Are Starbucks masters of Space Planning?

16th January 2017

So I was sitting in the departure lounge at Dublin Airport waiting for the last flight of the day back home.

Things were quiet and retailers were busy pulling down the shutters, apart from Starbucks, whose staff seemed to be intent on working through the night supplying much needed caffeine boosts to their waiting public.

For a guy who spends his time designing space, it was interesting to see what was going, and I remember thinking that the good folk at Starbucks had clearly thought very carefully about how they use their footprint to best effect.

Critically in this kind of location, high levels of efficiency are needed, in order to keep the queues of waiting customers to a minimum and deliver those essential lattes and muffins with as little delay as possible. The footprint has to be just right.

But then, there’s the cost, as a businessman I know about the need to keep costs down so consider an airport concession, and imagine how expensive it is just to occupy a relatively small footprint, but the rewards are potentially huge too, think captive audience, think love of coffee, and think limited opportunities to buy in departures.

So there’s the challenge, keep the footprint small to protect profits, but large enough that its operationally sound.

Space Planning is all about getting the most from the footprint available. When we consider the Starbucks model, it’s more a case of micro management in action, not only do the machines and shelves have to be in the right spot, but also what occupies every shelf is critical to efficient workflow and business success.

You see this model aims for as little movement by the barista as possible, too much walking and squeezing by colleagues is where inefficiency creeps in, valuable time wasted and delays in getting that coffee and cake served to its waiting public.

Customers don’t give a second thought to the layout or efficiency of the space (unless you just happen to be a space planner) just as long as the goods arrive without delay.
Making sure everything is given the right space in the right place is one of the keys to creating a really well organised space that delivers the goods to the customer and profits to the business.

But just one other thing … the best designed spaces are only ever as good as the people you have working in them. These days Organisations must work really hard to make sure the training of their people is very high on the agenda, to ensure the front line staff deliver the right customer experience every time.

Well designed and organised space provides the platform for the staff to deliver, but is only part of the solution :-)

Right I’m off for a Frappuccino…..