district manage-errors

next week i will again be a barista, so this post will be yet another customer rant:

i know how much it sucks when the district and regional manager come to visit (re: scrutinize) a store. not only are all the baristas and managers on edge, but the higher ups always seem to forget that we actually have a store to run. they will continually pull a barista off task to wipe down the lobby chairs, dust the light fixtures, or clean a coffee spill near the outside dumpster. they turn a blind eye to the line of customers waiting for service. they ignore the fact that there is one barista on bar and fifteen drinks on deck. and they blame the store manager for everything - even things beyond their power.

i understand these higher ups have a job to do, and that they want their stores to look perfect, but they must remember that customers don't come in to bux to admire the bean displays. they come in for their beverages and they don't want to wait an inordinate amount of time to partake of them.

it should be apparent to the higher ups that we baristas HATE these visits because it is literally like throwing a wrench into the cogs of an already strained machine. it ruins our mood to be nitpicked, it breaks our flow, and it annoys the customers.

and today it really annoyed THIS customer.

not only did it take an eon to place my order - it took three times as long to get my drink. and it wasn't because the baristas were being slow and lazy. in fact the two baristas on the floor were busting their asses to stay afloat.
the reason?
barista #3 was scraping gum from underneath the hand off bar.
barista #4 was cleaning the grout in the backroom.
and the store manager had been pulled off the floor so the district manager could relay to him everything that was wrong with the rtd case.
such as the vitamin waters had some of their labels facing off center, one of the organic chocolate milks was missing a straw, and one of the protein trays was on the wrong shelf.

now, i understand that these things need to be taken care of - but NOT when you have a line to the door and only two baristas actually working the floor. unfortunately district and regional managers are rarely aware of what working as a barista is really like, and even if they once knew they have blocked out the memories.

i felt really bad for the manager and his employees at this bux. visits like this always suck - for them AND for the customers.


SkippyMom said...

Brat you sum it up perfectly "even if they ever knew they have blocked out completely." Give 'em a tie and a clipboard and the nit picking begins, eh? Drives me bananas... :D


Julie said...

Now I remember, *Shudder* man I hated those visits.

Emily said...

I think managers feel like it's their job to swoop in and "fix problems." If they don't find a problem to fix, they don't feel like they're doing their jobs.

The rub is that they usually just end up creating more problems.

I mean really, the concept of Starbucks isn't that complicated; how hard is it to understand that customers getting drinks should be the #1 priority?

Seth said...

Sounds like the managers should toss on an apron and help out making drinks. But that's probably beneath them isn't it?

That sucks Brat.

Twinx said...

That's so strange - our district manager was in store all day today, and we were so short staffed it was an absolute nightmare.

Zoltar Panaflex said...

Wouldn't it be more useful for the visiting jerks to 'pretend to be a customer' and get in line and simply order a drink? Seems to me that's the best way to get an idea of how the store is going.

But then again, Starbucks is not doing so well, that what - 97% profit loss probably roasted some asses into the unreasonable reaches.

I suppose if one had to go on a foray to a store with a roasted ass, nit-picking helps such tiny people into showing some power.

And that's pathetic.

Glad to see you back, Brat. Best wishes to you, your blog is the best!

Meghan said...

I wonder what the DM would have said if you had tapped him/her on the shoulder, as a customer, and said, "Excuse me, Sir/Ma'am. Could you please allow these employees to serve us? There is a line of customers here, and none of us really care about the gum under the counter or the labels in the display case. We just want to get our coffee and get out of here."

Hehehe. They couldn't snap at you, right? After all, you are a customer, and it would be a good point :)

barista brat said...

skippymom - i owe you an email!

julie - they truly suck, don't they?

emily - exactly.

seth - seriously, that's the most helpful they could be.

twinx - i think it's that time of year when they visit the stores.

zoltar panaflex - i want to add a link to your blog, but you have more than one. which one do you want on the sidebar?

meghan - if i was there with my friend, i would have had a friend do that, but the district manager knows me, and i admit i fear retribution!

Anonymous said...

I am a DM AND Regional Manager from an up and coming retail/juice bar chain. Your comments are exactly why I personally throw on a t-shirt and grab a blender and serve the line up when my stores are short staffed and already freaking because I'm there!
I also would like to add that a manager with any balls should pull the DM aside when all the madness hits and take ownership of his/her store by calling a time out so the customers aren't a part of that process.
Those are the managers that I single out as possibly taking my place as I climb the power ladder.

evilolive said...

i've read alot of your comments, and i feel the same way on so many of these issues.
i think dm's should be required to bar (or atleast double bar) at all of the bux in his/her district atleast once or twice, and during peak times. it'd be a real eye opener!! (i'd pay money to see a regional manager bar, ha!) it is almost humanly impossible to keep up with the many demands of corporate during certain times, and sadly, many higher up's don't understand that.
i think mr. shultz and his team need to understand that without his partners, bux is nothing. sales are down because 1)the economy's taking a shit and 2)partners are either unhappy or not well trained. How can you train partners effectively if you don't have the time to stop and teach them? How can you stop to teach them if you don't have enough coverage on the floor? And who gives a rat's ass about the water bottles, really!? It takes a certain type of person to do well as a bux barista (i feel pretty fricken' extraordinary sometimes). If your employees are happy and feel supported, then ultimately it leads to legendary service and perfect espresso, because you have partners that care. seems like a no-brainer to me...

kelly said...

.......or clean a coffee spill near the outside dumpster....


ty-ping said...


It's things like this that make you almost give up on even being a patronage of certain establishments after you quit let alone being able to stick around working at them.

Never worked at a Bux but you get this bull at pretty much any chain store you work in and it has turned me off of even being a customer at most of the places I have worked at.