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Starbucks, And All Its Combinations


Do you know how many different possible combinations there are to Starbucks drinks? If you look on Starbucks’ website, you’ll learn that there are 87,000 possible permutations.

Now, Starbucks may not be the world’s best coffee, but it’s pretty good. And it’s pretty consistent. If you look at the side of a Starbucks cup, each one of them has six squares on the label. Howard Schultz says Starbucks’ entire business plan is on the side of that cup. Each one of those squares is a differentiating component of how the coffee is made.

An employee scribbles on the side of the cup and passes it along to the person who’s making the drink. They don’t make eye contact, they don’t look at each other and they don’t even talk. Using the systems on the side of the cup, they’re able to accurately and efficiently communicate which one of the 87,000 possible combinations they’re serving.

In downtown Kansas City, they have one of the busiest Starbucks in North America. It’s ridiculous. When you pull up you can’t help but think it’s absurd because of how many people are waiting to turn into the drive-through.

I just had to learn how things worked, so I asked an employee what their busiest day is and what it’s like. He responded, “Oh, Thursdays by a long shot. Sometimes we see 350 customers an hour.”

Think about this: 87,000 different combinations, 350 customers in an hour and we can’t even get our health history forms in the right place.

I don’t want you to see that many patients in an hour. But these Starbucks employees don’t even look stressed; they’re going  boom, boom, boom  and cranking out orders. They don’t look stressed because they have the systems and training in place to make the volume work while still providing quality.

Put  that  in your half-caf soy macchiato.


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