Case | HBS Case Collection | March 1987 (Revised October 1993)

Au Bon Pain: The French Bakery Cafe, The Partner/Manager Program

by W. Earl Sasser


In recent years, Au Bon Pain (ABP), a chain of upscale French bakeries/sandwich cafes based in Boston, confronted a set of human resource problems endemic to the fast food industry (i.e., a labor shortage which made it difficult to attract and maintain quality crew personnel and management candidates, an inadequately trained management staff, and high turnover). To deal with the resulting "cycle of failure" while increasing individual initiative and performance at the unit level, ABP devised a new compensation-incentive system for its store managers--the Partner/Manager Program. Under this program, store managers would be paid a standard base salary plus a share of the incremental profits. The case asks students to evaluate the program by comparing it to ABP's existing compensation system, determining the different ways in which managers from two stores operating under an experimental run of the program achieved their results, and by considering the strategic implications of implementing the program in all of the company's stores.

Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Managerial Roles; Retention; Employees; Performance Improvement; Recruitment; Problems and Challenges; Compensation and Benefits; Food and Beverage Industry; Service Industry; Boston;


Sasser, W. Earl. "Au Bon Pain: The French Bakery Cafe, The Partner/Manager Program." Harvard Business School Case 687-063, March 1987. (Revised October 1993.)