No, it's not a radio CEO, but it sure could be. It's Howard Schultz, the on-again-off-again CEO/creator of Starbucks. Returning to the helm of a suddenly struggling company in a more competitive, recession-scared world, Schultz has laid out an aggressive to new plan... to Wall Street and his thousands of stores.
It's about bringing back that original feeling that you had many years ago when you walked into a Starbucks - that your coffee was custom-brewed, and the barista knew your name. Schultz is also initiating a loyalty club component so that "regulars" (like me) can enjoy greater benefits. And overall, it's about a high-quality coffee experience, rather than the brew that McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts offers.
All of these innovations and improvements will cost money. They will take time. But that's the process that's required in the quest to re-imagine and improve the experience of walking into a Starbucks.
These are bold steps, but they've already attracted the attention of investors, customers, and the company's employees. Every industry goes through a downturn, a challenge, and at times, a redefinition of its purpose. Schultz may not have all the answers, but he's bringing back a sense of leadership and change to his company. He also realizes the showbiz aspect of the Starbucks experience. As investors and employees lined up as early as 6 a.m. for the company's stockholders' meeting, they were treated to a barbershop quartet and baristas serving free coffee. At the end of the day, Starbucks - like radio - is in the entertainment/experience business.
Radio could clearly learn some lessons from Schultz's efforts to resuscitate his business - both with customers and investors. It starts in the boardroom, but needs to ultimately change and electrify the customer contact point - Starbucks stores. Or in our case, our radio stations.