In 1998, Don and Linda Eckles opened a drive-thru coffeehouse in Bellevue, Nebraska. Their business philosophy was simple: Stay committed to high-quality drinks and speedy service with a smile.
At the time, the drive-thru coffee shop model was fairly new, but in the 23 years since, Scooter’s Coffee has perfected the approach. Serving up responsibly-sourced hot and iced coffee, smoothies, teas, and a limited menu including breakfast items, muffins, and sandwiches, Scooter’s Coffee has become an integral part of many Midwesterners’ daily routine.
“Since our inception, we have focused on drive thru and the convenience that provides to customers,” says Kelly Crummer, senior director of franchise recruitment for Scooter’s Coffee. “With COVID, we have seen an increase in demand for drive-thru services, and we are set up to provide that.”
Scooter’s Coffee has more than 400 locations in the U.S., most of which are located in the Midwest. Because the brand acts as its own distributor, Crummer explains, they want to grow strategically outward from where stores are currently located and have an aggressive growth plan which includes opening more than 200 new stores in 2022.
“A lot of Midwest states have coffee deserts,” Crummer says. “The density in competition is not as high, so we want to capitalize on that opportunity and fill that need. Since we distribute to our own locations, we need stores to match the growth of our distribution network in order to fill in those gaps.”
Scooter’s Coffee works with franchisees who have a wide variety of experiences. Many have restaurant or hotel backgrounds, while some are executives in other companies who seek more financial freedom and flexibility. The most important factor when it comes to selecting franchisees is whether or not they’re a cultural match for the brand.
“Our core values—Love, Integrity, Humility, and Courage—are paramount to our success, and they are nonnegotiable,” Crummer says. “We are looking for people who want to partner with us and are willing to be coached. We are not trying to be all things to all people—while we love new ideas, we want to stay focused on friendly people serving amazing drinks, fast.”
The drive-thru kiosk model is the more popular design for franchisees. This model has a 674-foot building with a small footprint and lower staffing requirements. To qualify, potential franchisees must show $200,000 in liquid capital, including cash, savings, or assets that can be quickly liquidated. However, the culture fit trumps all else. Potential partners should be enthusiastic about coffee and dedicated to high customer service standards.
“One thing we talk about internally is the responsibility we have in servicing our customers,” Crummer says. “Many times we are the first human interaction they have outside their home in the morning, so we have a responsibility to start their day off right.”
For more on franchising with Scooter’s Coffee, visit franchising.scooterscoffee.com.