From the mailbag…

Lots of people email me.  Anyone can click on the “contact me” tab and send me an email.  I really do read all my email, though I don’t actually reply to every single one that I receive.  I wish I could write everyone a beautiful reply, but I get enough email that I don’t have quite that much time.

I have been thinking about doing a column – perhaps a bi-weekly feature – calling out a particular question in an email, or a particular comment.  Not sure if this will really work, but this week is the first week that I am giving it a try.

Once again, email me by clicking here.

So here’s the first of the “From the mailbag” emails:

Hi Melody, I’m a partner barista in district xx. I’d like to know what other stores are doing for barista recognition. Partners who are taking the on the job of barista recognition could share ideas and ways to recognize those who are on the front line each day. What are the possibilities?
Are there any partners who want to chime in the comments about the things that you do recognize partners?  I have to say that the things that come to my mind are the more obvious things like, “Partner of the Quarter” and such.  In previous episodes about Starbucks t-shirts, we saw that Starbucks used to do things like “Manager of the Quarter” t-shirts.  (I assume there is the same thing out there for other store-level employees.)  I think it is a great question.
If you readers think this is a bad idea for a regular column, please tell me!  I’m willing to gamble this could be an interesting regular column.  And please post in the comments, if you have any thoughts on partner recognition ideas.  The next “From the mailbag” column will be October 6, 2011.  Please email me now if you wish to submit a question to be posted on the blog.
(Edit:  This column will have both customer-focused ideas and partner-focused ideas.  Either one is fine.  I just happened to start out with something a little more partner-focused.)

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  • denise r

    Melody: I think the email idea ting is good. (your emailbag idea)

    Probably this won’t be popular (my opinion on this) but re: partner recognition, I think if that’s something that’s done (above and beyond what many of us, as cutomers, do every day) then it’s up to Sbux, totally. So, I guess this is a question, imo, mostly for partners. Remember the “barista recognition day” (or whatever…more than one) thread(s) on msi? I am very friendly and as generous as I can be, as a cutomer, with all the regular baristas that I come in contact with daily. It’s a good thing. (99% of the time) But I don’t see this idea warrants anything other than from other partners, and that it stays within the Corp.

    I tink this is not coming across the way I want it to, so will sign off and come back later.

  • denise r

    ughhhh….sorry all the typos.

  • purple1

    Melody – I love this idea because I think it would be neat to get a sense of what kind of questions and concerns you get in your emails. Please start this up. Re barista recognition- I remember when they did a barista of the month along with customer of the month at stores. I actually think on some level it motivated partners. With the reduced level of customer interaction, I think SB has to find a way to remotivate the partners so they can enjoy their jobs.

  • Hilary Davidson

    Partner Recognition! One of my favourite topics- so this caught my eye.
    Recognising your partners is such an important part to the Starbucks experience. Not only do we strive for the customer to have a “Third Place” experience in our stores, it is the same for partners!

    Here are some suggestions of things I’ve done in my time as a partner:
    – Partner of the month! Get your customers to do a silent ballot based on our World Class Customer Service vision
    – Store competitions! Based on targets or Store Action Plans, create a competiton. Based on the best results, that partner gets a little prize.
    – Instead of using Green Apron cards, I kept Post Its in my apron and would write nice things and put it on their arm :)

    Remember! We do have the tools so it’s not always needed to branch out. MUG Awards, Green Apron cards, pins… All of that counts! And actively communication is key.

    Seeing partners ask for help makes me smile.
    I hope this helps.

    Hilary Davidson
    Store manager, 4720

  • Melody

    @Hilary – I love the idea of a Post It note gently showing up on someone’s arm! All great ideas! Sorry that I don’t have time for a long reply to you – I am running out the door to work right now. Love your ideas.

  • elly

    the houghton store out in kirkland actually does a picture and words recognition thing for employee of the month *and* customer of the month. it’s kind of neat to see each time i walk in there :)

    we used to get mug pins and other little cool trinkets way back when i worked as a licensed partner (in 2000ish). and, when i worked bumbershoot (in the late 90s), we would get special shirts and aprons (i loved that apron, wish i’d kept it!).

    not sure what other thoughts i have on this, but if i come up with anything i will post another comment.

