COSTA – Does it suffer from inconsistent/variable standards?

The Liverpool Echo has a story on its web site which got me thinking – see link above

As a regular user of COSTA across many of its cafes around the UK I have to say that, in my opinion, the standards can be variable in terms of cleaning and customer service. I’ve put this down to the franchise-type operation of the cafes whereby groups of them are owned by differing companies who buy into the COSTA brand, although I have also noticed differences between standards of their cafes that seem to under the same ownership. Clearly the local manager has a big say and a big responsibility to meet what I presume are common standards?

I wonder if COSTA use mystery shoppers to check out standards without the staff of the cafes even knowing they have been? If they don’t they should do. Now and again I get e-mails from COSTA asking me about my experience of a particular cafe in their chain that I have been to. I always respond but wonder if anything ever becomes of the comments made by customers?

Maybe COSTA suffers from the circular doors of companies in the retail trade who can’t recruit and retain staff? Certainly it is far from unusual to walk into a COSTA to see a new member of staff learning the trade. An ever changing workforce can’t be good for consistent standards.

I don’t go into McDonalds very often but when I have done I have gained the impression that they do adhere to a common and usually high standard. I say this as I think the franchise-type business model may be similar.

My feeling is that COSTA needs to either start to employ mystery shoppers, or if they already do then employ more of them. But more importantly their reports have to matter and be acted upon even if that means taking franchises away from partner owners who don’t meet corporate standards that all COSTA cafes should be meeting.

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