How to Start a Drive-Thru Coffee Shop in 7 Steps

If you’re an ambitious entrepreneur interested in the lucrative coffee industry, a drive-thru business might present the perfect opportunity for you. With the right planning, determination, and a little bit of caffeine, you can turn your dream into a reality. Learn how to start a drive-thru coffee shop, the milestones along the way, and how to get past any bumps in the process.

Step One: Market Research and Planning

The first step on your journey is to conduct thorough market research. Identify your target market, study local demographics, and evaluate the competition. Determine the demand for specialty coffee in the area and consider factors like foot traffic, nearby businesses, and commuting patterns. Use this information to develop a comprehensive business plan, including your vision, goals, financial projections, and marketing strategies.

Step Two: Secure Financing

Once you have a solid business plan, you’ll need to secure financing to cover startup costs, equipment purchases, leasehold improvements, and initial inventory. Finding financing can be challenging, especially for new entrepreneurs without a proven track record. Be prepared to demonstrate the viability of your business and its potential for success. Explore different funding options such as personal savings, bank loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, or seeking investors.

Step Three: Choose the Right Locations

Even if you’ve just started exploring how to open a drive-thru coffee shop, you already know location is critical. Look for areas with high visibility, easy accessibility, and a steady flow of traffic. Ensure there is ample space for vehicles to queue and maneuver, and check local zoning regulations and permits required for a drive-thru business.

Step Four: Build a Network of Suppliers

To serve great coffee, you need to establish relationships with reliable suppliers. Source high-quality coffee beans, syrups, milk, pastries, and other supplies necessary for your menu. Consider factors like price, reliability, and proximity when choosing your suppliers.

Step Five: Design and Construct Your Drive-Thru Coffee Business

Designing and constructing a drive-thru coffee shop can involve various challenges, including adhering to building codes, ensuring optimal traffic flow, and balancing aesthetics with functionality. It’s essential to work closely with professionals who understand your vision and can address any potential obstacles.

Work with architects, designers, and contractors to create a functional and visually appealing drive-thru coffee shop. Consider elements such as a well-designed drive-thru lane, menu boards, signage, outdoor seating (if desired), and a comfortable interior workspace. A convenient and inviting setting will help you drive your coffee shop profits.

Step Six: Staff and Train Your Team

Your team is the backbone of your coffee shop, so hire dedicated and customer-focused staff members. Develop training programs to educate your employees about coffee preparation, customer service, health and safety protocols, and operating the drive-thru efficiently.

Step Seven: Grand Opening and Beyond

Congratulations! It’s time to share your drive-thru coffee shop with your community. Create a buzz through targeted marketing campaigns, promotions, and collaborations with local influencers or businesses. Continuously monitor customer feedback, adapt your strategies, and strive for continuous improvement to ensure long-term success.

While opening a drive-thru coffee shop from scratch as an independent entrepreneur can be fulfilling, it’s worth considering alternative paths. By joining an established and award-winning brand like Scooter’s Coffee®, you gain access to a proven business model, brand recognition, training programs, ongoing support, and marketing resources. Franchising can help mitigate some of the challenges faced when starting a business independently.

Scooter’s Coffee is known around the country for our top-quality coffee and food delivered with a smile. Our franchisees benefit from over two decades of franchising expertise, and our brand is rapidly expanding as one of the nation’s most loved names in coffee.

To learn more about Scooter’s Coffee, request franchise information today!