Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts

I give my granddaughters a ride to school three days each week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They get to my house too early to have already had breakfast, so it’s always fallen to me to get them fed in the morning. I realized early on that I’m far too lazy to prepare their breakfasts, so I buy them breakfast instead.

On Wednesday, we have a nice full breakfast seated at the counter at Bonnie’s Café, a popular local breakfast/lunch spot not unlike most of the diners you’ve probably been to. Our regular waitress Karen has our usuals memorized, as does the cook. It’s an experience I hope the girls never forget.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are drive-through days. On Tuesdays, we drive through Dunkin Donuts and on Thursdays we drive through Starbucks. In this post, I’m going to compare my Tuesday user experience to my Thursday user experience.

Both days start about the same. The three girls and I load into my Ram 1500, with 11-year-old Cali in the front. She gets the front because she’s the oldest, but she understands that comes with responsibility. Among other things, she’s responsible for ordering from the appropriate app and for food distribution once the order is received.

Anyhow, as soon as we’re in the truck, I hand Cali my phone with the appropriate app already running. She confirms what each person wants and places the order as we’re driving down the road.

App-wise, I have to believe both places are comparable. Cali’s a pretty tech-savvy kid and she’s never had any problem navigating either app – even when the Dunkin app was brand-new. One gripe about the Dunkin app though: It sometimes reports the wrong account balance, presumably my balance from prior to my last order, so I need to remember to refresh that each time.

As for their respective menus, I’m only going to consider food items here. The Starbucks favorite in our vehicle is the bacon-gouda sandwich, which not surprisingly consists of bacon, gouda and a square slab of scrambled egg white on some sort of ciabatta roll. I once asked if I could get a different type of bread. The answer was no, because all their sandwiches are premade.

At Dunkin, you’re able to customize your sandwich. Bacon, cheese and egg on a toasted bagel is the group favorite at Dunkin, but the girls get theirs with regular egg, while I get mine with egg that has minced veggies cooked in. This leads me to believe that the sandwiches are only partially premade, if at all.

Order pickup at Starbucks literally only takes a matter of seconds. I identify myself at the speaker and when I get to the window, a smiley millennial hands me my order. Done. There’s just one problem. Depending on traffic, we live 10-20 minutes from the Starbucks near the girls’ school. That means it’s not unusual for our hot food to be not so hot. This seems like an easy tech fix. The app already knows where I am and it knows how long it should take me to get to the store. So it seems to me that somewhere in that process, Starbucks should be able to account for that delay.

At Dunkin, it appears like they don’t put the order together until I get there. This is actually fine with me. Yes, I spend a couple of extra minutes at the window. And yes, that’s not as cool as being handed my order almost while my truck is still moving. But that also means that our hot food is always hot.

In the end, the girls like Dunkin food better and that’s what matters to me. As Cali commented to me about her Dunkin sandwich, “This tastes like something my dad would make me.” And btw, my son is damned good cook.

Are there any lessons for credit unions in all this? Perhaps.

Starbucks was founded in 1971 and generated $22B in revenue in 2017. On the other hand, Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 and generated only $829M in 2016. So Starbucks proves you can make a lot of money with a mediocre product and good marketing. Maybe that’s a lesson you don’t want to learn.

Look at your credit union from the member’s perspective. There’s simply no reason I should ever get a cold bacon-gouda sandwich from Starbucks. Yet, it happens all the time. One little technology tweak could fix that forever.

Finally, there’s something to be said for good, old-fashioned quality and attention to service. Before Dunkin opened near us, we went to Starbucks twice a week. Based on their love for Starbucks, I thought selling the girls on Dunkin would be tough. However, once they tasted those hot, delicious sandwiches, Starbucks became the also-ran.

Don’t be the also-ran.

John San Filippo

John San Filippo

John is the co-founder of OmniChannel Communications, Inc., a company that specializes in B2B marketing to community financial institutions. He started out in the savings and loan industry, but wisely ... Web: Details

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