It’s 5:55 AM and I just arrived at the health club to work out. I grab the Wall Street Journal and read that Starbuck’s is bringing back Howard Schultz to “fix a coffee empire that he says has become stifled by bureaucracy and has lost the courage that helped it change how Americans get their coffee.”
According to the article, Mr. Schultz said yesterday he plans to slow down the pace of new store openings in the U.S. and to close struggling locations.
With over 15,000 locations worldwide, it’s no wonder that the “company's rapid expansion has distracted it from making its cafes an inviting place with exciting new products.”
As a coffee-holic, I personally L O V E Starbucks. I think Dunkin Donuts coffee is the WORST. It’s weak, it’s watery and it’s totally bland. Having now admitted that I am brainwashed and Pavlovian trained to only enjoy Starbucks, I will admit that I am hooked.
But how is the new CEO Howard Schultz planning to make Starbuck’s more café like, more hometown feel, less like a dime a dozen McDonald’s and something that will “add value” to a consumers café experience? He has a letter to consumers on Starbuck's home page
Well, given that I’m a coffee connoisseur, frequent (daily) visitor to Starbuck’s and marketing guru -- I would like to offer Mr. Schultz some advice:
5 Ways to Improve Starbuck’s
1. It’s on the minds of millions of overweight consumers whose New Year’s Resolution is to “loose weight”. Change the signage on your reduced fat pastries to include fat grams, carbohydrates and Weight Watcher’s points. And for God sake …. Offer a real alternative that is HEALTHY like bran muffins, sugar-free blueberry muffins filled with fiber and FAT-FREE yogurt parfaits with reduced fat granola.
2. Provide more small tables to sit at (so often people are hording the tables and spend hours). It’s nice to know that I can make a date with my girlfriend for coffee and not sit on a curb!
3. Have soft, quiet music playing – not loud rap or rock-n-roll. Starbuck’s should create the feel of a spa-like oasis with gentle, relaxing music.
4. Offer a larger selection of “grab-n-go” sandwiches and cheese platters (of course, with the proper nutritional information as noted above in #1 impromvement suggestion.)
5. Offer newspapers at every table, clearly labeled “Please enjoy but leave on the table for other patrons”. It’s nice to have the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other papers available for a “quick read.”
Now, if Mr. Schultz would like to pay me for my advice … I’ll gladly accept a years worth of free Venti drips to go!