  • BCav

    Melody! Great idea on the [bi]weekly columns!

    Unfortunately I don’t have much for “Partner Appreciation/ Recognition” as my SM do not believe in that stuff (can you believe that???!?!??)

    So, I will tell you what I personally do for my co-workers!

    There are several partners and I who love to cook/bake, so when we accomplish major goals, or go “above and beyond” what is asked, we will bake goodies and fill out green apron or Thank You cards for the person/ people involved. We keep each other motivated! :)

  • Pencil to Paper

    I think this is a great idea! Can’t wait to read more of these. :)

    Also, I just posted a couple of pictures on the StarbucksMelody Facebook page of something I saw a Starbucks doing to recognize partners. Very cool! It was basically a board (“Green Apron Board”) where customers could leave notes (for example, one said something like, “You were great, I’m glad I got to meet you. Awesome customer service!”) for the baristas. I think there was also a ballot box for both customers and partners to vote for a partner of the month. I thought that was a really neat idea. :)

  • Michelle

    Melody, I like the idea of the mailbag!

    BCav – it’s a shame your SM doesn’t believe in that, and I think it’s great that you and other partners have made a point of recognizing on your own! It certainly can be something that lives even without SM participation, that’s the beauty of the Green Apron cards.

    We have a Partner of the Quarter in my store. Partners nominate who they’d like to see and why, and then the management team decides on the winner from the nominees. We also give out lots of Green Apron cards and MUG awards.

    I love the recognition we get from customers too! Our customers leave tips but we also have customers who bring us in treats, and give gifts on birthdays, Christmas, etc. Recently a regular customer’s car broke down in our drive thru. My ASM went and pushed the car out of the DT and then gave her a boost so that she was able to get her car going to get to the garage…she wrote both the store and him a lovely notes of thanks. When I was hit by a car earlier this year one of my regulars called me at home (I am listed in the phone book – my friends all wanted to know how she got my phone number) to make sure I was ok and didn’t need anything! It’s just amazing how awesome our customers are :)

  • Lindsay

    My store’s “back of house” area is a HUGE basement. It’s much more space than we need, and it’s divided into two rooms. We’ve consolidated all our shelving into one room, and I’m actually turning the other into a break room for my team. The partners will vote on what color we’ll paint the walls. We’ll have a cubby for every partner along the wall, a huge green apron board, a couch, a big table for future store meetings… I’m even bringing in samples for the new floor we’re laying down over the concrete so they can choose for themselves. My partners are thrilled I’m doing this for them—it’s the best way I can show my entire team how much I appreciate them. I strive to individually recognize all my partners as much as I can. I wanted to do something to reward them as a group, and this definitely did the trick. They can’t wait until it’s finished.

    – Lindsay, A store manager in the NY metro area

  • Graefyl

    Hi Melody, where I live in the UK there is no Starbucks. I usually get my coffee from a local supermarket. I mix 2 bags of House Blend with one Columbian (the only ones available) and that’s my standard coffee brewed at home.

    When I’m out and about I normally get a cup at SB’s though.


  • Melody

    @Lindsay – That is really cool that you have that much space. You sound like a great store manager. It is not a little thing to have so much initiative to take care of your partners. There haven’t been too many replies in this thread, and I think partners need to hear how they are appreciated.

  • purple1

    Lindsay where in the NY metro area is your store? I didn’t realize that there would be so much space as Melody indicated in this area? Just curious- did your DM have to approve this or the landlord?

  • purple1

    My comments relate to this blog piece and in a way to the comments of yesterday re the partners acknowledging my birthday. I have seen partners recognizing each other’s birthdays in the store by saying happy birthday with a sign or in conversation. I think that this also helps morale between partners. It is sort of funny though that the partners can acknowledge each other’s birthdays but a customer’s birthday is another matter. I too like the suggestion of a birthday cup. Neat idea. And even besides this experience, I had a great birthday.

