It was fourth of July, 2:30 p.m. My favorite local micro roasting coffee shop, Blue Kangaroo, had just closed for the day. I needed coffee. I had two choices if I was going to sate my caffeine jones:
1) The Starbucks four blocks away or
2) The Starbucks 10 blocks away.
Coincidentally, I had just finished reading Onward, the latest book by Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schulz. Working in the loyalty industry, I follow Starbucks because they are considered the bellwether of customer rewards programs . At 300+ pages, Onward requires a sense of dedication. In the end, I was rewarded with insight on a number of topics, not least of which was Schulz’ ruminations on Starbucks’ as a community gathering spot. A so-called “Third Place,” after home and work, where “people can connect with others and reconnect with themselves.” Heady stuff. I mostly just needed to wake up after an early afternoon nap. Still, I had to decide between two locations – and I decided on the one twice as far away.
I did so for reasons that before reading the book I took for granted: the store has a steady staff that greet you with a smile, the store was tastefully remodeled about three years ago, they know how to move the line, and most importantly, they’ve always prepared me a good drink. So much so that I’ve defended them from the coffee snobs : “It depends on the Starbucks, the one in my neighborhood. . . .”
When I got there, I decided to strike up a conversation with the barista:
Me: did you have negative comps at any point?
Barista: Not sure
Me: what percent of customers use the loyalty card/ app?
Barista: We have a lot of regulars, probably 50% customers use the loyalty program. Not just to get the free drink, but to upgrade every drink with free syrups and soy milk. “It’s like $1.50 off every time they use the card.”
Me (pointing to the espresso machine and asking rhetorically as the book covered the topic in detail): Is this the Mastrena?
Me: Do people like to watch you make their drink?
Barista: Yes, some do, they usually stand to the side and wait for it to be served
Me: have you read this (pointing to Onward)?
Barista: I read the first 100 pages or so. . .
Me: Yeah, it was a little repetetive. But informative. Have a Happy Fourth!