Friday, January 25, 2013

FRED Friday...Starbucks Brews Relationships

FRED Friday…Starbucks brews Relationships

This morning on the exercise bike I had one of the news channels on the TV.  Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ President, Americas, was being interviewed about the most recent Starbucks earnings report.  Sales in the Americas rose, and profits beat analysts’ estimates.  Great news, for any for profit company.

Mr. Burrows and the interviewer engaged in conversation about “Starbucks, the product”, and they touched on how Starbucks continues to be…Starbucks.  From the type of coffee beans used to how they brew them to some interesting dialogue on The Clover machine that changed the coffee game even further, for Starbucks. 

“The Clover conversation” struck a chord with me, as Mr. Burrows unpacked not only the features and benefits of the machine and the value-added tastes and flavors it adds to their product, but he also touched upon how Starbucks Baristas deliver both the service and product.

The interviewer challenged him, asking him to “say more about the bean pressing process” of The Clover and the ‘extra time’ and ‘extra cost’ to the customer.  Mr. Burrows remained true to the very fabric that Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, made sure to weave into the company’s culture from Day 1. 

Mr. Burrows didn’t skip a beat when the conversation turned to some potential negative implications of ‘extra time’ or ‘extra cost’ to the consumers.  He went on to reinforce what Starbucks is all about.  As he explained, while Starbucks delivers a fantastic, delicious coffee product, they’re also fully committed to delivering that unique experience.

The Starbucks experience was a focal point when Howard Schultz came back from his visit to Milan all those years ago, inspired by the coffee culture and espresso bars that created a “third place” – not home, not work, but a third place - that was the culture and community Starbucks set out to create for people in the late 1980's.

Mr. Burrows closed out the interview exactly the way Starbucks built their company, one cup at a time…he did it by telling their story.  He didn’t expound on the $11,000, that Starbucks invests, per store, to add The Clover machine to the Baristas’ coffee-making quiver, nor did he pontificate on the quality or delicious taste of the product the machine produces.

In a succinct statement, he painted the picture of what happens while we wait in line for our Starbucks brew.  As we wait, we’re being engaged in meaningful conversation; a Barista is telling us the story of the company/The Clover/the beans, and the environment – the music, the atmosphere, & the vibe –, which results in an emotional connection with Starbucks every time we visit for our favorite latte or roast. 

The experience and feeling of connecting with a community and a culture that we didn’t even know we liked or needed continues to be the thread woven deeply into the fabric of what makes Starbucks, Starbucks.  (Abbey, at 'the first Starbucks' in Seattle's Pike Place Market is a great illustration.)

This reminds me of The Fred Factor principle # 2 – Success is Built on Relationships.  In Mark Sanborn’s story of Fred the Postman, he reminds us that Fred’s ability to connect with the folks on his route is what made him stand out.  This made him different from other service providers, and truly inspired a movement, which Mr. Sanborn continues to write, speak, and teach about today.

Mr. Sanborn states in the book and in his speeches that “this doesn’t mean the quality of your product isn’t important…it just means that it’s not enough.”  Starbucks is proof that the quality of the product is important, but the quality of the relationships with customers, Guests, clients, & members is critical.

You may have read or heard me speak to this Howard Schultz quote before, and it’s worth repeating here.  I love it, because it not only sums up Starbucks’ story, it’s inspiring:

We’re not in the coffee business, serving people…we’re in the PEOPLE business, serving coffee.” – Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks

From the finance folks grinding on pricing models to their people grinding the coffee...from Baristas to the boardroom, Starbucks brews relationships.  It sets them apart, and it's what keeps us going back...cup after cup.

Have a great day, relationshipping. 


What is FRED Friday?

In my favorite book, The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn tells an inspiring story of how a man named Fred goes OneMoreStep after OneMoreStep in his role as a Postman for the United States Postal Service.  I love this book.  Since my mom sent it to me in 2004, I've purchased the book for friends, coworkers, and girlfriends...I've even purchased and hand delivered copies of the book to several executives at both Wynn Las Vegas and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Fred Friday is a series in which the OneMoreStepRevolution blog will showcase a real life "Fred" on select Fridays.   Reading The Fred Factor definitely leaves us with a desire to to be more Fred-like ourselves, but I also love looking for Freds.  Freds are everywhere. I love it when I experience a real life Fred.  I'm inspired just as I am every time I re-read the book.  I thought it would be fun to spread the magic of Fred to our OneMoreStepRevolution community

No comments:

Post a Comment