.

Jim  Romenesko

Gotcha.

TheRootinator

It's my third day of training, and the second day of me on the bar. It doesn't feel like it was described. I'm not worried at all about my job or the pressures of management, because I'm here to learn as much as I can about coffee and how to operate a business in this industry.

What I am worried about, however, is how many of my partners will blow off making drinks correctly and following procedure. They leave the bananas upstairs in the freezer, along with the protein powder (we're a mall location) because they all detest Vivannos. I offered to carry them down and my shift laughed and said, "They would all hate you if you did that."

So, they're surprising me all right. I'm just not delighted by how they do so.

javagirl666

3 months to do the new Coffee Masters Program??? I don't even know what to say about that.

Anonymous

I can't speak for your store of course but we usually pull bananas one at time a time because we just don't make many Vivannos. At least we don't make many consistently, the other day I made 4 or 5 in 15 minutes (all chocolate oddly enough) and today I didn't make a single one. We do, however, keep the protein powder with all the dry inclusions on cold bar.

waltie

"I offered to carry them down and my shift laughed and said, "They would all hate you if you did that.""

I would take this as an opportunity to become a positive influence in your store. Start being the guy (or gal) who pulls the bananas as needed, cleans the urns, and does everything else as directed by proper procedure. If somebody is going to hate you because you expect them to do their jobs, then frankly their respect or fellowship probably isn't something you want or need.

And while you might think that since are new you should wait to start standing up to people by doing things correctly, being new is actually the perfect time because you can say things like, "Oh, I read in the book that hot chocolates get chocolate drizzle. Shouldn't we be doing that every time? I want to do it correctly."

TheRootinator

Thank you, Waltie. I wanted to talk to my SM about it before I started acting on things, and your advice makes me feel more comfortable doing that.

They also blatantly disregard the soy/dairy milk and blender rules, and there's no way in hell I'm going to watch my coworkers get away with that.

And @Anonymous, I would pull everything out, but my store is on the first floor of a mall two stories under our storage room. Not so easy.

Anonymous

@TheRootinator, ah okay, yeah I missed that in your first post. That definitely makes it a lot harder to pull bananas as smoothies are ordered, so what do they do when a customer orders a smoothie? Tell them no or take forever going to the storage room? I'll be the first to admit that smoothies aren't my favorite but I'd still pull whatever I needed just because I'd hate having to run around like.

waltie

Once the frozen bananas are thawed, they are good for four hours. I don't care how far away your storage room is, there is no excuse to be running out of bananas on a regular basis if you have a four hour slot to get more.

James Connolly

I mean, I'm no fan of making Vivannos, but I'd never not pull 'em unless it's the end of the night and I was worried about them not being used.

As far as the topic of the post, the commoditization of the brand has pretty much continued apace without any delay or stop. Most of the new stores or the recently renovated ones look and feel sterile. It's been three years since my store got reno'ed and it still feels cold and impersonal in the cafe.

I mean, not much has changed other than the endless speedup that's made working here even worse. That's about it.

TheRootinator

It's not that we run out, it's that the partners never bring them out to begin with. We have a whole case just hanging out in our freezer a floor above us and it kind of pisses me off that it's even allowed to happen.

Anonymous, the register partner just says we're out of bananas and either suggests a frappuccino or offers to just blend fruit juice and ice.

just saying

i don't know jim.
i think starbucks canada has had a very different ride than in the US.
outside of the fact that your economy tanked and ours just sucked, our stores have been more profitable and have been doing better for the past 4 years (ish); so we haven't felt the same types of pressures that i've read about here on the site.

while we did have the pastry push and VIA challenges, we haven't had the same LEAN type labour challenges that people report. (i also really think that some people are more whining then have valid complaints; you want more labour? sell more stuff!!)

we still have gotten t-shirts; love on partner appreciation day and haven't done the discounted pastry/coffee combos or $2 receipts (although we will soon)...so it hasn't felt as dunkin donuts as been complained about.

but the reality is it just isn't what it was. that's not really a bad thing, as all things change. but once it was a much smaller company, where in a city you would know about 75% of the partners. they would gather in meetings, during events and hang out at each others stores after work.

now we've gotten so big that it's impossible to maintain the small company feeling. we have stores opening up with no one to fill the spots, so hiring isn't always done the best way or with the right people. we often promote people who aren't ready, or just don't have the same passion they would have had to have ten years ago..

the flip side is, it's not hard for me to draw customers. they line up whether we're doing a good job or not. they keep coming and i don't really have to work on it - even if i need to try to make them buy more stuff..

dunno.
it's both good and bad. it really is what you make it. it always has been -- even during the crappy times before the memo.... someone above said it all came from the managers (district and store) and gets filtered down -- hopefully the messages sent are the best ones possible.

barista me

I've been with Starbucks for almost 9 years. I do love what I do but we are really kidding ourselves if we think the company really supports us being a neighborhood shop. They say they want it but I see nothing that supports that. That being said, I think there are a lot of outstanding partners that make it happen! But it's just talk that the company wants that.

