Cosi’s New CEO – Our Service Stinks

Cosi’s New CEO – Our Service StinksDEERFIELD, IL –  Following quarterly results that saw same store sales decline by 2.7, the new CEO of Cosi Inc (NASDAQ:COSI) conceded that the real issue with the company is poor service and inconsistent leadership.  According to Stephen Edwards, Cosi CEO, ‘I think the real issue is Così’s complex history and lack of reliable success as a business.  The company has never been profitable, and leadership has rarely been consistent.

Annual revenue for the chain of 124 restaurants has declined every year since 2009 and traffic (the number of customer visits) fell by 5 percent in the last quarter.  During his quarterly earnings call with analysts and investors, Mr. Edwards said, ‘service (particularly in company-owned stores) is where we are experiencing the greatest shortfall and where we will be focusing the majority of our efforts.’

According to, Cosi scored only 2.6 out of five, leaving it trailing McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), Subway, and KFC (NYSE:YUM).  Comments from employees mentioned the lack of benefits and the fact that managers ‘fire employees for stupid reasons they don’t know how to talk to their employees,’ clearly points to system wide abuses.

Mr. Edwards went onto explain that ‘we have a culture that’s lost engagement with the process of serving food to people in a hospitable way, and we get a number of remarks from customers about how much they love our food and our products, but they’ve just been disappointed time and time again by the service or experience that they’ve received in the store.’  In order to boost the engagement levels of customers and employees, the company will be begin the process of retraining staff and managers.

However, excellent training systems will only take the company so far and Mr. Edwards noted that ‘training will not ensure a positive attitude or great customer service.’  Another factor is stable management – Mr. Edwards is the company’s fourth CEO since 2011 and that lack of stability has drawn attention away from delivering a positive customer experience.

The company currently operates locations in 16 states and the United Arab Emirates.

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About the author

Audrey is a senior editor for the business and finance sections.