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Why Starbucks works


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When I say “Starbucks,” what one word comes to mind?

Every day, millions of people wake up, go through their daily morning routine, and with coffee on their mind head out to their Starbucks oasis.

Ever go to Starbucks? Sure you have. Some of you hundreds of times. Some of you thousands of times. You have your order in mind before you get there. You stand in line, patiently waiting your turn to exchange your money for your reward – your cup of coffee exactly the way you want it. And maybe some other up-sold item. A muffin. A scone. A piece of pound cake. A breakfast sandwich.

The proliferation of Starbucks is nothing short of phenomenal. But you can read about that elsewhere. My focus is on why you go there and continue going there.

Yes, you’re looking for a morning jolt. But why Starbucks?

Here are a few of the reasons people (including me) go there:

Atmosphere. Looks like a living room or a break room. Relaxed.

Warmth. The whole place feels like a cup of hot coffee.

People-friendly. Smile is their order of the day.

The ability to customize your order. Size. Content. And the widest variety of product (eliminating the “We don’t carry that” option from their response).

Speed of delivery. Somebody takes your order. Somebody else makes your order. And maybe even a third person gets your muffin. You don’t have to wait long for gratification.

Consistent quality of product. Whatever you were thinking or hoping for when you walked in the door is exactly what you receive a few short minutes later. No matter where I am in the world, my cup of coffee is consistently superior.

It’s easy to buy and pay. Starbucks has its own prepaid cards. They’re so popular that people give them as gifts.

Technology-friendly. I can Wi-Fi there. It’s easy to get connected. The Wi-Fi element in Starbucks is so significant that T-Mobile and AT&T are slugging it out to see who can pay more for the privilege of providing the service.

Business-friendly. People meet there to do business. There are plenty of tables and chairs. Some even use Starbucks as an office.

Social-friendly. People meet there to socialize.

Clean restrooms. For the most part.

Beyond a cup of coffee. You can purchase other stuff at Starbucks besides your cup of coffee. A pound of your favorite blend to take home. Mugs to drink it from. And espresso machines so you can be your own barista.

SUMMARY: People are willing to stand in line, pay in advance and walk three blocks in the rain to get their Starbucks jolt.

LESSON: Look at the Starbucks model of multiple ways to purchase the same core product: coffee. Look at the atmosphere in which they sell it: warm and friendly. Look at the consistency of the delivered product. And look at the detail they go through in order to make certain that you are gratified to make that purchase, and likely to return. Then compare those elements to your business. And tell me if you can stack up to the Starbucks standard.

How friendly are your people?

How flexible are your offerings?

How easy is it to buy things and pay for things in your company?

Who is willing to come to your place every day and spend money?

CHALLENGE: Take 10 of your people – your sales team, your office team, even your production team – to Starbucks on a field trip. Buy stuff, drink stuff, eat stuff and study what it is they’re doing in order to make the customer loyal without sacrificing price or quality. Bring that information back to your business and put it into action.

Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached by phone at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com. © 2009 Jeffrey H. Gitomer

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