less means more (work)

latest word from the bean tree is that howard has decided to be proactive about our profit losses. so he has figured out a way to help save money, and therefore save our company.
"is he finally getting rid of those sandwiches brat hates so much?" you might be asking.
"i bet he's realized that brewing coffee every half hour means a lot of wasted dollars down the drain." some of you might have deduced.
unfortunately for all of us, the corner mr. schultz has decided to cut is labor.

that's right.
you see - apparently he's learned (over his decades in the business) that when your customers are already unhappy with your products and your service, the best thing to do is cut labor. that nothing will get those profit margins up like having less workers on the floor to serve drinks and deep clean. that you customers won't mind a bit having to wait longer in dirtier stores for your beverages that have been made by baristas who are overworked and micromanaged.

i guess it's a good thing howard didn't ask my opinion about how to get our stock value back up, because if he had i never would have suggested running the store with less labor. you see - i would have made the sorry and misguided decision to cut costs by not keeping a fully stocked pastry case all day long, which leads to hundreds of dollars a week in expired pastries that have to be thrown away.
i would NOT have spent the money to re-tool all the espresso machines - especially since those very machines that were re-tooled are being replaced by brand new espresso machines (that i'm sure cost a pretty penny).
and yes, i would have gotten rid of those damn ovens!

i guess i just don't see the long term cost benefits of having less employees on the floor to do the same (if not more, in some cases) amount of work.
i don't see how it would appeal to a customer to spend their hard earned money at an establishment that doesn't seem to care anymore about quality or service.
it seems that all the things that made bux so great (for the barista AND the customer) are being phased and/or forced out - only to be replaced by mediocrity at best.
i'm sorry, but i don't know any regular customers that come to bux because the coffee is "so great". they come, day after day, because of the connection they have with their baristas.
well - if this connection is no longer possible, then what reason do they have to keep coming back?

barista rant: please do not play 'whack-a-mole' with your beverage at my bar. i know it seems like it will be lots of fun to jam your straw into your iced beverage one-handed, but when you miss and end up spilling the entire contents of your drink all over my bar - well, fun is the last word to describe it. please use both hands to poke your straw through the lid, that way you won't have to wait for me to remake your beverage, and i won't have to wish a pox upon your house.


SkippyMom said...

It usually is labor costs that are cut first, isn't it? They see that as their greatest expense, not realizing everything you pointed out [the waste of food/coffee would drive me BONKERS!] - I think they completely miss the point.

I just hope the 'bux buying public doesn't take it out on the baristas and realize what 'bux higher ups have actually done.

To use your term "Pox on Howard's house." BAH!

Zoltar Panaflex said...

You have to wonder than with the financial issues, Howard is smoking cheaper stuff, and making equally cheap decisions....

KH said...

I have noticed that many restaurant owners and managers are much to quick to jump on the, "cut labor," bandwagon, when there are literally dozens of other ways to cut costs on things like food loss, energy loss, and labor management.

Jennifer said...

Wow, it's amazing how much decades of experience can not make a person smarter about cutting cost decisions. My local bux can not afford to loose baristas. Unless there is dead weight among them, that loosing would make them more efficient. But that can't be the case in every store! I agree with your idea to get rid of the ovens used for sandwiches. I've NEVER bought a sandwich at bux and doubt I'd ever be desperate enough to... I go to bux for lattes and iced coffee! Why not stick with what they are good at and cut the extra crap that leans away from what bux is - a coffee shop! There are a million small ways to say money (and energy) that add up big. Then they could advertise how they are "going green" and pull in some money that way.

Meghan said...

Wow. So sorry to hear that. Do you know how much of a blow it will be? Like, each store cuts 10% of its employees or something?

This is just one more thing that makes their mandate of "legendary service" ring hollow. Employees can be as legendary as they come, but if they can't keep up with the line of customers because they're understaffed, no amount of "legendary" will fix that.

Anonymous said...

you are completely right brat ; I feel your pain. Good luck.

John said...

I have already been told not to come into my next shift because of the labor cuts. We are also losing a shift supervisor that we don't have enough of in my opinion.

Jennifer said...

Jesus Christ on a buttered bagel, Brat, could you BE more unreasonable??? It's SO obvious! Fewer baristas = fewer individuals to whom complaints may be directed.

Sheesh. I would have thought that in all your years in the business you would have figured THAT out... ;-)

Terrell said...

At my store, this is mostly affecting the shift supervisors. Baristas are actually getting more hours, starting next week. But shifts? One shift has 25 hours, all the others are below that. The message here? Get promoted, lose your hours. Hrrm.

And now their hours can no longer overlap, which you know, kinda sucks.

Johnny Yen said...

Schultz must have gone to the same business school as the CEO of Circuit City. About a year ago, the CEO of Circuit City got the fabulous idea that Circuit City didn't really need the more experienced (and more costly) of their employees, and laid them off.

