I have been traveling ALOT lately.
In my business, that’s a good thing although I have to work hard at staying healthy. On my travels, I make a point of visiting as many concepts as I can. I marvel at the permutations and combinations of our community of multi unit restaurant operators. Corporate stores, franchise stores, licence stores, non-traditional locations and the like.
This last week, I saw something that to me, really demonstrates how difficult it is to scale a repeatable process across these assets.
I bring to your attention, an earlier post where I met the world’s greatest Starbucks partner. She was so amazing. So attentive. So kind. It resulted in a fantastic experience. The way I am sure Starbucks intended it to be.
In Dallas, at the airport, I went to the Starbucks in Terminal E. When I arrived, I was excited and thought what a great company this is. On top of the cappuccino machine, were the following awards;
Of course, as this award was handed out to this location, my expectations were high. As I approached the counter after a substantial wait, I was treated with such unkindness. The dichotomy of scaling culture and attitude became apparent.
You just can’t teach attitude. But you can hire it. I took this photo, and decided to post this quick story, not because I am anti establishment, but because I care so much. I love Starbucks and admire everything they do and have done for our industry. It makes me sad when it goes wrong for them, or anyone for that matter.
Upon closer inspection of the awards, they were dusty and neglected. Clearly, whoever managed this store when that award was won has moved on.
So, just like the awards were now neglected, so were the customers. The service was not only terrible, but the cashier was indifferent, had a poor attitude and just didn’t really want to be there.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s not a bad person. She’s just got the wrong attitude.
I have finally understood in my career that you must hire attitude and train skills. Because, human connection is the most important part of our business. It’s what we do. We bring peace and serenity to people’s day. That’s the hospitality business.
For me, this kind of negative experience undoes the positive ones very quickly. It’s so hard to gain customers and so easy to lose them.
So please, don’t allow your organization to get so big that the handing out of awards is simply mechanical. It needs to mean something. Our customers are so smart, they will sniff you out if you are not walking the walk.
I still love what Starbucks is doing and I think Howard Schultz is a fantastic leader. But I do feel an obligation to protect his team’s interest because I just know how hard they work to make sure experiences like this don’t happen.
It’s just difficult when you are so diverse and sizeable. Not impossible, just difficult. Starbucks, I know you can dig deeper and find a way to get better at this. Hire attitude!