Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Food & Beverages

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® (CBTL) is one of the largest privately owned, family-run specialty coffee and tea retailers in the world, with over 360 stores worldwide. Founded in 1963, the organization aspires to create a culture where better people, better product, and a better environment culminate in a customer experience unlike any other. They refer to it as a Total Quality Experience. It proved to be a winning strategy. The organization has grown 25% each year since 1999, and projected growth into the future was equally aggressive. But skyrocketing employee and management turnover and a shrinking labor pool threatened to impede the organization’s successful track record.

the challenge

CBTL sought a solution that would reduce labor costs and boost efficiency and effectiveness through a strategic use of human capital, attract the caliber of leaders necessary to create competitive advantage, and create an emphasis on performance management tied to specific hiring criteria and competencies.

the solution

After being introduced to The Ken Blanchard Companies Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) Model, CBTL knew it was the solution they had been looking for. As Michael Serchia, Director of Human Resources, puts it, “The model possessed the simplicity and the direct approach that our people could identify with.” In addition, CBTL felt SLII would allow them to raise the bar for leadership development at every level and establish a shared leadership language and style that would permeate each retail location.

Working in tandem with The Ken Blanchard Companies, they created a blended solution to train Regional Managers, District Managers, and Area Training Managers and plans to introduce over 125 General Managers to the concept. Utilizing a design that combined a WebEx kickoff, and individual coaching sessions, the organization had its leadership development foundation firmly in place. In addition, tremendous energy was spent prior to training to set the context for success and to establish accountability to encourage every employee to contribute to the change effort.


Results of their impact study have been impressive and include: improved store sales, increased productivity in lower performing stores, stronger teaming and relationships, and improved employee retention. The training process has also helped to identify management weaknesses that, when addressed, will drive improved morale, higher engagement, and increased retention in the future.

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