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The Corp responds to criticism, recognizes faults
The Corp is not perfect.
That’s why feedback, like last week’s Voice op-ed by Julie Patterson entitled “Corporal punishment: My daily dose of café-au-hell” is so important to us. While I take issue with a great deal of the author’s commentary—and all of her blatant falsehoods—the article was not useless. The criticisms leveled in the piece were vague and emotional, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the author, a Corp customer, had enough bad experiences with our services to label us the worst organization at Georgetown.
It’s cheesy, but the Corp refers to the student population of Georgetown as our shareholders. My friends in the McDonough School of Business will be quick to point out the misuse of the term, but it encapsulates our relationship with the Georgetown community: ultimately, we are accountable to and responsible for serving our fellow students. So, although “shareholders” is only an analogy, it seems like last week’s article offers a good opportunity to highlight to our shareholders some of our most recent efforts to improve in some of the very areas Patterson complained about.
One particularly pungent ingredient in the author’s daily dose of hell was pricing at Corp services. Regular customers of any of our storefronts know well that labeling our prices as “inflated” is not just a mischaracterization, but a gross misstatement. Additionally, the author seems to oversimplify the heavily nuanced issues related to price structure and inventory management.
We often brag about our $1 Cokes, so I’ll avoid beating that dead horse. Our staple drinks at Uncommon Grounds, MUG, and Midnight MUG—teas, coffees, lattes, mochas, etc.—undercut both Starbuck’s and Saxby’s prices. You may have also noticed an increasingly wide variety of new, affordable prepared and frozen products at Vittles and Snaxa, an effort to better meet the daily needs of our fellow students.
Other Corp offerings, like our Storage and Shuttle services, provide a level of affordability that is unmatched by any competitor. Finally, over the past two years, we’ve focused heavily on consolidating our vendors, which has and will continue to cut prices across our services. While I can’t promise we’ll ever be able to match the prices of international chains like Safeway and McDonald’s, I can promise that we’ll continue to work toward that end, and we’ll continue to pass our savings on to our customers.
Patterson also mentioned poor customer service, another area where self-awareness is important for the Corp. In the past two years, we’ve expanded and standardized our training across all Corp services. In the revamped model, training is pointed and comprehensive, and employees spend 400 percent more time in training. Beyond that, we’ve updated the mechanism we use for internally incentivizing good performance and addressing poor performance in a timely and direct fashion, going beyond what many of our larger competitors like Safeway and Giant do in this area.
Most importantly, our Corp-wide management team is finalizing a model of evaluations in which all employees are involved as both subjects and contributors. These efforts are relatively new, and I know that they haven’t achieved the goal of ensuring universally high standards, but we are actively working to that end.
Finally, the author derides the component parts of the Corp, that is, our employees. These generalized claims were extremely disappointing. To label all Corp employees, or any subset of this campus community, as entirely “pretentious and indie” or to question the intelligence of our employees is simply unfair. The Corp is not removed from the exceptional atmosphere that Georgetown cultivates, as even a limited interaction with any of our employees will demonstrate. In my admittedly biased view, it is our student employees who truly set the Corp apart from its competitors. We share your midterm misery, we’re just as pleasantly surprised by Hoya football’s strong showing as you are, and we can recommend a good Micro teacher right before Add/Drop ends.
I’m not excusing the Corp’s failings. I’m certainly not suggesting that the Corp deserves a free pass because of our unique student-run structure or non-profit status. Nor do we deserve a blind eye because of our philanthropic donations to the Georgetown community. I’m contending that it is only through constructive, pointed criticism that we can continue to identify and correct our internal issues and ultimately serve Georgetown better.
So keep the comments coming through our virtual outlets (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), through my inbox (email@example.com), or by registering feedback with employees on shift. In the meantime, we’ll continue to find new ways to serve you, like Corp Catering’s new group package for students or our free advertising opportunities for campus organizations. For helping the Corp improve, for your continued support, and for holding us to high standards, I say a big “thank you” to the Georgetown community. The Corp’s not perfect, but we’re working on it.