Retail in a Changing World – the Starbucks Experience

Starbucks pic
Starbucks
Image: forbes.com

John B. Richards has engaged with various companies where he significantly contributed to their growth and success. At Starbucks Coffee Company, John B. Richards was president of retail in North America then promoted to president of North American operations. He presided over stunning sales growth from $400 million to $2.5 billion on the back of rapid store expansion, which peaked with a new store opening every 18 hours.

Sharing his Starbucks experience, Mr. Richards notes that retail has been coming under threat from technology, namely in the form of the Internet and e-commerce. Yet Starbucks retails a very traditional product, coffee, and has managed to grow and prosper. The company focuses on several service principals, including choosing locations that are both convenient and high traffic, a consideration often overlooked by entrepreneurs.

The retail beverage company also focuses on transaction efficiency and speed as time has become a more precious commodity. The Starbucks Card cut initial transaction time, as swiping it was quicker than making purchases with cash.

Lastly, the company embraced technology, focusing on leveraging the Internet to improve service and create brand loyalty. It introduced online ordering and launched a loyalty program to reward patronage. Thus, in a technology dominated world, there can still be success in retail by focusing primarily on service principles.

Advertisements

The Four Seasons Model of Customer Service

Four Seasons Model pic
Four Seasons Model
Image: fourseasons.com

Drawing upon extensive experience in the retail and service industries, John B. Richards provides strategic direction that leads to business expansion. For 10 years, John B. Richards served as Executive Vice President of Four Seasons Hotels, helping build the company from eight to 42 properties during his tenure.

Part of the reason for the global success of Four Seasons is its service culture, which has four elements:

1. Who we are. Four Seasons defines itself as a leading entity in the hospitality industry that focuses on the quality of its service and locations. In doing so, the company satisfies the needs of its customers and positions itself as a leading hospitality brand.

2. What we believe. A belief that the company’s people are its most important asset is critical at Four Seasons. All employees have a sense of pride in everything they do, and they carry themselves with dignity as they work together to achieve the company’s larger aims.

3. How We Succeed. At Four Seasons, success is defined as achieving a reasonable profit while providing benefits to guests, employees, and the hotel owners.

4. How we behave. Operating on the idea of “do unto others as you have would have them do unto you,” Four Seasons treats guests, employees, and business partners with respect and a professional attitude.

Advice for Scaling a Service Business

Scaling a Service Business pic
Scaling a Service Business
Image: forbes.com

John B. Richards is an accomplished business executive who has served in senior management and executive roles for a number of service businesses, including Starbucks Coffee Company. During his tenure at Starbucks, John B. Richards grew annual store openings from 285 to 410, first as the company’s president, retail North America and later as the president of Starbuck’s North American operations. Scaling a service business is a difficult task so here is some basic advice.

1. Sell one thing many times. A service business’ model is based on selling one, or a limited number, of products multiple times to the same customers. As such, companies must provide a service that fosters brand loyalty and must consider how to sell a single product in a variety of ways.

2. Finding the right people. As a service business manager, you likely have core competencies, such as sales ability. However, the demands of operating the business will often mean that you only put a small amount of your time into that core competency. As such, finding the right people who can commit 100 percent of their time to specific areas of the business facilitates growth. Create teams based on the core facets of the business and ensure the members of those teams understand their objectives and receive the tools needed to focus their efforts on driving their departments forward.

What to Include in a Loyalty Program

Loyalty Program pic
Loyalty Program
Image: entrepreneur.com

A multi-industry executive with experience across the United States, John B. Richards is the former chief executive officer of the Joint Corp., a chiropractic network headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. At several points in his career, John B. Richards helped drive business growth and brand loyalty via loyalty programs.

In marketing circles, loyalty programs are one of the most commonly used strategies for building a regular customer base and attracting new customers. Customers join loyalty programs because they want to establish a relationship with the company in question, so long as there is additional value beyond a single transaction. As such, loyalty programs must provide access to new products and service offerings. Loyalty programs may also provide incentives for members to engage with new offerings.

Convenience also plays an important role in customer loyalty programs. Companies can improve convenience by offering services such as online payment and express pickup, which saves customers time and creates an overall positive experience.