Aramark Office Coffee & Water Services

Have you ever wondered what makes a company truly successful? Is it the quality of their products, the prime location of their stores, or the speed of their service? Surprisingly, it’s none of these factors that make the biggest difference. In fact, the key to success lies in how a company recruits, manages, and motivates its employees.

I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand during a trip to Seattle with a team of executives from Aramark Corporation, a leading food service company. At the time, Aramark was a licensee of Starbucks, operating 75 Starbucks stores on college campuses.

We were at risk of losing our license due to the lack of customer experience we were delivering. In a last-ditch effort to save the relationship, Starbucks invited us to learn from their exceptional approach. Little did we know that the most significant revelation would come from their employee management practices.

Starbucks introduced us to “The Little Green Apron Book,” a small pocket-sized guide that outlined five essential ways of being. These were not just principles for customer interactions but also for how employees treated each other. The book emphasized values such as being welcoming, genuine, considerate, and knowledgeable.

In addition to the book, they provided employees with business-sized cards, each with a description of one of the ways of being. These cards were used as a way for employees to catch each other in the act of demonstrating these values. Whether it was picking up a shift for a colleague, offering words of encouragement, or remembering a customer by name, employees would present these cards to one another as a form of recognition and appreciation.

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These cards were not just tokens of acknowledgment; they were tangible evidence of the culture that Starbucks fostered daily. At the end of each day, these cards were collected and placed in pockets in the back room. At the end of the month, the cards were sent to the district office, where they were transformed into stories that celebrated and encouraged the desired behavior. These stories were then shared across the organization to reinforce the values and inspire others.

One particular story that stuck with us was about a regular customer named Pete. Pete would visit a Starbucks on the West Coast a few times a week, enjoying his coffee and reading the paper in the corner. He had become an integral part of the Starbucks community, with everyone welcoming him when he arrived.

However, after a couple of weeks of Pete’s absence, the employees started to worry. They asked each other if anyone had seen Pete lately. Just as they were beginning to wonder where he had gone, a young woman walked into the store and inquired if they knew a customer named Pete.

As it turned out, Pete had passed away due to a heart attack a few weeks prior. In his apartment, his daughter discovered bags filled with Starbucks cups, each with heartfelt messages like “have a nice day” and “hope you feel better.” It became clear that these small gestures meant the world to Pete, and he couldn’t bear to throw them away.

Moved by her discovery, Pete’s daughter visited the Starbucks to express her gratitude for the impact the employees had made on her father’s life. This heartwarming story reminded us of the true essence of running a business – the power of making a lasting difference in the lives of customers and employees.

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Instead of solely focusing on data and content, we should prioritize people and stories. It is these meaningful connections that cultivate loyalty and drive growth. By creating an environment that values warmth and competence, companies can foster a culture that inspires employees to go above and beyond.

At Marmalade Cafe, we understand the importance of creating lasting impact. We strive to emulate the employee management practices that made Starbucks so successful. By focusing on both our customers and our employees, we aim to make a real difference in their lives.

Join us on this journey by visiting Marmalade Cafe. Experience the warmth and competence that defines our brand, and let us make a lasting impact on your dining experience.

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