Of course, those of us without MBA's might be saying "Hey, but that's the reason I go to a store to purchase something, rather than buy it cheaper online; I want to talk to someone who know's what they're doing."

Of course, Circuit City filed for bankruptcy and reorganization a few weeks ago, and had to close a bunch of their stores.

Yeah, having to wait extra time for a beverage will absolutely improve the Bux experience for the average customer. Good going, Howard.

RastaManErn said...

It happens all the time. Cutting your staff instead of listening to their ideas about improvement is perhaps the dumbest thing any owner/operator can do.

I was replaced by two interns fresh out of uni at my last office. I've heard that they lasted 2 months, and in general, people new hires stay only 6-9 months now. Bang up job, management.

Anonymous said...

CEO's and upper mgmt don't MAKE anything tangible. They don't sell anything, they don't really DO anything to make a company more profitable. The EASIEST way to make more money is to cut ppl. Cut 100 positions and *bam*... you just made $5.5 million dollars. Whew, that was easy.

Anonymous said...

Not only are the ovens not going away, they are expanding! Oh for freaking joy! I have been lucky enough to work in a market that doesn't have the warming program.... but not anymore!

Shortly after the holidays, the ovens are going in our stores. Didn't (they) promise the warming program would be going away? Whatever happened to that!?



Moxie said...

I admit to liking the piadinis - that spinach and mushroom one is addictive. But it seems there are too many Bux items/products to manage now...wasn't that GM's downfall, not improving existing models but instead adding new ones?

And yes, I go to my local Bux because the staff are friendly and they have a clue. Unfortunately it's been so damn cold in there lately that I don't want to stay very long. I can't work if my teeth are chattering.

Aimee said...

This is happening in my field, too (tech). We just had a major downsizing this morning. When people complain that they have to wait an extra week for support, maybe then they'll realize what a mistake they made. I'm sure as hell not going to kill myself at my job--I have a life outside of work, thankyouverymuch. /rant

Meghan said...

I think that everyone is downsizing these days... not that it's the best decision, but it's becoming common and I think complaining about it being a bad decision isn't the right way to go about it. Yes there are ways to save money that don't involve cutting jobs; unfortunately it's the quickest and easiest way.
But I don't think people go to SBUX to interact with their baristas - at least that's not why myself or any of my friends do. I think it's a combination of the specialty drinks (peppermint mochas, etc) and the ubiquity of them - at least in NYC, there's so many that it's just easy to go to a sbux as opposed to anywhere else.
Just an alternative viewpoint!

Mike (no longer in Seattle) said...

So let me get this straight, Howard: People aren't buying as much of your product, so your solution is to make it less attractive (longer wait times and less pleasant surroundings)? How does this make sense?

Bux is an entirely discretionary purchase. I can make coffee at home for less or get it at the office for free. I go to bux for the experience. If that experience is degraded, I head for one of the many indies that are available. And my consumption patterns tend to be sticky; once I leave, I tend not to come back.


Hungry Bitch said...

Fortunately in Bangkok there are no "warming programs": fucking hot enough here already. Rant: a venti drip costs 110 thai baht= 3.20 US fucking dollars... or about half a days pay for a factory worker. No, I don't want a slice of fucking cheesecake. :)

Hungry Bitch said...

OK, the stock sucks too, last trading at $9.34. Picked up 2000 shares at 9.30 average. If I lose money on this trade I'm going postal. HB

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the way large companies stay in business is by focusing on improving the back end. You really want the face of the company to be as nice and pleasant as possible, while having the back end be as efficient as possible. I know at my store, we get pastries we didn't order, don't get pastries we did order, get pastries we ordered 2 weeks ago...if all of this were improved, a decent amount of money could be saved. What's more, our food case is so full that unless we get unexpectedly slammed, we will throw out about a third of those pastries at the end of the day. If we get slammed, the shortage of available hands during a shift means we'll probably be unable to restock, and end up throwing a few boxes of pastries without them even having been on the shelf. We will sell about 10-20 percent of the merchandise before we discount it. If we were able to carry only 2-3 of each item and were able to get them within two days of reordering them, we would not have to do this.

Heck, why are we even doing the order by hand? Why aren't at least the merchandise sales directly tied into our POS system? Oh, because the POS is back end, which means it is now 12 years old.

Pita said...

We went to our favorite Bux last night and it was crazy busy. We live in a college town and it's finals week. Plus, the Bux is next to the mall filled with Christmas shoppers.

It was 4:00pm and only three baristas were running the store. These three are some of the best Bux has and we know them to be bright, energetic, and fun to talk to. Last evening they were so stressed and overworked they couldn't even smile. The store was so dirty, with trash cans overflowing, no milk on the condiment stand or Splenda. The bakery case all but empty.

We felt guilty ordering drinks and mad at whoever only put three people on to work a busy Sunday.

I see it at my convenience store job as well. We have cut hours yet again, yet are expected to maintain our high level of cleanliness and customer service. Yeah right!