Espresso / Coffee Drive-Thru Location
Heavy automobile traffic for a drive-thru location
is a must. Selecting the right location may be the one decision
most important to the success of your coffee / espresso drive-thru
business. Look for a location at which you can reasonably expect
to capture at least 200 cars per day. At this rate, the typical
coffee or espresso drive-thru should be able to achieve a level
of sales that will produce a profit if rent and operating expenses
are in line. You will want to locate on the A.M. inbound commute
side of the street. You also need to consider the types of businesses
that might be surrounding you. If your coffee / espresso drive-thru
is located across the street from a high school, business park or
hospital, and the occupants of those places can easily wander over
to your walk-up window during the day or when they are on break,
this is an obvious advantage. Target primarily automobile traffic
when selecting your location. But being adjacent to a significant
population of potential daily consumers will certainly be a plus,
and you should factor it into your decision-making process.
Be sure to talk to your city or county planner and
find out about:
The feasibility of putting in a drive-thru
at the location.
What they will want in terms of curb cuts.
Accessibility of traffic to the location you are considering.
The length of the lane leading up to and away from the coffee
/ espresso drive-thru. If you need 150 feet of driveway for you
approach and egress and the site does not have this, you need to
rule it out immediately.
You will need to decide whether to locate on a lot
that has already been developed, or on one that is undeveloped.
Some examples of developed properties you may wish to consider are
the parking lots of malls, strip malls, grocery or other large retail
stores, gas station, etc. Developed properties present some valuable
advantages. The surface has already been paved, utilities have already
been brought onto the property, parking lot lighting has been installed,
and a daily supply of potential customers already drives into the
property to patronize the existing businesses.
Your second option is to develop a raw piece of land
for your coffee drive-thru. You may consider this if you find an
absolutely fantastic location. Usually, we find starting from scratch
to be less desirable and more expensive than locating on a developed
piece of property. You will more than likely need to pave the lot
and put in sidewalks, curb cuts, lighting, and landscaping. Developing
these features can be very expensive, costing from tens to hundreds
of thousands of dollars. Your interactions with the bureaucracies
will also become much more complex. Paving a lot may be affected
by code requirements that require such work as extensive grading
so that water will run off to the municipal storm drains. You may
also need to conform to stringent landscaping and lighting requirements.
All of these can add significant cost to your set up and start up.
We talked to one drive-thru manufacturer who
also owns several retail coffee / espresso drive-thru businesses.
He told us he likes to budget $25,000 to develop a location. If
the estimate for this development approaches $50,000, he reconsiders
the location and determines whether or not the investment is prudent
in relation to the potential return. It is for this reason he rarely
considers and undeveloped piece of property.
Get Yourself Noticed!
Visibility of your coffee / espresso drive thru from the street
is essential. Optimally, you want your drive-thru to be visible
from as far away as possible. Why position your drive-thru in a
location where oncoming motorists cant see you until it is
too late to pull in? Because coffee is an impulse buy, youll
want potential customers to see your drive-thru and have enough
time to think, "Hey, theres an espresso drive-thru, a
mocha would sure hit the spot right now, I think Ill get one."
The sooner a potential customer sees your drive-thru, the more time
he or she will have to make a decision about stopping to get a beverage.
Beyond being visible from a reasonable distance, you must also decide
if the background behind your building will keep potential customers
from noticing you. In other words, do the buildings, traffic, or
scenery located directly behind you in the on-coming traffics
line of vision distract drivers from seeing your coffee shop business?
Weve seen locations that make great first impressions. But
after we drove past them a few times to determine how visible a
coffee drive-thru might be, we become aware of some problems. The
building behind one potential location was painted so outrageously
that it was questionable as to whether or not our coffee drive-thru
would stand out amidst this visual noise.
Featuring graphics on the outside of your coffee drive-thru can
also be helpful. Consider having an artist paint large pictures
of beautiful espresso drinks, colorful smoothies, and luscious pastries
on the sides of your building. These murals will attract customers
and allow them to recognize what you are selling.
Be sure to check with your local bureaucracies to make sure they
will not object to the colors you are considering. Some cities have
ordinances that restrict the colors you may use. These cities are
trying to maintain an "acceptable" standard of appearance
for the community, and bright purple, fire engine red or taxicab
yellow may not meet their standards!