ccc

I have been a partner for 4 years and an employee for the last 2 years. I understand that changes were necessary.
I am grateful to have a job.
The last partner survey showed that All partners were stressed out, did not feel appreciated and or valued. Of course you didnt hear too much about this last survey. Starbucks has a hard time understanding why...lean is not making our job easier, it just showed us a way to be more efficeint so we could work faster.
The new way of steaming (BR2) will like so many other new things will just go away due to customers DONT LIKE TO WAIT. Thanks for talking to the customers while you make thier drink, but could you go alittle faster.
Can we please spend more time with our partners to make them fell more valued, but you will have to do this in between customers because we cant give you back any of the labor we took away from you, yes when times werent great, but now that we have been having record comps, and sales..cant do it because green beans are more expensive.
I am an employee.. no longer a partner.

ali

I've been an employee since 1999. You get what you give. I started as a barista and have worked in cafe, drive thrus, I have trained RD's and sat down in round tables with the VP's of the company over the years. In every store, no matter what state I was in, the atmosphere is what you make it. You can be a neighborhood store, you can be involved but are YOU willing to put forth the effort. I promise if you show the passion consistently and talk to your DM's it can happen. Sometimes managers get burnt out too. Try taking on the project for your manager and reignite their passion. A company can never stay the same. It has to grow or die. It either reinvents itself or becomes irrelevant. Now that coffeehouse is not the cool trendy, ecclectic thing it once was we find ourselves having to compete with fast food stores. But in some stores LEAN works with friendly attitudes. Our customers love us because of our people and our product. If one of those is not on all the time in your store you will never win. You cannot feel good about what you do. We sample, we are involved in the community, we are a drive thru that knows our customers by name and we have good speed of service. But you have to care and you have to want it.

trollolololo

^bullshit. You're a tool, and a liar, and need to lay off the Kool-Aid.

waltie

My experience has been similar to Ali's. Good post.

erstwhile

It's fantastic that the company is doing well again. And there are good fundamentals behind the program rollouts that have occurred since 2007.

But partners are working harder. There's no way that you can tiptoe around a 15% labor cut. On top of that, Starbucks' total pay isn't as fantastic as it was 10 or even 5 years ago. In many markets, new baristas make minimum wage. If we want to attract the type of people that can be passionate about the work that they're doing and the experience they're providing for customers, you have to compensate them. As it stands right now, my store is competing with Wal-Mart and McDonalds for new hires, and it's turning into a revolving door of new faces, or weeks of being understaffed because my manager hasn't had any successful interviews.

Basically, if you want your employees to provide a luxury product and a luxury experience to your customers, you have to treat them better than the industry average. By in large, this is not happening anymore, and the expectations of each individual partner is increasing.

Jason Noble

I really don't think anything has changed. Customer Service continues to be a huge issue and consistency is a huge issue. My experience today in Sequim, WA today proves that. A couple of years ago in what seemed to be a desperate move Starbucks introduced the Starbucks Double Shot at a really good price (I know that's amazing that Starbucks could offer something at a good price.) After awhile all of the sudden the button disappeared on the registers. Now every time I order this drink I get charged a different price. Usually making it one of the most expensive drinks on the menu. It's very, very frustrating. I finally found a little consistency at the Sequim store until a manager stepped in today and told me that policy had changed and they had to charge more for the drink. That's interesting because I was just here on the weekend and policy hadn't changed. It's completely crazy. How hard would it be to simply price the drink and add a button on the register. What really amazes me is the manager I dealt with was so inflexible. Whatever happened to Starbucks policy on satisfying there customers. Starbucks loves to frustrate it's customers by changing things. Instead of keeping a good thing they take it away. I don't understand that philosophy. You would think that being a regular customer would count for something. But not at Starbucks. I think the only thing that has changed is the customer service has gotten worse overall. I am just reading Howard Shultz's book and I'm not sure if he's really in touch with the real world when it comes to Starbucks and how customer service has really become. It would be nice if Starbucks got back to it's roots and really strived to please the customer.

Tired Barista

Well I just gave my two weeks. I was a partner for 16 years.

The Company known as Starbucks that exist now is not the one I started with.

Starbucks is now making visible to it's partners just the greedy corporation it is.

Lean is bullshit, they snatched the fundamentals from a toyota plant assembly line strategy. Which even for cars is a bit suspect but ok it turned Toyota around and made them the #1 carmaker. TOYOTA IS A CAR COMPANY!!!

Starbucks is a coffee company, we inter act with human beings on a daily basis. The variables can change from person to person even with regulars.

Having an espresso machine that can pull for more then one drink at a time and not being able to do that is ass backwards. We are not robots but the upper mangagement see it differently.

If there was ever a bold slap in the face of the customer and partner it's lean.

It's the micromanaging emphasis they put on it thats just awful.

It's completely soul less, for the partners and stores that have manage to cope, you get a salute from me.

My Fellow partners who think it's Bullshit, man just hang in till you can get another gig.

Peace to you all!!

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