The Starbucks Philosophy for Success

Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, shares his philosophies that have helped build a brand that is known the world over.


The Starbucks Philosophy for Success

“Compromise anything but your core values.”

In 2008 the company was faltering and Schultz returned as CEO.

“We needed to return to the core principle of the company, which was to source and roast the highest quality coffee in the world and deliver it perfectly to our customers. To reinforce the company’s commitment to this cause, I temporarily closed about 7 100 stores for several hours to retrain Starbucks employees. It was unprecedented and cost us millions of dollars.”

The lesson: Whether you’re an independent business considering franchising, a small chain or a multi-national giant, core values and well-trained staff who believe in those core values are essential to franchise success. For franchisees, carefully research the quality of training offered to you and your staff. Does this training help deliver on the brand’s core values?

“Don’t be threatened by people smarter than you.”

“Early on I realised that if I had any intention of truly growing the business, I had to hire people smarter, more qualified than I was in a number of different fields, and I had to let go of a lot of decision-making. I can’t tell you how hard that is. But if you’ve imprinted your values on the people around you, you can dare to trust them to make the right moves.”

The lesson: A successful franchise is built on a head office support team who in turn support the franchisees and drive growth. It’s hard admitting that you can’t do everything perfectly yourself, but it’s more exciting realising there are smarter people out there who can help you achieve your business dream. For franchisees, research your franchisor’s history and support team for experience and credentials.

“If the espresso isn’t good enough, you have my permission to pour it out and begin again.”

“For our espresso beverages, steaming milk to create a creamy, sweet consistency is crucial. Unfortunately in the name of efficiency, our company had created the bad habit of re-steaming milk. We had to correct these behaviours and return to higher standards.”

This meant giving permission to start again if it wasn’t done properly the first time. Sounds like a huge waste, but with proper training, product was actually saved. In fact, re-steaming meant proper consistency wasn’t being reached and millions of dollars of milk was being poured down the drain.

The lesson: Be careful when expanding not to compromise the quality of your offering. Customers remain loyal to a brand when they remain authentic to their core values. For franchisees, carefully research your franchisor to determine how they’re balancing quality with cost-effectiveness, and what training they provide with product or service delivery.

Tracy Lee Nicol
About the Author
Tracy-Lee Nicol is the managing editor of Franchise Zone Magazine and deputy editor of Entrepreneur Magazine. She studied her Masters degree in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University and spent the next two years working and travelling in Asia. Her love of people, business and teaching is reflected in telling the stories of entrepreneurs, franchisees and franchisors, inspiring others to take the leap to being their own boss and bringing about positive change in South Africa.

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