An Unlikely Pairing

There is a disconnect at the brand and retail level. A loss of passion overtaken by the daily grind.  


Entrepreneurs have a vision of how to make an experience better or how to make the world better. This starts with an idea or an experience whether positive or negative that births a better shoe, a new performance sock, or how we shop at our local meat market, or even how to inspire leaders to get results.    


Take Starbucks.  


Is anyone curious about the olive oil that has appeared in Starbucks across the country? I am behind the 8 ball on this I know but my first experience was when I was traveling to Virginia recently. I needed coffee so I stopped. It was a fairly new Starbucks that had misplaced containers of olive oil. It evoked enough curiosity for me to buy a bottle but no connection to the why.


Fast forward to yesterday, I needed beans for the camper and of course, a Starbucks was within riding distance so I stopped in. This time a beautiful display of olive oil with a story next to it. I grabbed another container and checked out. Greg, the staff member, was so excited saying, “Oh do you know about the olive oil?”  My reply was “No, but I would love to learn.” He said, “Well I cook with it, but it is also used in coffee, but I haven’t tried it.” I give him an A+ for effort. Still didn’t have the full story, but the engagement was there.  


Not his fault.


Your staff is bought into a vision, undervalued, and not trained on what matters to their daily job. And oftentimes there is little to no process with the expectation to know how to do the job. The disconnect here is that your staff has probably NEVER experienced Italy, first class, or even a perfect-cut piece of meat.  OR even understand WHY it is important because your staff is surviving. Thinking about going overseas is not something your brain can comprehend when you are working to pay your mortgage. 


When you go to the Starbucks website you find out the story behind the olive oil. It is VERY inspiring. All the words that are used to describe the experience are like you are in Italy. You can visualize yourself. Howard Schultz had an epiphany with olive oil and espresso which he brought back to the States for all of us to experience in our everyday lives.  


And yet it is lost because the experience hasn’t been translated into the staff's DNA. Think about it. When was the first time that an experience took your breath away? Where were you? What was it to cause you to be in the moment? This has to be a part of the conversation because your staff hasn’t had ALL the experiences you have had.


Again, whose responsibility is it to own the vision and the translation to the frontline staff who are at best living paycheck to paycheck and in survival mode?


Is it the brand Partanna? Do they care after they have been sold into ALL the Starbucks? Does their story matter after they have made their money?


Or is it Starbucks? Do they care after the rollout and the training is done? “Well we trained them, they should know what to do.” I remember when the rollout happened. Rollouts are fun and a lot of money goes into them. And yet what happens after the rollout of a new product? The day-to-day happens. What if Greg after finding out I wanted to learn about the olive oil made me an espresso with the olive oil all the while telling me about the story of the two ingredients combined? What would my experience have been? What nugget would I have learned?  


It is not your Store Manager. Your store manager is only as good as the empowerment you provide through processes and procedures. 


What is happening is worse than blaming it is dishonoring. When we point the finger at anyone or anything we create a disconnection that fosters chaos rather than harmony. We are not accountable for ourselves. Once we can take responsibility for ourselves then we can understand others and ultimately learn how to work together in harmony.


Until we can unpack this we will not be able to rise and create the experiences we are all wanting to have in this world.  


There is a way to resolve all of this, by coming together and having a dialog. We have to rebuild trust.  Showing up and talking without egos in a safe environment will allow the break throughs to happen. We invite you to this new phase of retail that is beginning.  

Please email [email protected] if you are ready to be responsible and take ownership in the reawakening of retail.


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