Viewpoint: We All Could Take a Lesson From Starbucks  

Gary Schnitz
Chair, Journal Management Board

Gary Schnitz photo

If you have ever been in your local Starbucks (short for Starbucks Coffee Company), you undoubtedly have noticed that these stores are very friendly and client-focused. Starbucks offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere for the often-hurried customer. Whether your own plans are to purchase one of those expensive almond/amaretto cappuccinos or simply grab a bran muffin, you are usually greeted by a friendly Starbucks associate, whose simple goal is to help you and get you on your way. I think this mantra "to help you and get you on your way" could be a guideline for us biocommunicators and most anyone today working in the client service industry.

These Starbucks stores have established themselves in large malls, in smaller suburban strip malls, in numerous urban storefronts, and recently in some larger grocery stores. The company has literally taken their business model directly to the people… their customers. They have effectively "satellited," multiplied, franchised, and established themselves with a quality "brand" among their client customers. Our own Journal of Biocommunication publication has similar business goals and aspirations, but obviously for now we're not as broad (or as profitable) in scope.

The Starbucks stores are pleasant and inviting, and they offer an opportunity to meet and network with friends and professional colleagues, who may pass by occasionally. More and more Starbucks stores are offering wireless online accessibility to the Internet. This may be a big metaphoric stretch, but to this JBC Board Chair phrases like "networking," "online," "customer-focused," "internet accessibility," and "professional colleagues" conjure up some of the core concepts behind the mission of our online Journal of Biocommunication.

In recent years, the Journal Management Board and Editors have "taken" the Journal to our professional colleagues (the association memberships). We are now online in every sense of the word, offering the web functionally for readers to directly email the JBC columnists and authors with questions and/or messages of support. This networking opportunity has given the JBC reader direct access to perhaps an unknown professional colleague with similar research interests.

The JBC has become more open and inviting to all, offering other bio-visual and academic groups outside of the JBC Consortium the opportunity to showcase and publish their own work. The JBC has expanded to include the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustration (AIMBI), and just like Starbucks, we continue to look for other expansion opportunities. The Journal of Biocommunication strives to promote inclusion, rather than exclusion, within our professions and within our associations. We are proud of how far we have come.

This JBC Viewpoint is not intended to be an unequivocal endorsement of Starbucks, but it offers an opportunity to look at a successful company's strategy for success, for corporate expansion, and quality name branding. It is my belief that our Journal, our institutional departments, and our businesses could gain insight from Starbucks' management style. A review of Starbucks' own mission statement provides some insight into their company's business success.

1. Included in their mission are management guidelines describing the company's intent to provide a work environment filled with respect and dignity for all.

2. They embrace diversity as being an essential business component.

3. They promote excellence in their product.

4. They strive to develop and maintain satisfied clients and customers.

5. They contribute positively to their communities and the environment.

6. They recognize that profitability is essential to continued success.

Yes, we all could take a lesson from Starbucks.


Gary Schnitz

Copyright 2007, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents for VOLUME 33, NUMBER 2