15 Mar

Dietary concerns for Nuts, Gluten, Kosher and Halal are obvious to Starbucks store and District Managers engaging on a daily basis with customers and store visitors.

What is obvious to customers is the desire for stores to maintain clientele. What is obvious to store managers is to increase clientele. A conversation that goes on at store level does not reflect Starbucks policy. It is an international chain with an interest to accomadate Client specialty needs, the disconnect, as with many ‘too large to hear’ entities is Solutions For Resolution come from Marketing consultants or team members, more often than not, are not part of the Constituencies, Customer groups, with Specialty Diet needs.

Starbucks team members are told what to do. Team Members direct customers to fill in suggestion cards. Pretty much, the conversation to Corporate stops there when a Customer explains the reality of Corporate steps to adress the Dietary Need. A District Manager says, ‘I cant make these changes.’

They cant. Stores can employ Mystery Shoppers who will unannounced stop in at a store to make sure rules are being followed. Managers from other stores stop in a competitors. So not having the Pops in the right place and the muffins, cake slices aligned as deemed by Corporate, can come at the cost of a Team Member’s job.

Recently, adressing Specialty Diet Need food staging observances were made that, in the matter of Kosher/Halal Muffins in the display case, the kosher muffins were right under the Bacon-Egg-Muffin perched on a cake stand plate. To the Kosher/Halal client, their muffin cannot be eaten, moreso, since the Team Member explained the same tongs used to place the muffin on its porous tray was the tongs used to place the Bacon-Egg-Muffin on its pedestal stand violating the sanctity of the Kosher/Halal prepared Muffin and/or Nut/Gluten free product.

The ensuing conversation considered the option of Team Members wearing and changing gloves. The District Manager was quite honest to acknowledge, as wonderful as her Team Members are, they are people. Sometimes people dont ‘get’ others needs, and will ‘slip’, voluntarily or involuntarily so there is no guarantee a Tongs touching a Nutted product wont then touch a ‘nut free’ product. Or that the porous tray the Kosher/Halal Muffin is sitting on did not wash in hot water in the dishwasher with the Bacon-Egg-Muffin, too, which would then be problematic for this Community’s Specialty Diet needs.

The conversation was enlightening in that a dedicated Starbucks customer with Kosher/Halal needs learned for the very first time that other products- shortbread cookies, and other packaged goods staged near the register for Point-Of-Purchase were also kosher raising the question why doesnt Starbucks stage the Kosher/Halal goods together, marked accordingly to bump up sales to a Customer Audience who might not otherwise pick up the goods to read the packaging.

A pro-active Store Manager works with her Specialty Diet needs clients, letting them order their packed Specialty Muffins in advance. The Specialty Muffins are 4 packed. The Customer must buy all four. The Store Manager allows Customers wanting the Starbucks in house Coffee & Read experience to pre-order their Muffin which will not be removed from the packaging until done so by the customer, able to see and read the Kosher/Halal symbol on the Nutrition tab that sealed the container.

There is a One-Size-Fits-All solution. It may come with a price but at the cost of compromising one’s Faith or risking death from Allergen, is the price too much. It is already a practice within the Cupcake industry- delivering each Muffin in its own packaging, removing the need to break the package seal, removing the need for use of tongs or gloves to touch the Specialty Needs Muffin or placement of the Specialty Needs Muffin on a porous plate that has remnants of Gluten, Nuts or even Bacon-Egg-Muffins, something to keep in mind as Starbucks is sussing out local factories to bake their goods- Kosher/Halal, Gluten and Nut free, et al

Sometimes the Solution to Resolution is as simple as that. The cost? Well, would love all the funds paid to Consultants who failed to do Dollar-Cross-The-Counter Research. Short of that? You are welcome, Starbucks. Thank you’s are always appreciated….


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