March 1, 2024
Lauren Platero

11 Incredible Benefits of Operating a Drive Thru Coffee Shop

Did you know that there are numerous benefits of operating a drive thru coffee shop? In fact, quick service restaurants in general have become increasingly popular during the last several years. According to restaurant industry and coffee statistics, consumers are constantly seeking high-quality casual dining experiences. So what’s better than the ability to purchase coffee drinks and snacks in the comfort of your own car?

Before we outline the many benefits of operating a drive thru coffee shop, let’s define this type of business. See below:

What Is a Drive Thru Coffee Shop?

A drive thru coffee shop is simply a business that sells coffee, tea, and various food pairings with a window and wrap-around driveway. Think of it as a fast food establishment that has a typical coffee shop menu.

Whether the drive thru coffee shop offers items like specialty coffee, matcha, and more will depend on the brand. However, when a coffee shop has a drive thru, the menu doesn’t change too much from traditional businesses. That concept is more likely to occur with fast food restaurants.

11 Benefits of Operating a Drive Thru Coffee Shop

Coffee shops are some of the most sought-after entities in the food and beverage space. However, one way to surpass most, if not all of the local coffee shops in your area is to have a drive thru. Read on to discover eleven benefits of operating a drive thru coffee shop in the digital age.

1. They’re Ideal for Inclement Weather

One of the most obvious benefits of operating a drive thru coffee shop is how it’s suitable for poor weather. If any potential customers get stuck driving through flurries, sleet, or rain, they can comfortably get their order anyway. This factor will help to sustain steady sales trends.

2. Fast Turnaround Time

Similar to a self service coffee shop, drive thru businesses allow for a fast turnaround time. Instead of prolonged visits in the dining area, people pull up to a drive thru window, place their order, and then drive away. As a result, such businesses are able to serve more customers in shorter periods of time.

3. It’s Easy to Reach More Customers

Due to the lack of customers who will take advantage of indoor seating, drive thru coffee shops are able to reach more people. As more cars drive up to the line, others will be departing the lot. There’s no need for ample seating inside or outdoors, which results in a business model that offers extremely quick service.

4. Compatibility With Pre-Order Capabilities

The same coffee shop POS system integrations that you use for coffee shop online ordering can accommodate pre-order functionalities. Not only does this give customers an added touch of convenience, but the coffee shop’s staff can prepare these orders as soon as they roll in. Then, upon getting to the window, the food or drinks will be available. As a result, turnover can be even quicker than it already is with traditional drive thru ordering processes. The best coffee shops are those that accommodate the staff and consumers alike, so keep this in mind when investing in tech solutions.

5. No Need for Hosts or Wait Staff

The cost to open a coffee shop and keep it profitable can be super high. So just think about how much money you can save by avoiding a massive labor cost by operating a drive thru coffee shop. Instead of employing multiple hosts and servers, you only need staff members working at the two windows, in addition to the kitchen crew.

6. Simpler Menus Are Ideal for Organization

When learning how to start a coffee shop, you’ll quickly learn that all operations revolve around the menu. And while you can still serve hot and cold brew coffee, there are many food and coffee trends you’ll want to implement. Besides, you’ll actually have to do this in order to implement product differentiation. Just ensure that the digital menu boards are clear, simple, and easy to read. This way, it won’t hold up anybody in line.

7. They Promote Safety During Cold and Flu Season

We all know that brick and mortar restaurants can be unsanitary. From physical menus to sitting in close proximity to other parties, it’s not ideal for those who are feeling under the weather. But with a drive thru coffee shop, most of these interactions are taken out of the equation.

8. Parking Spaces Are Irrelevant

People who order food and drinks at a drive thru window don’t need to park their vehicle. Therefore, drive thru coffee shop owners have much more flexibility when it comes to where they establish a business. Large parking lots are not essential, which also makes finding suitable real estate less competitive.

9. The Surrounding Area Is Less Congested

This benefit kind of goes hand in hand with the need for little to no parking spaces. As people make their way through the line, any congestion that builds up will automatically be alleviated. The only time when this might not be the case is early in the morning when most people are commuting to work. However, even in these situations, drive thru lines tend to move rather quickly.

10. Businesses Can Utilize Voice Ordering Features

Integrating your coffee shop management software with voice ordering solutions can simplify the ordering process. The automation functionalities can also help reduce labor in the workplace, making the business more profitable and efficient.

11. Outdoor Signs Can Boost Visibility

There will be many coffee shop marketing tactics that you execute to attract more customers. However, one of the simplest ways to get more people driving up to your window is by having a visible outdoor sign. As people pass through your area, they’ll be met with a convenient place to grab a coffee to go.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Drive Thru Coffee Shop

The whole idea of operating a drive thru coffee shop isn’t much different from managing a regular one. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that there is still much about the venture to learn about. Continue reading to learn a bit more about drive thru coffee shop brands and the industry sector as a whole.

Is a Drive Thru Coffee Shop a Profitable Business Idea?

Oh yes, drive thru coffee shop brands have the potential to be extremely lucrative. For one, they offer a significant amount of convenience to the customers. Meanwhile, coffee and food pairings are super popular. So no matter who your local audience consists of, your menu items will be selling left and right.

What Was the First Drive Thru Coffee Shop?

Motor Moka was the first drive thru coffee shop in the United States. The doors, or windows that is, opened in 1990. After gaining popularity via TV news shows and journals, it achieved massive success with roughly 2,500 cars passing through every day at its peak. It's safe to say that this enterprise paved the way for coffee franchises like Dunkin' and Starbucks.

Is Running a Drive Thru Coffee Shop Easy or Difficult?

Here’s the thing, starting a drive thru coffee shop from scratch is difficult, as it is for any new business. But once you have operations in motion and standardized processes for daily tasks, it becomes much simpler. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro, and running a coffee shop won’t be a challenge. It might just be super busy. But hey, that's the name of the game when operating a profitable venture.

How Do You Open a Drive Thru Coffee Shop?

An entrepreneur can open a drive thru coffee shop by renting or purchasing a structure that already has a window and driveway on the side. Or, if there isn't one available in their area, they can pay for land and construct a drive thru coffee shop from the ground up–literally. Then, you proceed with a regular coffee shop business plan. Not every town will have suitable buildings available. So, this specific business model might be a major investment.

Is Having a Drive Thru Window Worth It?

Yes, when you’re opening a coffee shop business, try your best to get a location that has a drive thru window. The convenience factor of being able to retrieve food and drinks without leaving the car is a popular luxury in this day and age. As a result, operating a drive thru coffee shop will allow for maximum success.

Drive Profits With a Drive Thru Coffee Shop

If you’re still in the process of opening a coffee shop, strive for a structure that accommodates drive thru service. If you already own a business with a traditional layout, it might be worth investing in an additional location to test drive thru operations. The chances of this switch resulting in dramatically higher profits are strong.