Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

Starbucks Takes a Unique Route to Greener Stores

By Daniel B. Kline - Jul 6, 2019 at 8:01PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The company has turned to its employees for help.

Starbucks ( SBUX -0.16% ) wants to make its stores greener. That's a smart move that fits the company's marketing message and consumer perception.

To accomplish that goal, the company has decided to turn to its employees for help. Instead of letting management or consultants come up with the ideas, the chain has brought employees to its Tryer Center innovation lab to compete in a reality show-style competition.

Five teams presented ideas after being selected from an initial group of pitches sent via digital methods. The idea to source ideas from workers came from Suzanne Tedrow, Starbucks' program manager for energy and sustainability.

A person presents a project at Starbucks' Tryer Center

Starbucks held a reality-show-style competition. Image source: Starbucks.

What were the ideas?

The Greener Stores Innovation Challenge does not have to have one winner. Each idea was voted on by a panel of judges with the power to fund trials for any or all of them. The ideas pitched included:

  • Adding solar panels to the roofs of stores
  • An app that uses geolocation to help customers know what can be recycled or composted in the market they are in 
  • Compacting trash in stores
  • Moving to paperless store operation
  • A reusable cup program where customers put down a deposit on a reusable cup that they get back when it's returned

The five teams were selected from 135 entries and flown to the Tryer Center in Seattle. Teams were given help to hone their proposals into a five-minute presentation.

Every one of the ideas presented was given a green light to move into a trial phase. That means that each program will be tested at a handful of stores to see what works and what doesn't.

The competition "is an illustration of a cultural shift – and it's happening in real time," said Starbucks' senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact in a press release. "We're moving at a greater speed of urgency to resolve pain points for partners. Partners are on the front lines of doing the day to day work. This event at Tryer is a moment of listening intensely and then acting with urgency. It's having the partners in the store coach and teach us." 

Why is this good for shareholders?

The Tryer Center was designed to get projects from idea to implementation in under 100 days. Since its recent inception, employee involvement has been a big part of that process.

CEO Kevin Johnson has led this initiative, which has included bringing in-store workers into the center for part of their work week. That allows the company to source ideas from people who experience what it's like to actually work in a café. Those people should have greater insight into the pain points for employees and customers, allowing the chain to focus its efforts.

This contest takes line worker involvement even further. It gave regular employees a real chance to be heard and make a difference. That should not only result in some good ideas getting implemented but also improve employee morale.

More companies should listen to their employees -- the people directly serving customers. Starbucks has shown a commitment to doing that, and this contest takes further in a smart way.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Starbucks Corporation Stock Quote
Starbucks Corporation
SBUX
$111.24 (-0.16%) $0.18

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
624%
 
S&P 500 Returns
141%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 12/04/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.