One last discussion about Starbucks and I’ll cross it off my list.
When I originally planned to write about Starbucks it was to indulge myself in exploring “What if”. I agree with Tom Peters, author of Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, who thinks we need to rethink the way we do business. I think it is important exercise for all organizations to look at where they’re at today and boldly experiment with new ideas, services, and products.
As I discussed in my last post on Starbucks,
there is a need to constantly surprise the customer with value-added products or services. Starbucks has a history of giving the customer a strong value-added product and service; however, the company has gone through a phase of retreat, which if continued will be a slow downward spiral that will eventually lead to the demise of Starbucks.
So the next logical phase is to leap forward with bold new ideas. When I say bold, I mean the kind of stuff that leaves people firing Facebook posts and Tweets to their friends about the crazy new product, service, or experience.
Starbucks Next Generation
If I were designing the next generation of Starbucks locations. Here are some of the key elements I would consider:
- Maintain the anchor as a fresh Coffee/Tea retail outlet
- Expand the customer base with focus on Women and Business customers
- Value-Added changes that enhance the Third Place concept
- Increase traffic and time spent in store
- Diversify the revenue base in ways that make sense
- Develop partnerships that make sense, but in line with the Starbucks ‘feeling’
- Remodeling to improve the technology and use ‘Green’ building design techniques.
The Starbucks Center
I think most existing Starbucks locations are too small to initiate any advancement of a value-added service. In addition, after five years any store layout becomes stale, so some type of remodel is needed. My idea would be to take twenty percent of the existing stores and remodel them into three-story facilities. A sub ground level, a ground level, and an upper deck.
Part of this level should be a kitchen/storage area, but the rest could be:
- Meeting rooms for public use or Starbucks Life Center programs*
- Public office space (renting by the hour)
- Kitchen area for grill type service
- Hourly child care play room
*Starbucks Life Center would be a revenue-producing program of classes/seminars/training at minimal cost on any subject or skill; however, sales-type programs/training would be forbidden. This might be a program run by Starbucks or merely approved and schedule via Starbucks.
This level would be the main coffee/tea bar area with the following enhancements:
- The Public area(s) would be known as Conversation Zone.
- Noisy equipment should be recessed and sound deadening used to minimize intrusion into Conversation Zone
- Electronic order pads in Conversation Zone. Customers could order and pay via e-pads or at a self-order station.
- Stores offering made-to-order non-traditional fresh grilled food would have a Maitre d’ who would oversee the Conversation Zone and assure quality of service.
- The Drive Thru would offer drinks and prepared food only.
- Whole beans/bulk teas and Starbucks specialty items (cups, etc.) would be in a gift store area known as the B&B store.
In my vision of the next gen of Starbucks, the top deck would be known as the Fourth Place. Plants and partitions in some stores to create a pub-like feel would be one option, or a glass enclosed central deck with an open deck surrounding the central deck. It could be reserved for parties, but mostly it would be a quiet area to drink your coffee, talk, and re-engage in life.
In addition to expanding the Starbucks store I would enlist key partnerships or new Starbucks Divisions that would create adjacent enterprises to a Starbucks location where the Conversation Zone/Top Deck could be shared. One thought is a Wine or Pub Bar. Another is a Children’s Library or a Children’s Experience Center where parents could sign their child up for a class that supplements the Public School curriculum. The parent could relax with friends in the Conversation Zone while her or his child is taking a class.
Back to Reality
The point is not about the substance of the ideas, but about the need for every organization to periodically dream or Re-Imagine! Customers like consistency and familiarity, but the also like to be pleasantly surprised. What will Starbucks look like in 2014? I don’t know, but I believe they will either look boldly exciting and different, or they will be irrelevant.
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