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Starbucks for Startups (The Starbucks Open Door Policy)

With the new huge announcement of Starbucks that people can sit inside cafes without purchasing anything, one thought came to mind: startups! What more could you ask for when starting a company? There’s an open seating area, tables, free internet, and free electricity to charge your laptop. On top of that are the restrooms, the water, and the aroma of coffee.  And no worries, you can bring anyone else interested in your company. After all, there’s room for everyone. And you could even bring your own free coffee from home. It’s totally okay according to Starbucks.

Sure, I might be kidding. But actually, if you are desperate for a space to collaborate it’s an option. The company won’t remove you. They’ve said it themselves to the entire world. Let’s observe who this affects…

The Everyday Barista

More people to clean up after, and (likely) less tips. I worked in food service as a teenager. Cleaning the bathrooms can definitely be interesting (i.e. disgusting). This is under normal conditions, with our “no public restrooms” sign. Now, some people would simply come in and rush straight to the bathroom and rush out. Did I run after them to stop them and force them to buy something? No. But I’m certainly thankful there wasn’t an “open to the public lavatory” sign either. I understand there aren’t individual signs posted at Starbucks locations, but you get the idea. And if the store gets messy, who wants to go there? Or, who tips as much? Because I’m certainly less likely to give as good of a tip if the place is trashed. Why? Because even if the coffee is good, the surroundings are an undeniable part of the customer experience.

The Franchise Owners

This depends on the layout of the store and how much seating there is, but imagine how the costs of electrical could skyrocket. Tables can now be filled with people on their laptops all day every day. These same people don’t have to buy anything! And if the store owner does anything about it, he/she can be reprimanded by corporate. Maybe corporate will give the owners a break on their franchise royalty (*laugh*). But maybe nothing will happen. Maybe.


Really, this could go a few ways, but one is that people love the empathy and inclusion associated with this policy change. Those people then decide to buy more Starbucks because they love the company and/or the coffee. More business. Shareholders win. The other is that stores become a negative customer experience or too full of non-paying “guests” and they lose money. Shareholders lose. Or, something in the middle, and the shareholders don’t make a difference.

The Customer

How much will this really effect the average customer? Time will be yet to tell. Of course there is no gurantee that any changes will happen at all. It will be interesting to see if people accross social media update if a store is full etc. In theory, if you only order at a drive thru, or to go, then nothing will change. But if this has been your go-to coffee shop because of the atmosphere, will it change? I’ve studied in my share of coffee shops throughout my MBA. I buy at least one if not two drinks when I really need to get a project or paper done. You know what gets me to leave in between drinks? Other customers that annoy me. If I leave for any reason other than time, it’s because of an annoying customer. Usually this is the specific noise level of an individual.


I’m sure the company weighed its options regarding actual paying customers vs. wifi leechers, bored people, and panhandlers. But seriously, to openly say this? It seems….desparate and misguided at best. But it’s a move that clearly gained attention quickly. What do you think, will your local Starbucks change? Do you know any employees who are excited or upset by the news? Let me know!


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