Owning a Coffee Drive-Thru: An Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to Get Started

A line of cars at a Scooter's Coffee drive-thru.

Owning a coffee drive-thru isn’t as easy as brewing a pot of joe and waiting for the customers to roll in. Before you get started, there are a few things you need to know that will go a long way to helping you not only open your coffee drive-thru but also be successful.

For the budding entrepreneur, entering the wonderful and exciting world of the coffee industry makes sense. The coffee industry is a robust market that’s not only growing but is also widely considered recession-resistant.

Here is your entrepreneur’s guide to getting started in the coffee industry and what you need to know to set yourself and your business up for success.

Start by Defining What You Want Your Goals to Be

People start their own businesses for all kinds of reasons. You may be tired of the rat race and are ready for a career change. You may be looking to improve your work-life balance, or you are prepared to set out on your own and be your own boss.

You also may see owning a coffee drive-thru as an investment for the future for you and your family. It’s important that you sit down and make a list of why you want to own a coffee drive-thru and what you hope to get out of business ownership.

Do Your Research and Set Realistic Expectations

They say that prior preparation prevents poor performance. It’s a saying that is as true in life as it is in business. Once you understand exactly why you want to invest in your own business, the next phase is clearly defining your expectations and making sure they are realistic.

If you’re planning on owning a coffee drive-thru, it’s important to take the time to do your research about the business — and be thorough. Give yourself a reasonable understanding of how much revenue you can expect to bring in, what your expenses will be, and how much money you can stand to make after everything is said and done.

Make a list of the things you need to know before you open your own coffee drive-thru. By the time you’re ready to open your doors, you should be reasonably confident that you can answer most people’s questions about your business, and if you don’t know the answer, you know where to look.

Learn How Much Owning a Coffee Drive-Thru Costs

A big advantage of doing your research beforehand is avoiding potential surprises. This is especially true when it comes to how much things cost. A lot more goes into owning a coffee drive-thru than buying beans and coffeemakers.

You also need to consider additional equipment like espresso machines, microwaves, ovens if you plan on offering baked goods, blenders, and more. On top of your food equipment, you’ll also need display cases to show off and store your products, furniture like tables and chairs, lighting, signs, and the list goes on. And this is all just to get started. We haven’t even touched on coffee shop expenses for rent, utilities, and labor.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to consider when starting a coffee drive-thru, and it doesn’t come cheap. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard by unexpected expenses. The better your understanding of what it costs, the better off you’ll be.

Understand How Much You Stand to Make Personally

As with any business venture, you’re going to want to know how much you stand to make when it’s all said and done. Just like how you shouldn’t be surprised by how much it costs to start your business, it also isn’t helpful to be shocked when you get that first paycheck.

Reports show that an owner of a medium-sized coffee shop can make an average of approximately $60,000 to $160,000 per year. However, it’s important to remember that this is an industry average and can vary depending on you, your business, and your circumstances. This is a ballpark average, but things may be different for you, which is why it’s important to do your research!

Review your numbers and your business plan carefully to determine what sort of salary will work for your business and give yourself a reasonable estimate of how much you can expect to bring home.

Know What Running Your Business Will Look Like

While many people drink coffee throughout the day, there’s no question that mornings are a busy time for many coffee drive-thrus. Whether on the way to work, school, or simply starting their day right, many people need their morning coffee to get going. That means being prepared for many an early morning as a coffee drive-thru owner.

Owning a coffee drive-thru is one of those things where, as an owner, you determine your own level of involvement. Surrounding yourself with the right team is crucial in creating a recipe for success and how much you’ll be getting your hands dirty (and how often).

Hiring a manager you can trust to run your business the right way goes a long way to making your coffee drive-thru run smoothly. By taking the time to build the right team, you have more time to focus on working on your business, not just in it.

Ask Yourself If You Want to Start From Scratch or Buy a Franchise

No one ever said that owning a coffee drive-thru was going to be easy, but starting one can go a lot more smoothly when you partner with the right franchise. One of the biggest benefits of a franchise is that they’ve done this more than a few times before, and can provide you with the know-how and the training to get your coffee drive-thru started on the right foot.

Scooter’s Coffee® is growing rapidly throughout the United States. One of the many reasons for this sustained success is the support it offers its franchisees. Learn how you can start your own journey to owning a coffee drive-thru when you start your Scooter’s Coffee franchise today!