Standardization Vs. Accuracy @ Starbucks


    Maybe *$ mgmt IS dumb, they put the “get a coffee and egg san… on Twitpic

    I visited my local hometown Starbucks the other day and saw their promotional sign that's in every Starbucks — get a coffee and sandwich for $3.95 or something like that.

    I went up to the registered and ordered “a tall coffee and the reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich, please.”

    She responded, “Oh, we don't have the sandwiches here.”

    I was polite and just ordered the coffee, but I'm thinking: “Why in the hell do you have the sign up front, here in THIS store, promoting the hot breakfast sandwiches?”

    Apparently Starbucks is choosing the cheaper route of a single standardized sign for all locations. I guess they're promoting these sandwiches for the random locations that DO have said sandwiches. It might have been more expensive to have two separate signs made for stores with the full menu and those with just pastries.

    But how many times a day does the barista get asked for a hot sandwich? I wonder how frustrating or irritating that is?

    Starbucks couldn't come up with a better way of doing this? Or am I a moron as the customer for not realizing this location does not have the hot sandwiches. Strange.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. So I went to the other Starbucks in Keller TX (also a full-blown standalone location).

      They *did* have the hot sandwiches, but NOT the huge banner that I photograped from the other store. So it’s not a standardization issue.

      Maybe the banner got sent to the wrong store, ha ha?

    2. This is a typical break down in supply chain management and eliminating waste in the whole enterprise. From my understanding (as a Starbucks Addict), they have tested the sandwiches and are now rolling them out to all locations. The problem being some have the signs, some have ovens but not sandwiches yet, and so on. There is a Starbucks in Tyler that has the same signs and an oven but you guessed it, no sandwiches. They are as puzzled as the consumer. When you look at 300 stores being closed and many people losing their jobs, you wander about all the waste in this new product development process roll out. I see the same hiccups in manufacturing all the time. Product development and roll out contains a lot of room for improvement.

    3. A little employee empowerment goes a long way toward preventing things like this. Why did someone in the store post the sign knowing that they did not sell the sandwiches? The corporate decision to send the signs out got the ball rolling, but the staff at the store did not feel like they could choose *not* to post it, even though it didn’t make sense.
      A big part of Lean is pushing authority to make decisions down to the frontline employee.


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