to bux, with love

dear bux,

hi! how's it going? just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how things have been at my store.

as i'm sure you already know, we did not make our sales goal for the brewing event. even though we wasted barista hours with daily demos, and giving away free lattes made with the machines that were on sale, we still fell flat and were nowhere close to making our goal. of course, a large percentage of our customers are kids from the four neighboring schools around us, and even though they are from very affluent families it was pretty obvious that none of them were going to throw down several hundred dollars for an espresso machine (especially when all they order is frappuccinos).

but i digress.

what i really wanted to talk to you about was our new drinks. you know the ones i'm talking about: the dulce de leche latte and the dulce de leche frappuccino.
now i've been instructed to sample our new beverages every half hour. i know, i know, you expect us to sample ALL the time - not just when we have new beverages, but you know what? in all the time i've worked for bux i've NEVER had a customer sample a beverage and then order it.
a sample for the customer is just a mini-freebie. that's all. not only that, every day three to five people come in asking for samples of drinks and pastries and then leave after we've given it to them. you understand? they don't order a single thing except for the sample.

also, do you remember bringing back the cinnamon dolce latte and cinnamon dolce frappuccino a short while ago? not only that, last year you introduced the iced cafe con leche. so you know what is now happening in my bux? we have customers asking for "cinnamon dulce de latte cafe con leches".

that's right.
and what follows is a five minute conversation while we, the baristas, try to figure out which drink the customer really wants. and then they get huffy with us because they felt stupid while ordering their drink. meanwhile the line of customers behind mr./ms. huffy is growing longer and more agitated by the moment.
and yet you expect us to hand a customer their drink within three minutes of them entering our store. let me tell you - that is not possible when we have to upsell, explain the menu, fix mis-ordered drinks and sample all at the same time.

so please, bux - take a cue from christina aguilera and get 'back to basics'.


barista brat

partner rant: please don't call me on my day off to tell me how bored you are at work. don't ask me if i'll come in for you so you can go party. and CERTAINLY don't ask if i'll call other stores to cover your shift. it's my friggen' day off!


Andrew said...

Heh, that's harsh. I'd get really pissed if my coworker asked me to come in so they could go relax and party. Starbucks would make more if they sold frapps blenders for the brewing event. ^_^;;

Moxie said...

Am I right in thinking that Bux charges more when the drink is the "special" than when you order it "off-season"? My BF got a grande dulce de leche frap last week and I nearly fell over when I saw it was $4.05. It tasted good, but not THAT good.

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Well said. Starbucks should stick to the basics. Most people order their usual 90% of the time, like me. I get so overwhelmed looking at the menu that I just end up ordering my usual tazo chai.

Even when summer runs around and I should drink something iced, I tend to go for my hot tazo chai anyway, because I don't like iced drinks. And I also find them cloyingly sweet.

They should do some market research and really see who they're selling to (like you said, affluent kids - maybe appeal to another side of them)

I do however, want to sample those mango things. I'll buy one tomorrow. But what happened to the delicious cream cheese muffins!? *sob* Oh well.

Allan said...

I finally broke down and went to the new Starbux here...I was baffled by the choices- I was afraid of badly mis-pronouncing something, so I asked the barista for a large coffee and "one of those pastries".

He gave me exactly what I wanted without requiring further explanation. It was cool.Keep the change and all..

Pixie said...

Hi Barista Brat!

First time commenting here but I've been reading your blog for a few months now and have loved it from the first time I came across it. Thanks for the great reads! :)

A few weeks ago, I had my first Starbucks experience. I was curious to check one out since I'd been reading your blog for some time and when I came across one I took my chance.

It was a confusing experience trying to figure out what to order. Not knowing what the drinks were, I didn't want to make the barista have to explain the whole thing (it was fairly busy). So I just ordered a 'small' hot chocolate -regular brown chocolate- with whipped cream and happily received my order with a smile.

It was what I ordered but omg was it sweet!!! Way more than what I usually prefer, I'd take about 1/3 of the 'syrup' or whatever they put in. I'll definitely ask for less next time!

Question, if I may :)

Are there pamphlets in store that help explain the menu and beverages? I'd like to try some of the 'fancier' drinks but would like to know what I'm getting before I get it.

I'm sure there is a way to look it up on the bux site but honestly, I don't want to put in that time just to know what to order when in a bux, lol!

Anyhoo, thanks for sharing your experiences through this blog. I look forward to each new entry!


Anonymous said...

Sample every half hour? I think that might be coming from your DM or your SM. Everything I've read says we only need to sample three times a day. I would go nuts if I had to do that every half hour.

I guess I've been lucky that, at my bux, there has been very little confusion over the Cinnimon Dolce and the Dulce de Leche drinks..... and it's been MONTHS since I had anyone ask for a Cafe Con Leche.

Are you dreading the summer? I read we are geting Creme Frappuccino Light in May. Ugg.... it's gonna be hell.


zu.chinni said...

cinnamon dulce de latte cafe con leches.

THAT is what i call a mouthful :)
how DO they come up with such things anyway? I used to barista at bux during my hols, thank goodness no one ever asked me for that. hehe

great blog you have here, ur a wordsmith :) really enjoy the writing

Marcus said...

thank god that the malaysian starbucks franchisee doesn't insist on doing those marketing talks... cos i would get pissed off as a customer because it just means more delays

and that GOD that our drinks aren't updated that much because customers here would get confused (and not know how to order whatever it is) and then I would get pissed off especially when all I usually want is a low fat latte in my flask.

