Five Steps to Drive-Thru Success: Part 1

Jun 29

Sarah Hoxsie

Five Steps to Drive-Thru Success: Part 1

By: Sarah Hoxsie

Opening a drive-thru can be a revenue and volume increasing tactic that can help expand your business in more ways than one. Drive thru’s have become even more important for success due to COVID-19, which has left some businesses seeking new and innovative ways to deliver products to their customers. So how does one go about opening a drive-thru? Continue reading to learn the five steps to drive-thru success.

Before you consider opening a drive-thru, it is important to define your brand and understand your target market. A great question to ask yourself first is, why are you in coffee? Is it for the community, money, fun, people, or because it is your passion? Taking the time to write down these answers will help you discover your brand and stick to it. Next, think about who your target market is. Some helpful questions to define your market are:

  • What type of community are you trying to create?
  • What are your surroundings? (Schools, downtown, business center?)
  • Organic or non-organic? Reusable cups or styrofoam cups? Coffee centric drinks or sugar-based drinks?
  • What group are you focusing your marketing efforts towards?

Each of these questions will help you uncover who your main customer base is and if a drive-thru may be beneficial. From there you can develop consistent branding that will drive customers to your business. Some ways to be consistent include, music, uniforms, greeting, art, décor, and your menu. Each of these areas should be tailored to your brand and target market, to create a strong image that will keep your customer engaged and returning.


Step One: Maximize Your Location

The first step to opening a drive-thru is making sure your location is easily accessible. Researching data on traffic flow can help you conclude this, whether you search for it on the DOT website, chamber of commerce, or simply sit and count cars passing. Data on the morning traffic flow is important as this is the busiest time for most coffee shops.  Other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is the morning traffic on your side of the road?
  • Would you stop or drive to the next stand?
  • Is it easy to pull in and out of your business?
  • Is there room for at least four cars in the drive-thru?

After reviewing data on your location, a good benchmark is 60 to 300 customers for every 30,000 vehicles that drive by between the hours of 6am and 10am. This will vary depending on the speed of traffic, ease of in and out, customer service, product prep/speed, and surrounding competition. Additionally, 50-70% of drive-thru coffee business takes place from 6am to 10am.

Stop by the blog next Tuesday for Step 2 in discovering the Five Steps to Drive-Thru Success!

Adapted from a Coffee Fest New York 2020 seminar, presented by Mike Miller of Dillanos Coffee Roasters.