With more than 23,000 locations in almost 70 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…
Where It All Began
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 passion for the business 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. (Schultz announced in early December 2016 plans to step down from his CEO post and concentrate on the company's new premium brand, Starbucks Reserve.)
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”.
Is Starbucks a coffee franchise?
For decades Starbucks has resisted the temptation to franchise, growing its network through licensed partnerships instead.
In his book, released in 1997, Howard Schultz noted his personal aversion to franchising saying, "To me, franchisees are middlemen who would stand between us and our customer." He's gone on to reiterate that feeling in subsequent interviews over the years, maintaining that he prefers as much control over his stores as possible.
However, Starbucks isn't a complete stranger to franchising. It broke its no franchising mantra a few years ago in Europe, where it now has franchises in the U.K. and France. The company also runs a subsidiary, Seattle's Best Coffee, which does franchise. Starbucks acquired Seattle's Best Coffee in 2003.
Although it isn't a franchise, Starbucks’ underlying principles lend 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.
To find coffee businesses that are franchising, check out our full listing of coffee franchise and business opportunities.