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Starbucks - A Coffee Franchise?

With more than 18,000 locations in over 60 countries, Starbucks is not your typical coffee shop. Millions of people consume a short, tall, grande, venti or trenta-size coffee; or any of the company’s additional drink and food options daily. What makes Starbucks so special? Read on…


So where did it all begin?

Starbucks began in the early 1970s when it was a single store in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market run by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker. The breakthrough in expanding Starbucks coffee into a world phenomenon began with Howard Schultz, who joined the company as director of retail operations and marketing in 1982.


When Schultz traveled through Italy in 1983, he became entranced with the experience he had at Italian coffee bars. He sought to recreate that experience in the United States. Although he briefly left Starbucks to try out coffee business ownership on his own, he came back to Starbucks with a relentless desire to grow the Starbucks business concept.


The “Starbucks Experience”

His drive led to Schultz purchasing Starbucks from its original owners in 1987 with the help of investors. Since then, Schultz has created a multi-billion dollar business that is regarded by many as the greatest business success since the emergence of Walmart Stores in 1962.


The “Starbucks Experience” is centered by the company’s mission to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”


Employees are encouraged to create personalized customer experiences – think names written on the customer’s order. Customer service is a priority. Starbucks employees are trained in ways to diffuse unpleasant situations in an effort to give customers a positive experience whenever possible. According to Joseph Michelli, author of The Starbucks Experience, the “genius” of the company’s success lies in its proven ability to “…secure customer loyalty, stimulate business growth, generate profits, and energize employees – all at the same time”.


coffee beans

Is Starbucks a coffee franchise?

For decades, Starbucks resisted the temptation of being a coffee franchise, though Starbucks Corporation began maintaining a franchise under its umbrella called Seattle’s Best Coffee, which was acquired in 2003.


It multiplied its network through unique business partnership alliances from its earliest beginnings. Although it wasn’t a franchise, Starbucks’ underlying principles lent themselves very well to the principles of franchising. Potential franchisors and franchisees could take inspiration seeing by small seedling beginnings growing into large fruitful networks. Great products, effective marketing and PR, along with hard work and the desire to succeed make this level of success possible.


However in 2013, the franchising bug was finally able to take a bite out of Starbucks. A report from the Wall Street Journal indicated that Starbucks was ending its long-standing resistance to franchising. Currently, Starbucks' franchising efforts are concentrated to Europe. At the end of November 2013, Starbucks had 45 franchise-owned locations in the United Kingdom with plans to open franchises in France in 2014.


However, as of September 2015, Starbucks does not accept franchise applications in the United States.

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