The Future of Drive-Thrus Post-Coronavirus

A Scooter's Coffee kiosk with a line of cars.

As national awareness and concern about COVID-19 really came to a head in mid-March, business operators had to adapt. Many stores, including restaurants, changed their practices to accommodate social distancing.

And then, in a matter of days — as experts determined the situation to be more grave than simple in-store distancing measures could answer — the COVID-19 pandemic began to result in shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders in communities across the country. Customer access to food from restaurants and shops became much more limited.

Both consumers and operators became extra cautious and hyper-vigilant to reduce the opportunity for the spread of germs. This trend bodes well for the future of drive-thrus.

Profit-Saving Pivots

Foodservice businesses, including restaurants and coffee houses that didn’t completely close, began to serve customers at drive-thru windows, as well as curbside service and delivery, helped by online ordering and ordering via apps. Even restaurants that did not have drive-thrus previously created makeshift versions in their parking lots.

In many cases, drive-thru business has increased business year-over-year for a number of establishments offering it.

At many chains, The New York Times reported in May 2020, “ … drive-through accounted for as much as 70 percent of revenue before the crisis, generating billions of dollars for the industry every month. During the pandemic, sales have mostly held steady. In March, drive-throughs generated $8.3 billion across the fast-food industry, an increase from $8 billion in sales over the same period in 2019.”

People Will Be Cautious Going Forward

In the last few months, both food service staff and customers alike have been careful and cautious of one another, even in the few moments they interact at a drive-thru. Nonetheless, drive-thru service has been the best option for many.

Even as most cities and towns have reopened to some degree, businesses and customers carry on with limitations, including additional sanitation measures and required mask-wearing inside stores. Meanwhile, the future of drive-thrus is strong.

Tapering out of the quarantine, America generally is not likely to fully re-embrace the old normal anytime soon. With a new outlook on sanitary practices, businesses can expect to continue utilizing some of the changes they have already made.

Consumers Will Continue to Rely on Drive-Thrus

Though many consumers relish their return to dining inside restaurants and coffee shops, more people than ever will favor drive-thrus as they continue to look for convenient ways to limit risk. Contactless pickup and delivery, as well as drive-thrus, will continue to be the best, most simple avenues.

Considering that many Americans arguably have jumped the gun and rushed back into “normal” life too quickly — increasing the risk of spikes in COVID-19 in their communities — those who are still prudent and practicing smart precautions will seek to limit contact in most aspects of daily life.

Research by QSR Magazine in May 2020, discovered that 13 percent of people still don’t feel safe visiting a dine-in restaurant. The key is offering them options.

Drive-Thrus Will Adapt to Meet the Need

One of the biggest challenges — and it’s a good problem to have — from the increased demand for drive-thru service is longer lines of cars.

Operators will have to get creative to accommodate the influx. Where possible, coffee shops and other establishments may need to open an additional drive-thru lane or send staffers to carry food out to customers in cars who have ordered via app.

In the kitchen and food prep area, operators may need to reconfigure the layout for more efficiency or even more staff to produce more food and drink for drive-thru customers.

Drive-Thrus Are Good Business

Arguably, there has never been a better time to have a drive-thru franchise. Always a classic offering for convenience-seeking customers — especially coffee lovers — the drive-thru concept will not just endure but become more popular and relied upon as lifestyles change toward more caution.

Scooter’s Coffee®, LLC, the Midwest-based drive-thru coffee franchise that is experiencing booming growth, recently ranked in Entrepreneur magazine’s 2019 Fastest-Growing Franchises. This highly sought-after honor recognizes the 150 fastest-growing brands, based on the number of new franchise units added in the United States and Canada from July 2017 to July 2018. Scooter’s Coffee opened an impressive 22 new units during that time period. In fact, Scooter’s Coffee was named a fastest-growing franchise in 2018 as well, signaling an exciting trend for the brand.

Specific benefits of owning a Scooter’s Coffee franchise include location selection assistance, wholesale product pricing, a recession-resistant industry, ease of operation, construction assistance, a team of marketing professionals, and world-class operational support.

Scooter’s Coffee has been serving up delicious coffee, tasty treats, and genuine smiles since 1998. Visit today to learn more about joining the Scooter’s team and making your dreams a reality.

Request Franchise Information

    By requesting information, you agree that Scooter's Coffee may call and/or text you about your inquiry, which may involve the use of automated means. You do not need to consent as a condition of any purchase, and you can revoke consent at any time. You also agree to our Privacy Policy.