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Book Review:
The Starbucks Experience
Joseph Michelli’s new book gives readers a unique insight into one of America’s strongest brands and it got there.
The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli

There have been several books written about Starbucks, but none are more practical for the restaurant operator than The Starbucks Experience (McGraw Hill, $21.95) by Joseph Michelli.

Although the manuscript was read by Starbucks officials before publication, the well-written business book objectively illustrates how the coffeehouse turned ordinary into extraordinary. The Starbucks Experience should be required reading for any operator who hopes to emulate the chain’s 13,000 locations around the globe or annual sales of $7.8 billion (Starbucks 2006 figures).

Says the Library Journal: “Readers will discover a rich mix of ideas and techniques that will help them apply the Starbucks vision, creativity, and leadership to their own careers, workplaces, and companies. Michelli shares fascinating information.”

Great Employees Make the Difference

The Starbucks name is synonymous with coffee. Forty millions customers visit each week and the most loyal customer visits “their” Starbucks store 18 times per month. Employee turnover is 250 percent lower than the industry average. That’s not an accident.

“Legendary service comes from a genuine desire and effort to exceed what the customer expects,” Michelli writes. “Repeatedly, customers have shared experiences of Starbucks partners doing the extraordinary—making a connection well beyond some formulaic greeting.”

“One of the reasons that Starbucks employees are often so pleasant and helpful is that Starbucks is a great company to work for,” says Starbucks partner Joy Wilson in The Starbucks Experience. “It takes care of employees and treats us with respect. That mind-set trickles down from the executives to the thousands of baristas worldwide.”

According to the book, leaders create a unique culture for employees in which empowerment, entrepreneurship, quality, and service define the values. As an example of this leadership style, Michelli recounts how when employees brought up the lack of paid leave for adoptive parents, Starbucks leadership responded by providing this parent group a two-week benefit.

“If leaders expect staff to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers, those same leaders must respond to concerns and exceed expectations on behalf of their staff,” Michelli writes.

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