Memo to Starbucks on Ways to Improve

I hope Starbucks leaked the Howard Schultz memo about Starbucks on purpose. It’s nice to see a big company’s self awareness before things get really bad.

Here is my memo back to Starbucks.

Recently in California I’ve seen the spread of the It’s a Grind franchise – a company that offers a wide selection of delicious drip coffee and free wifi. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is everywhere in LA (however for some reason I’ve been annoyed with most experiences I’ve had there).

Here are some little things Starbucks could do to improve:

  • Tweak the drip coffee to make it less bitter. Have you ever met anyone who said they liked Starbucks coffee? I haven’t. Yes we all drink it anyway but still, wouldn’t it be nice if we enjoyed it instead of it being an addiction + convenience thing?
  • Have an on call fill-in staff. I’ve been in super high traffic locations where there’s no other coffee joint in the vicinity, when there’s only 1 cashier. Even so I’ve seen customers walk out facing lines 20 people deep. Would it work for Starbucks to have floating cashiers who got paid more to be on call to step in at locations that needed extra help for a day or two? I know I’d love that job for the variety.
  • Have centralized food replenishment. It’s Sunday morning and at 11am a Starbucks across from a Coffee Bean has run out of scones. The cashier’s answer was “Well I guess people like scones” rather than we don’t have enough scones. On the other hand it appears Starbucks’ attempt to go into donuts seems like a woeful failure. Every shop I’ve gone into seems to have an ample stock of chocolate old fashioneds. At $1.50 a pop the donuts seem steep considering they likely are not the freshest globs of fried dough on the block. Use that shelf space for the most popular items (scones !)
  • Discount your gift cards for large quantities. I bought 10 $10 cards ($100 worth) and didn’t even get a free drip coffee. Someone else told me they bought hundreds worth of cards and got nothing as a thank you. Peet’s has always given you a free cup with a pound of coffee. When you buy a card with $20 on it you get a $1 discount on your purchase (a 5% savings). If Starbucks is worried about loyalty, give us a little more incentive to buy these cards, which result in loyalty.
  • Free WIFI. That’s right. I don’t know how much T-mobile pays you, but blocking other wifi is archaic. Feed us Starbucks ads with the free wifi if you want but offer it.
  • Have a selection of drips – light and dark. Based on what I’ve seen and tasted at the Coffee Bean and other up and coming coffee chains, this is a must.

Starbucks I gladly offer you these ideas for the taking.


One Comment

  1. Ditto! Making the coffee less bitter would bring them much more business.Let’s see, I can make my Folgers the way I want it and pay $.33 a gallon or I can buy ‘buck’s bitter brew at $55 a gallon. And I already have wifi at my house. Why would I want to pay for it somewhere else?


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