I mean, i even get annoyed when the person behind the counter pushes the new drink they just got... especially when i'm direct about what i want to drink...

i love the christina aguilera comment too... and too bad starbucks usa won't read this and change... *sigh*

Eric said...

Here here
And for the rant, of al lthe unmitigated gall.

6th Floor blog said...

It seems like people the frequent coffee houses/Starbucks usually order their usual, or what they already know. The other people are too overwhelmed that even with a sample they're afraid to order something that they don't understand.

And for Pixie(and others) the Nutritional guide describes what is in each drink pretty sucinctly. http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_beverages.asp
I've never seen a paper copy, but if there was one for me to look at when ordering it'd make things a lot easier.

ADW said...

Ordering at Starbucks is very intimidating, which is probably why I don't go there very often. However, I have ordered drinks from there after trying what my frinds were drinking.

Maybe if people want samples, they could ask for them at "slow" times, or is there no such thing??

Beth said...

I have to admit, I usually hate the sample drinks. Too much frou-frou.

Anonymous said...

If my work mates called me on my day off, I'd order caller i.d. and start using it!

Anonymous said...

so are you sayingthat u dont want to call out the drink..' grande dulce de leche blended frappucino with a pump of cinnamon dulce adn extra caramel?' or explaining the difference between the two.. i find it entertaining..

SkippyMom said...

just came by to give you a skippyhug....i don't have the [interntet] access or the attention span right now, sorry, really...giggle ...giggle...to indulge in a month's worth of your wonderful posts.

miss you brat.

hugs, skippy.

Dr. Gonzo said...

Whoever came up with the idea of a brewing event for starbucks obviously is thinking with something other than their head (Maybe a foot). People who come to Starbucks don't want to make their own coffee. Their willing to pay that extra dollar to get some pretty good fresh brewed coffee (but more importantly) that they don't have to worry about brewing themselves. For instance, the high school students you mentioned. No wonder it fell on its face

Tom said...

Maybe there was a moment somewhere in the 3rd century A.D. when some emperor issued some edict that the guy in the Roman street thought was just plain over the top dumb, and maybe it was at that moment that the great inexorable rise of empire crested and began to fall, maybe from there it was only one short leap to sheep grazing in the ruins of the forum, and maybe this moment, right now, is when Starbucks passes the zenith of its rise and begins to sink. You think?

barista brat said...

andrew - actually last year we did have blenders. and no, they didn't sell either.

moxie - yeah, seasonal drinks are expensive. i guess it's because of the extra work that goes into developing the syrup.

fabulously broke - those muffins were also seasonal, but i'm sure they will be back. and i agree, most of our customers order the same thing every single day.

allan - yes, i think some universities are offering a minor in 'starbonics'.

pixie - thanks for reading! there is a nutritional guide at the condiment bar that lists all the drinks, but it doesn't explain them too well. and it sounds like the person who made your hot chocolate added too many pumps of vanilla! hope your next experience is better!

schlatko - yeah, our dm wants every partner to sample three times per each of their shifts so my asm made a chart where everyone is rotating every half hour. it sucks. and i want to shoot whoever decided we should offer cbb light.

zu.chinni - thanks for stopping by!

marcus - i'm thinking i want to transfer to your neighborhood bux, haha.

eric - yes, unmitigated gall for sure! i think you should start copywriting your phrases!

6th floor blog - yes, i wish bux would remember that our regular customers are the ones keeping us in business, and most of them do NOT order the crazy drinks.

adw - slow times would definately be better, but it still makes us mad when they come in every day for samples and NEVER order anything that costs money!

beth - that's why you are a beloved bux customer.

anonymous - yeah, i've decided to let all calls from work go directly to voice mail from now on.

anonymous - amusing for you, yes, haha. not so much for the baristas.

skippymom - i've missed you!

dr. gonzo - if only corporate were as logical as you.

tom - haha, perhaps. even so, i'm never gonna join the starbucks union!

robot said...

I did my share of time at *$, and several years later I work in marketing. The thing about the samples is that they're not supposed to inspire people to immediately change from a tall drip to a blendorama special, but they're just to build awareness of how [insert adjective] these drinks are so that when the customer's looking for something new to cure the blues, or when his stepdaughter is visiting for the summer, there's something in their memory bank that's sweet and creamy.

Besides, latte drinkers already know who they are. At some point, Starbucks just started "innovating" for its own sake so that things don't look stale.

It's great to take ownership of the store as a partner (and I remember feeling the same way), but just accept that people are going to continue ordering half-caf two splenda with-whip vanillamachino ventis no matter what's on the menu...they'll order drinks that other chains make, they'll make things up, and they will pronounce things in ways you couldn't dream of. Many wouldn't know a quality shot if they tasted one. That's the biz. You just have to be thankful for the astute regulars, and ignore the waddling masses.

i <3 yr blog, though...it's weird, but i miss working at the bux.

Anonymous said...

Your customer situations are very familiar to me, during my 25+ years in retail sales. Some types never fade, they just change faces.
But here's a hint. When I've been ordering a double short latte for most of that time, giving me a double tall and telling me the extra milk is a bonus, is not the reason the order is for a short.
Some of us like the coffee taste.
(signed: WadeGexe)

Jen said...

I used to work in a deli where giving samples was the norm. For instance, we had four different kinds of chicken salad. So, I understood and glady let people sample. But almost every day, there would be at least one person that wanted to try 5, 6, or 7 different salads, snarfed the sample down while telling me how horrible it tasted and then demanding a different salad to sample. Wash, rinse and repeat until they had eaten their fill and then waltzed away without buying a damn thing and leaving their messy sample cups and spoons behind on my pristine counter.