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March 05, 2013

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Yerba

I was hired in 2000, became unhappy in '08 and left in '11 when I finally realized conditions weren't improving... I miss it, but only the first few years. I don't miss post-labor cuts AT ALL. What used to be a pleasant work environment and community is simply a fast vehicle to health insurance. I will never go back. Still makes me sa to think about it.

baristanon

I think there are still many of us who strive to create those "enthusiastically satisfied" customers, but yes, it seems to get harder and harder, not just because of all the cuts but it seems the SMs are more focused on making their bonuses than anything else.

StarbucksJohn

Theres a reason why the company was going down the drain back then. We still have the customers as our number one priority but I do believe we've developed more of a business-centered mindset now.

Starbucks isn't for everyone and it is pretty challenging connecting with customers during some of our busier times but I don't find the "legendary service" has declined at all during my shifts. If anything, we are stepping back and focusing more on what customers wanted.

One of the biggest things customers asked of Starbucks is speedier service. Your probably not going to see a barista step away from the floor during peak to talk to connect with a customer anymore but that's just one of the things that has to be compromised to deliver what customers asked for.

As far as labor cuts, that is just the nature of a successful business. I think shift supervisors are much more knowledgeable about how to control labor and when it is necessary to cut someone's shift short when they aren't needed. Managers used to work in the back 90% of the time but have moved away from this practice and now usually only work a day out of the week on non-coverage activities. Theres a reason why we are much more profitable as a company.

Fox in a Hole

The minute the majority of baristas became 16-year-old teenage girls with princess complexes, legendary service instantly evaporated.

.

Yes. Though I don't think we necessarily need ALL of the labor we had in the past, it did allow us to create those inspired moments. Things like a mid day coffee tasting, taking samples of new beverages to neighboring businesses, etc. The summation of those small acts was the foundation on which the relationship with our customers was built. I read an article recently about Disney theme parks. On their "duty roster," a "cast member" might be assigned to create a "magical moment" for a guest. This, combined with ops excellence, is why they can get guests to come year after year, spending thousands of dollars on vacations.

Unfortunately, we did tremendous damage to the relationships we worked so hard to build when we made them all buy VIA. Why do you think we can't sell Verismos today? (Don't believe the wall street line that sales met expectations, they didn't.)

I remember Howard addressing the "recalculation of the labor formula" (remember, it was never a labor cut lol.) At this time, we had negative comps. He stated that we needed this adjustment because a portion of the labor equation built in sales growth and unfortunately, we weren't growing. Now, present day, I'm at a 9 year old store that's comping 12%. My whole district is comping about 10%. Where's the readjustment now??

Sandy

I'm a customer, not an associate. Last summer my husband and I took a driving vacation from Palm Springs up to Portland. There were quite a few stops along the way, and at each destination--we stopped at a LOT of Starbucks. We wanted good reliable coffee, easily findable locations, clean not-creepy restrooms, a change of scene, healthy snacks, water, and easy parking. We were delighted at each store. The baristas were extremely friendly and helpful, from Pasadena to Redding, to Portland and points in-between. Without fail, we had a great experience in each store, thanks to the baristas, and to management for keeping stock fresh, the store clean, and hiring great people. Thank you to all!

Now, I've had the opposite experience at airport Starbucks locations. Disinterested staff, BAD sandwiches, dirty stores. Too bad.

KDH

We do well at my store, but yeah -- when you've got 3 people running the store on Christmas Eve and a line out the door I don't know how you can expect this "connection".

Sometimes it's impossible to deliver.

DF

I'm with Sandy. I've had outstanding experiences at most Starbucks that have a locals base of customers. My home Starbucks is fantastic. They are warm and efficient, and particularly friendly to regulars. A friend who went to my store for the first time was shocked at how many of the customers the staff knew both by name and by favorite drink.

annaliesa

Couple of things, Sandy:

Airport Sbux and Target kiosks are "licensed concepts" stores. Their employees don't get the same benefits, wages, or even tips. They also deal with people who've recently come into very personal contact with the TSA. Not a good combination!

Coffeelvr

My home Starbucks is awesome. They have a huge amoutn of regulars of which they know their names and their drinks. I am a regular and very friendly with the manager and staff. It is my 'happy place'. But at time it does get super busy with a line nearly out the door. I can unerstand how there is simply no time to stand and chat with everyone. Friends and I will often comment that even in the economy we are in, our home Starbucks is certainly not hurting. They are pretty steady busy all the time.

Coffeeburner

Yes. I worked at starbucks for 5 years up until recently. I left because conditions became so bad. Management has created unethical and harassing work conditions. This is not situational as it is district wide in Philadelphia. It is impossible to meet all of the demands of management and still try and do the job with such limited labor. Let alone doing all of this with a warm smile hundreds of times in a shift. Management had gotten so out of control they asked the baristas to take pictures of them doing the work as to prove that they had done it. I used to really enjoy the company but as of late it is turning into a McDonalds with over priced products.

Sam

It depends on the districts and the managers. I transferred from Texas to Florida. In Texas, I came close to quitting several times due to management and not feeling like I was given the tools to do my job successfully. Now, in Florida, I have a manager who's willing to invest in labor to see an increase in sales (and it works), usually going against the company recommendations, a district manager who is big on doing what it takes to make the workers passionate, and an all around awesome team that works well together and is flexible. Customers respect when we're busy (mostly) and don't take offense if we don't talk for 5 minutes, but the regulars also know when to come in if they want to chat.

Amazing Grace

I remember being on the conference call one week after the rah-rah pep rally in New Orleans where Howie told all of us managers all the great things coming down the pike but was too much of a meow-meow to tell us to our face that they were cutting labor (right before Christmas) by 5 percent across the board. That cut out anytime managers had for deep cleaning (without of course having to work past their forty hours)or planning or touching base with their staff or god forbid training. Since then, it has never been about customer service. It has always been about becomin McStarbux. I know shareholders won--but workers and customers lost everything. Great choice there Howard--glad you're openly greedy.

Miguel

For some reason, I find the baristas in New York City completely below the average everywhere else, especially comparing to Europe. But even LA

They act disinterested, barely smile.

Of course once in a while there's a great nice guy, but that seems to be a rarity compared to other cities/countries.

Just my experience. And I've been to a looot of Starbucks spread across Manhattan... whether it's Midtown, Meatpacking District, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park...

Bill

Dang I was saying the same thing when the laid off all the in House Starbuck’s Technicians. Howard told all of us he would NEVER lay off the back bone of the company, and not even two months later, the lay-offs hit us hard. Everything dropped the standards, service, cleanliness, and everyone was looking over their shoulder to see who was going to be next. This really sucked company wide.
So calling Howard greedy is a huge understatement. For a company to hold onto 3 Jets, and order a 4th was a killer, when they are laying off people left and right. While closing store’s they just opened. The cost alone to close a store was crazy money, they had to pay off the landlord first most were close to half a mill. Then hire a team of movers, and a team to rip everything out of the store, I mean rip out. Than ship everything back to Seattle to be warehoused until who knows when it could or would be used again, very large waste of money?

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