Starbucks is king when it comes to the coffee and baked goods. Think about it, their green mermaid logo is everywhere. From small towns to large cities, sometimes on every corner! The appeal may stem from the cozy atmosphere they create, the unique drinks they come up with, or maybe how picture perfect their cups are for Instagram. Whatever it is, one thing that customers aren’t in love with is Starbucks’ slow drive thru time.
QSR Magazine compared the speed of service of Starbucks and other brands, and found that Starbucks has an average service speed of 4.44 minutes. Compare that to Dunkin Donuts’ 2.90 minutes and it’s clear they have some improvements to make. Other companies measured were similarly speedy, with McDonald’s averaging 3.38 minutes, and Chick-fil-A averaging 4.29.
Micheline Maynard, a Forbes contributor, noted that part of the challenge Starbucks has to overcome is the fact that around 14,000 locations began as solely drop in spots for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as their large menu selection with specialty and seasonal items that come and go. Not to mention their secret menu, and accommodating whatever customization the customer may ask for. All these can contribute to the slower service speed, but Starbucks is trying to find a solution. Maynard goes on to mention that Starbucks has aggressively shifted its focus onto their drive-thru by having 80% of new stores have a drive-thru, and some dedicated to that alone.
The drive-thru only stores will not have the seating area, no couches to lounge on or place to use the WiFi, instead focusing solely on speedy service.
When I used to travel for work frequently, I had the opportunity to visit one such location. At the time, it felt more like a misfortune, as I desperately needed a place to get some work done quickly and instead found myself in front of a small grey building and had to be informed by one of the baristas that this was not the Starbucks I was looking for. However, I do have to admit I noticed the drive thru was moving rather quickly.
Starbucks will hopefully see results that satisfy customers from this focus on speedy service, but to me, this shift to drive-thrus makes me think of Joe Pine’s time well spent vs time well saved model. Pine notes that companies can provide time well saved by offering a more efficient means of receiving services. Alternatively, companies can invest in creating atmospheres and experiences that make customers feel their time is well spent. I prefer the atmosphere at the sit in locations, but I can appreciate that some people just need their morning cup of joe to get their day started. Whichever side you’re on, chances are, there’ll be a Starbucks near you that offers what you’re looking for.
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