Fresh Baked Customer Experiences – Lessons from Panera!


Share on LinkedIn

Right after my Starbucks Experience book began to gain traction in 2006, I received a call from a representative of Panera Bread.  

Upon visiting Panera’s corporate office in Massachusetts, I saw a leadership team poised to achieve breakthrough success.

From the outset, Panera understood customer experience design and execution.  They also prioritized the importance of fastidious attention to detail and enriched sensory engagement!  So here’s a mini case study and a few ideas to help you make more dough (sorry I should have resisted) even in lean times:

But why learn from Panera?

Since the beginning of the U.S. recession in late 2007, Panera boosted revenue 24 percent and added 191 café-bakeries to its 1,421-unit chain.  During that time, Panera also increased its workforce by 20 percent and hired an additional 4,661 extra workers. (Someone must have forgot to tell Panera about the recession!)

While most restaurants showed declining profits Panera bucked the trend. Their sales numbers and associated stock values reflect an unrelenting commitment to service excellence.  Panera’s Executive Chairman and founder, Ronald Shaich, was interviewed recently by Ben Steverman for and here are just a few hard-hitting insights from that interview:

“We’ve continued to invest in labor in our cafés and the quality of our people during the recession.”

“When everybody pulled back and we did more, the difference between us and our competitors went up.”

“The best time to grow is in a recession. The worst time to grow is in the boom days.”

Panera is one of the “good guys” in corporate leadership and customer experience creation.  They have had a steady, well-crafted strategy of manageable growth, product quality, freshness, free internet connectivity, effective loyalty programs, and a sense of community place.  They did not waver from their strategy or dilute their product offering by an obsession with cost-cutting.

How does your business strategy, execution, and discipline match-up to Panera?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here