The world’s foremost coffee retailer/brand, Starbucks, has announced a decrease in sales. In 2008, Starbucks reported fiscal fourth-quarter operating earnings of $71 million, or 10 cents a share, down from $158.5 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the company to earn 13 cents per share in the latest quarter.
On a typical afternoon at Starbucks, a casual observer would note the prevalence of middle-aged Caucasian males and females who frequent the coffee shop. One might also notice the number of computer users who occupy multiple tables. Coffee orders are taken by polite barristas who merely ask for your order, give you your change and call out your name when your coffee is ready.
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By improving the training program for Starbucks barristas and managers, the coffee empire may very well be able to raise coffee sales and make the overall coffee shop experience more personal and pleasant. The training program should be focused on attracting new clientele and on encouraging continued patronage from regular customers.
Starbucks should not forget that most of the major cities are densely populated with Hispanics, Asians and people of diverse cultural backgrounds. In striving to broaden the Starbucks clientele, managers should be educated as to the importance of cultural diversity in sales oriented businesses. Educating the managers will help the transition in the training program. Barristas should be trained to greet people in different languages and should learn basic Spanish phrases so as to make Hispanic coffee drinkers feel more welcome. By taking a more multicultural approach, first time clients and occasional coffee drinkers will feel more welcome and may be encouraged to come back.
The Starbucks training program could also be improved to develop a stronger relationship between the barristas and regular clientele. Barristas should be trained to recommend specific food items that compliment the drink being ordered. For example, if a health conscious customer frequently orders a sugar-free non-fat coffee, the barrista should be trained to mention that the whole-wheat bagle would go well with the drink. In this way, customers will be encouraged to order not only coffee but also food. It is important that the barristas should be trained to recommend food products that not only compliment the food being ordered, but also the lifestyle of the customer. Barristas should be trained to greet frequent customers by name and to remember the drinks they frequently order. Doing so will show customers that the barristas pay attention to each customer and their preferences.
In order to ensure that there are always free tables for incoming customers, Starbucks barristas should be trained to politely encourage customers to use only as many tables and chairs as they need. Some customers are in the habit of creating small offices in the midst of Starbucks. At times, these customers occupy more tables than they actually need. Barristas should be trained to address this issue by being taught to politely ask the customer if he or she can spare one the tables being occupied. By helping to ensure that there are always free tables, incoming customers will always be assured of space.
In order to improve the customer-barrista relationship, the staff at Starbucks should be trained to remember common greetings in other languages. In this manner, first time or infrequent customers will receive a more personal greeting, and Starbucks will be able to attract a more racially diverse consumer base. The staff should also be trained to recommend food that compliments the beverage being ordered, as this will encourage clients to order both coffee and food. Barristas should also be trained to create space when Starbucks becomes crowded. It must not be forgotten that the Starbucks brand was built on experience: coffee drinkers are willing to pay a premium price for a high quality product that is offered in a luxurious environment. An improved training program will result in an enhanced barrista-client relationship and a more personal and pleasant Starbucks experience.
Clifford, Catherine. “Starbucks reports decline in profit – Nov. 10, 2008.” Business, financial, personal finance news – CNNMoney.com. 11 Apr. 2009 http://money.cnn.com/2008/11/10/news/companies/starbucks_earnings/index.htm
“How to Increase Workforce Diversity | eHow.com.” eHow | How To Do Just About Everything!. 11 Apr. 2009 <http://www.ehow.com/how_2074652_increase-workforce-diversity.html>