I recently read Howard Schultz’ book “Onward” about the fantastic turnaround he made as the new CEO of Starbucks. As you may know, he semi-retired, but when the company got into trouble he returned as CEO and made a remarkable turnaround.
It seems that Starbucks had expanded too fast. It was having quality problems and was losing customers. Howard actually closed all the stores for one day to retrain all his employees. I found his coffee business is so similar to the hotel business. It’s really all about people serving people. I think that 90 percent of our associates in our hotels have at least one customer contact every day and some will have over 100 contacts each.
In his book, Howard Schultz says, “Tell our associates what we need to do and why.” Our core philosophy is to take care of our associates so they will take care of the guests. A major part of caring for our people is training and teaching them how to do their job. We’re sort of like a big university with many different courses and classes.
Starbucks is concerned about every detail and Howard says, “Every little act matters.” I've always tried to focus on the details – no detail is really too small. Executing even the smallest detail to perfection is the difference between a great guest experience and a failure. Howard says, “A store manager’s job is not to oversee millions of transactions a week, but one transaction millions of times a week.”
At Marriott, we simply say that we sweat the details.
I really loved Howard’s quote, “Passion for the future, respect for the past.” Likewise, at Marriott we are very proud of our humble roots as a root beer stand, but very passionate about the future as we just signed hotel number one hundred in China.
Incidentally, Starbucks has been a great partner for Marriott for many years. We feature their coffees in hundreds and hundreds of our hotels around the world.
I learned a lot from Howard Schultz’ book “Onward.” We would do well at Marriott by continuing to emulate his success.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.