How to start a successful drive-thru beverage business

Editorial Team

4 min read
Woman picking up beverage in drive thru

The time has never been better to open a drive-thru beverage business. Whether you specialize in coffee, boba tea, soda, or even alcoholic beverages, the drive-thru market is booming.

Sales for drive-thru beverage vendors have been on the rise as of late–it’s one of the few success stories for the food and beverage industry since the pandemic. Just ask Clover merchant Jasmine Dietrich, who manages 13 drive-thru locations for her business, Dietrich Espresso!

Read on for some of the nuts and bolts of how to start a drive-thru beverage business. 

Do your research

Market research is a must when opening a business. In considering demand, think about your target market and who your competitors are. It’s a great idea to physically visit different kinds of shops like the one you want to open and scope out their operations, location, and menu. This will help you make informed decisions about what products to offer, the prices you should set, and how to market your business.

Plan your business

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to get serious and create a business plan. A business plan is like a blueprint–it defines your objectives, strategies, and resources required to start and run your business. And it’s crucial to have one for potential investors, advisors, and collaborators. Your plan should include a big-picture summary plus the nitty gritty of operations including your financing options, target market, pricing strategy, and marketing plan

Obtain the required permits and licenses

Obtaining the required permits and licenses, will depend on the laws and regulations of your city or state. This step is particularly important if you’re thinking of selling alcohol, but don’t overlook it if you’re selling coffee or tea either. You may need to apply for a business license, health permit, and food service permit. Check with your local government agency to ensure that you are complying with all the necessary regulations.

Pick your location

One benefit of starting a drive-thru beverage business is that overhead costs are relatively low. They’re even lower if you find a location that is already up and running–a tactic used by Jasmine Dietrich of Dietrich Espresso. Other considerations include making sure your location is accessible, visible, and safe. While areas with high-traffic volume are ideal, it’s important to make sure that there’s enough space for cars to line up and that the location has sufficient parking spots. 

Set up your beverage drive-thru business

This is the fun part! Make sure you have all necessary supplies, including signage and inventory. In addition to equipment like commercial refrigeration units, you’ll want a dependable POS system that accepts all payment types, meets the demands of your customers, and is easy for your employees to learn. Speaking of which, it’s also the time to hire your team!

Market your business

Getting the word out is crucial to launching a drive-thru beverage business. From social media and email marketing to keeping your website fresh, there are plenty of ways to reach your target audience. Make sure you have a strong brand identity that resonates with your target audience. And then get those discounts and promotions going to entice new customers and encourage repeat business. 

Starting a drive-thru beverage business requires the same careful planning, research, and execution that comes with starting any small business. But with the right tools, strategy, and team, drive-thru stands offer some great possibilities.

To learn more about our restaurant POS solutions that can help you move lines along and keep your business running smoothly, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.


This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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