1. Slower drink preparation
With slower store expansion, Starbucks has been looking inward, focusing on how it can fine-tune its operations and brew up a better customer experience. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported on the company's latest efforts, which will limit to two the number of drinks a barista can work on at the same time. The company also now requires milk to be steamed for each drink -- no more sharing a pitcher of milk across multiple lattes. The company believes these changes will improve the quality and consistency of its drinks and reduce the number of errors baristas make when filling an order, without increasing wait times. Baristas quoted in the Journal aren't so sure, believing the changes will increase drink prep time and result in longer lines.
2. Slower store expansion
But maybe slower can be better, if it means a better quality drink more consistently delivered, and maybe that holds true for Starbucks as a company, too. The transition from its 2007 pace to today's was not painless. In 2008 and 2009, the company shuttered stores and laid off employees, and its fiscal 2008 earnings plummeted by more than 50%. Today, the company is back on track, generating $1.36 billion in free cash flow over the last 12 months, and serving up a 2% dividend.
3. Higher-quality offerings
Following rapid store expansion in the 1990s through early 2000s, Starbucks' coffee competitor, McDonald's
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