starbucks systemsStarbucks has a great system that ensures products, services, and their brand, are held to the highest possible standard.

It’s almost embarrassing to realize I visit Starbucks coffee stores so frequently they tend to know me by name!

If my wife Susan didn’t know better, she might be jealous when younger women at various stores cheerfully welcome me as if I were their only customer. She likes to tell people I have the entire U.S. mapped out by Starbucks locations. Of course, when we travel she’s quick to locate one for me with a Google search on her Android.  I like that system!

If I vary from my usual order at almost any Starbucks in Middle Tennessee, they wonder if they’re hearing the right voice. “Phil?” But, that’s the kind of consistent, friendly service I’ve come to expect at Starbucks, wherever I go.

Knowing what I know now about the importance of well-planned business systems, I felt sure the coffee giant had more than just a brilliant strategy for employing great people. Surely, I decided, they MUST operate using some elaborate system of checklists! To my way of thinking, it’s the one thing that could account for their stunning success.

Did Starbucks use Special Systems?

I had to know! So, one Saturday morning, I stopped for my “grande decaf Americana with a little cream.” I was finally able to see the actual checklists that allow them to offer such a consistently high level of service.

Emily, a young “barista” (one who makes those wonderful cups of coffee), was more than willing to answer my questions. Emily had also earned a degree in marketing, and was up on a step ladder cleaning an overhead fixture when I walked in. I ask if she was using a checklist for cleaning. She said, “Yes,” and pointed to a large binder at the end of the counter.

As the person behind the counter made my “usual,” another employee had overheard me talking with Emily. “Ann” was more than happy to show me the whole binder full of checklists, procedures, and other documentation. I saw pages of detailed systems that allow them to take care of ordering supplies, etc. Moreover, their systems keep up with the messes caused by Starbucks enthusiasts; people like me.

The Starbucks Standard for Franchise Cleaning

When the store gets a little slow, Starbucks employees know to take that time to clean. Furthermore, there’s an actual SYSTEM for cleaning those franchises. There needs to be a system, a standard of cleaning, because clean to one person is not necessarily clean to someone else.

The young man explained that each store receives new updates to the system each month, detailing all actions to be taken daily. This ensures consistency and the success of each store.

Certain inspectors are employed by Starbucks Corporate to travel to various stores with their own checklists. They make sure each store is actually following the Starbucks system, as these completed checklists would indicate. Additionally, they have a great follow-up system to ensure that consistently high standard.

Now, you may not be a Starbucks “nut” like some people we know, or even a coffee drinker—but you can’t argue with success.  According to Starbucks corporate website, in 2010, Starbucks posted its net revenues as having increased by 7%—to $10.5 billion for a 52-week period. That’s A LOT of coffee!! No wonder more Americans are waking up to things in these challenging times!

As I’ve stated in my book, System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Businessa detailed checklist system can pretty much guarantee the success of any business. Checklist help to ensure that necessary steps are taken accurately and consistently for any project.

How many times have I heard from service businesses that, “Checklists are for manufacturers?”  I (and maybe Starbucks?) have just one word about that… BOLOGNA!

Did I mention?—Great Systems WORK!

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