What should Starbucks have done?

What should have happened at Starbucks?

The other day two guys were arrested for Waiting While Black at a Starbucks. There is so much wrong about this story that my head would burst if we tried to break it all down. Let’s instead focus on what could have been done.

There is no way on earth that this is the first time someone sat in a Starbucks for a while without buying anything. Why was there not a process in place to deal with that? Starbucks has a process for everything else under the sun in the Starbucks’ realm. People wait for friends in Starbucks all the time. I go to a Starbucks to do work stuff or have informal meetings many times a week. Sometimes I sit in one before an appointment. These things are what a coffee shops are made for.

A coffee shop is in the hospitality business. Hospitality sells coffee. Hospitality keeps people coming back. So how would a hospitality business deal with people sitting in their place of business who have not yet purchased something? Maybe show some hospitality?

I believe the business goals of a coffee shop are simple. Make people feel welcomed and sell them stuff. So what processes could you build that would deal with people who sit and do not buy?

How about making friends and making the person feel welcomed, so that person might buy something later or buy something next time?

Simple rule: A person sits without buying for 20 minutes, a manager goes over and introduces himself or herself and visits about the weather or tells a story about the latest seasonal coffee. Five minutes spent = person who felt welcomed.

What else could you do with such a person? Bring over some samples to try.

Simple rule: a person sits without buying for 20 minutes. Manager cuts up a pastry into little pieces and then goes around to all the people sitting in the shop, including the person who has yet to buy, and offers a taste. “Hi, have you tried our new glazed donuts?” Five minutes and fifty cents spent = many people feel welcomed.

If the rule was this: “For using the “people who sit without buying for more than 20 minutes rule”, do the welcoming chat five times for every time you do the free sampling.“ it would be intermittent enough that people would not sit around a Starbucks without buying something just to get a free treat.

Why did it take me to come up with this ridiculously simple plan? How is it that this is not already a well established standard operating procedure? How difficult is it to run a hospitality business with some hospitality?