Starbucks closes 3 hours for barista training

February 26, 2008 7:43:40 PM PST
We all know the economy is in trouble and hard times and competition have hit coffee superstar Starbucks so hard, that some Wall Street analysts have downgraded the stock. 100 stores are being shut down permanently, and all have closed for a few hours on Tuesday night.

Starbucks stock fell 42 percent last year as the company faces new competition from McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts. On Tuesday, the company is closed its doors on all stores for three and a half hours to make time for barista boot camp.

If you're addicted to Starbucks Coffee, you may have had to wait until their doors opened back up.

"Why they have to close at the same time? I don't understand," says one consumer.

It's either a savvy piece of corporate marketing, corporate doctoring, or maybe a bit of both. It's Starbucks' way of implementing a simultaneous re-education of its baristas program.

Kit Yarrow is a consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University. She notes that Starbucks has been in trouble. The company just rehired a former CEO, laid off 600 people, and has announced it will make structural changes, which include the end of warm breakfast sandwiches.

"If you become known for everything, you're not known for anything. So, they're diluting their core message, which is coffee," says Yarrow.

Starbucks used to be all about the coffee. However, somewhere, in all that marketing, the cup o' joe disappeared. The company might take a lesson from a little store called Coffee Roaster. It's a half block from one Starbucks in Jackson Square, and within three blocks of two others.

Amidst the pastries, and homey pictures, and hand-made sandwiches, Ala Yaskin has stood off Starbucks for six years by giving her customers good old fashioned service.

"You want someone who doesn't ask, 'what number?' and you don't even say, 'the usual'. She already knows," says Miquita Price as she describes Yaskin's service.

As you vent about the vente vacuum, the lesson for all of us is not about bigger, but how to get better.

You might wonder how the company plans to give such personal attention to 135,000 employees in all of its locations. Managers claim 'one-on-one' treatment is the way to go and will now pass it on their training to their employees.