  • R1

    I came from a store where Green Apron cards were handed out regularly. When we had a full set we traded them in for a Green Apron pin. I had a hat full of them. There was so much focus on them that in one of my reviews I lost points for not handing out enough of them. They lost some of the “genuine” which was an important Green Card behavior when there was constant pressure to hand them out. I had always recognized and encouraged partners verbally on a day by day basis. When I transferred to a new store they didn’t even have the cards and I was the only barista there with pins. I got lots of customer comments about them and I would always say that we all earned them in spirit but that I was the self-designated “pin nerd” for our store. I think that with the increased pressure on partners over the past few years it is crucial that we do everything we can to lift and support each other. A great attitude, cooperative spirit and showing lots of appreciation for a job well done, whether it be delivered verbally, by Post-It, a Green Apron card or cookies is just fine with me. It’s more of a general work environment than a particular action and it seems to be contagious if just one person, SM or barista, can show up day after day with that kind of attitude.

  • Lindsay

    @purple1- I’m in Area 75 on Long Island. My DM is a phenomenal guy. I was an ASM in 2 other stores in his district before he gave me my permanent placement as an SM over the summer. He’s very used to walking into my store and seeing ridiculous, dramatic changes I’ve made to increase efficiency or just make things prettier. He just shakes his head and has learned to not ask questions and just let me do my thing. :) I got approval from my landlord to lay down a new floor over the concrete in the basement room. We just had a full scale renovation last month so he really wasn’t phased much.

    The room’s almost done, and we’ve started a little partner contest of sorts to leverage our clover sales. If my partners meet our clover goals, they win little things for the room each week—like a microwave, throw pillows, a “snack box” with microwave popcorn and stuff… It’s been a fun project for the whole store.

  • GAStarbucksGirl

    I like the mailbag idea @Melody :) and Partner recognition is near and dear to my heart. I’m a firm believer in ‘keep the Partner happy and they’ll keep the customer happy’.

    @Lindsay sounds like you’re a well deserving SM and your DM sounds like he could teach a lot of DMs a thing or two!

    At my store we have a Barista Board for customers to view. It has a photo of each Partner and a little bio about them. We also have a bell that customers can ring when they’ve received exceptional service. We use MUG Awards and Green Apron Cards and pins. We have a Partner that is an excellent baker- he bakes birthday cakes for Partners when it’s their birthday.

    I still though wish the company, SMs, and DMs did more to recognize Partners for outstanding achievement. Maybe they do in some districts.

  • denise r

    @GAStarbucksGirl: I LOVE the idea of the bell!

    re: the bday cake-baking for each other as partners: I think this (or something similar) is done within many jobs, but it’s between the employees who work there…which is kind of what I always come back to about any special “barista appreciation” etc.
    I do it every day in my own way. Beyond that, mostly I think it’s up to Sbux, or the corp. one works for, or with.

  • purple1

    I too like the idea of the bell for exceptional service, but one question. When the bell is rung by a customer do they announce which barista gave the exceptional service?

  • kitenarie

    There are so many fun ideas on here! My store is tragically boring in comparison. We have a green apron that someone sewed up with little pockets for holding our green apron cards, but we hardly give them out. Our new SM is encouraging us to do it, so hopefully we’ll all start to do it a little more frequently.

    I LOVE the idea of a barista board.

  • Melody

    @Kitenarie – Maybe you can take some of these ideas back to your store. I was at a local market today (the Fremont Market) and I saw some hand-crafted type small note cards for the “office” which sort of looked like an office equivalent of green apron cards. I definitely thought about this blog article. Though on the whole, I have to say the “partner appreciation” didn’t turn out to be as hot of a topic as I thought it would be. I love the topic. I want great baristas to stay, and there should be some extra kind of appreciation that comes from the SSC, or customers too?

  • Raquel Dickson

    It is sort of funny though that the partners can acknowledge each other’s birthdays but a customer’s birthday is another matter. One of my favourite topics- so this caught my eye. Very cool! MUG Awards, Green Apron cards, pins… All of that counts!

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