Starbucks Suffering From A Fatal "Virus"?


Like much of the economy, Starbucksisn't completely healthy. But PR executive Michael Levine, author of "Broken Windows, Broken Business," goes so far as to suggest the company has come down with a potentially fatal "virus."

Levine describes "Symptoms of a Broken Windows Virus":

1) The patient (your business) begins to feel sluggish and tired (revenues decline almost imperceptibly at first).

2) The patient complains of localized pain (certain departments seem to experience inexplicable slowdowns, due to employee indifference as a learned behavior).

3) Family members (other employees) exhibit symptoms (one employee sees another slacking off and emulates that behavior).

4) Nonfamily members ask about the patient’s health (customers notice the poor customer service and complain).

5) Diagnosis is difficult to pinpoint (management doesn’t notice the problem and the window is not fixed-the employee is not reprimanded or let go because of poor performance).

6) Patient’s condition declines more rapidly (as reputation of bad service grows, sales decline and customers find alternative sources for product or services offered by the company).

7) Extraordinary measures are implemented (no longer able to deny a problem, management closes retail outlets, lays off a percentage of the workforce, and asks creditors for more time to repay debts).

8) Patient is put on life support (company files for Chapter 11 protection).

9) Patient dies (company goes out of business).

In Starbucks defense, I've always felt the employees were pretty good about customer service. It's the coffee, the prices, and all the stuff crowding the stores which may be more accurate "symptoms" of what's gone wrong.

Shareholders certainly hope the current rash of store closings and the slowdown in expansion will save the company from going on latte-drip life support!

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