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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: Can Schultz once again fix Starbucks?


I recently finished reading Howard Schultz’s book, “Pour your heart into it – How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time.” When the book was written, Schultz was Starbucks CEO and chairman of the board. While he didn’t start Starbucks, Schultz was the person who made the Seattle-based company an international coffee giant. Throughout his first stint at Starbucks, his goal was not only to introduce Americans to great coffee but to make the company a place where people wanted to work. “I wanted to be the employer of choice,” Schultz wrote in the book that was published in 1997. “By paying more than the going wage in restaurants and retail stores, and by offering benefits that weren’t available elsewhere, I hoped that Starbucks would attract people who were well-educated and eager to communicate our passion for coffee.” Schultz left Starbucks in 2000; returned between 2008 and 2017; and now is back at the helm for a third tour as CEO. The question being asked is whether the now 68-year-old Schultz can right the Starbucks’ ship. During an employee forum held the first week back at Starbucks, Schultz vowed to focus on employees, cafes and customers, not shareholders, writes Heather Haddon for the Wall Street Journal. But the Starbucks of today is not the Starbucks that Schultz left in 2017. Customers are buying more iced drinks than hot ones. Drive-thrus are more popular than in-store purchases and workers, dissatisfied with long hours and understaffed stores, have begun to unionize. “We used to be the leader in pay and benefits,” commented a store manager from Corvallis, Ore. during a company-wide meeting. “Now almost every quick-service restaurant has the same. What are we going to do again to become the leader?” Schultz has told U.S. store leaders that he is reviewing the company’s benefits, staffing and mission statement, writes Haddon. Key is improving relations with workers. “What I need is time,” he said.

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