Note: Use the link below to view the news segment.
“Media Opportunity with Fox Business News at 6pm tonight. Call me asap to discuss.” That’s what the email read and what you can expect when working with a publicist; often having to throw best laid plans out the window in return for the exposure they generate for you.
So, I dropped everything, rescheduled some meetings and found myself quickly suited up and on my way to the television station.
The commentary they were looking for had to do with the decision made by the Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks to close up the 7,100 stores for some ‘necessary’ training for all Starbucks employees. Here’s how the story read:
“Starbucks Closing All Stores for 3 Hours Tuesday Afternoon for Barista Re-training
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
SEATTLE — Starbucks is closing the doors at its 7,100 stores across America for a brief barista re-education. CEO Howard Schultz announced the 3-hour closure starting at 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday to energize 135,000 employees. He wants baristas to share their passion for making espresso, or as he says, “to pull the perfect shot, steam milk to order and customize their favorite beverage.” Schultz says it’s part of his refocusing on the coffee customer experience. Since the chairman returned as CEO in January he has been making changes to revive Starbucks’ growth.
I was interviewed by Neil Cavuto Senior VP, Anchor & Managing Editor, Business News on FOX Business Network. They wanted to hear a few different commentaries on the story and whether or not this was a good decision. Here’s what I said, and a little more.
At first glance, it could be viewed as a strategically positioned publicity move, given the media attention this attracted. It’s not like this is the only platform a company uses to develop their people. They could have spread this training out over time. They could have done this before or after hours, in smaller teams and one to one with their mangers. It would have certainly been less of a disruption to their business and my coffee consumption.
And sure, this re-education effort portrays Starbucks as a consumer conscientious company driven to maintain the highest of standards regarding their people and their product, as well as the consumer experience they strive to create for their customers, who have grown accustomed to expecting the same experience each time they purchase a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And there’s no question that Starbucks has very much pioneered many of the changes in the way we purchase and enjoy our coffee today.
Conversely, this can also be viewed as a highly reactionary move from Starbucks. This move could be perceived as a hole in their system to maintain certain high performance standards; an inability to continuously train and coach their employees properly and reinforce best practices. After all, if there was ongoing training or coaching to maintain performance and best barista practices, there wouldn’t be a need to close up shop and pull out 135,000 employees for three hours. I can’t imagine this move becoming part of any long term training and development initiative.