Jack Southerland has worked for Scooter’s Coffee for a year. He started as a barista and was quickly promoted to shift lead—the employee charged with supervising co-workers during his shift. It won’t be long before he’s named Assistant Manager, and he hopes to own his own franchise one day.

This is not unusual at Scooter’s Coffee. Many top employees work their way up from barista to management roles. What is unusual is that Southerland is a 16-year-old high school junior. “I just kind of fell in love with it,” Southerland says. “It’s such a fun place to work—both working with the people and working for the company.”

Jack credits his father, Rob, with helping develop his entrepreneurial spirit. Rob owns three Scooter’s Coffee franchises in North Carolina. From the beginning, he shared details about the franchising process with his children. “Whenever we went to Scooter’s Coffee headquarters, we would bring Jack and/or his brother, Luke,” he says. Jack showed interest in the business right away.

Rob and his wife ran into some problems as he worked to open their first franchise. They had to buy out their partners and take over the management of the franchise. Since Rob had not yet retired from active-duty military, all the responsibility fell to his wife. “I hated seeing my mom as stressed out as she was. So, I just jumped in and helped out,” Jack says. “When school got out for the summer, Jack was working 35 to 40 hours a week,” Rob notes. “He was a crucial piece to opening that store.”

The idea of a franchise as a family business is common among Scooter’s Coffee franchisees. Many of them invest with the goal of growing generational wealth and building something they can leave to future generations.

Scooter’s Coffee may now have over 700 locations in 33 states, but it started as a family business. Founders Don and Linda Eckles opened their first drive-thru coffeehouse in Bellevue, Nebraska. As their business grew, they remained consistent with their core values of integrity, love, humility, and courage. These core values are another thing that attracts entrepreneurs. These values align with how they live their lives and how they want to raise their families.

Franchisee Tim Scott always planned to involve his family in his business ventures. His holding companies, which he used to purchase his franchises, all carry the name JPM. “It stands for Jordan, Parker, and Megan—my three children,” he says.

As Omaha residents, Scott and his family were very familiar with Scooter’s Coffee. “Our daughter Megan was a huge fan. She would always stop at Scooter’s Coffee on the way to high school. She even collected the stickers that came on the lids of their coffee cups,” he says. Scott owned more than a dozen hair salon franchises when, a few years ago, he decided to diversify. “We wanted to join a brand that believed in the same things we did—doing what’s right, doing your best, and treating others the way you’d like to be treated—all of the great things that Scooter’s Coffee believes in,” Scott says.

Scott signed his franchise agreement with Scooter’s Coffee in early 2020. Megan had recently graduated from college with a degree in hospitality and tourism and had earned a highly coveted internship with Disney. “These internships are extremely difficult to get,” Tim says. “Disney only hires between 5 and 10 percent of applicants. And Megan was offered the chance to extend her internship through the summer of 2020,” he says. The plan was for Megan to continue on her current path until construction started on Tim’s first Scooter’s Coffee, and then she would come to work with him. But then COVID hit, and Disney shut down its theme parks and canceled all internships. “So, I told her, ‘Let’s go ahead and find a way to immerse you into Scooter’s Coffee,’” Scott says.

Megan got a job as a barista at Scooter’s Coffee and, under the guidance of the store’s operator, quickly moved up. “They were opening a new store, and they asked Megan to help with the opening. Later, she helped open another store and wound up managing it, so it’s been a great learning experience for her,” Scott says. “What started as an inconvenience with Disney cutting off her internship turned into a blessing.”

When Scott started construction on his second store in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, Megan came on board as the store manager. “That location opened last May. Our first franchise opened in Litchfield, Minnesota, in February of 2022,” Scott recalls. “So, right now, Megan operates two stores, which will soon be three when we open our next location in Blaine, another Minneapolis suburb, this fall.” They plan to open three more in Minneapolis and recently signed to add another territory in Brainerd, Minnesota. “I handle all the financing and all the accounting, and Megan is in charge of operations.”

While Megan works with him on Scooter’s Coffee, another son is involved in his hair salon franchises. “I think that any time you look at operating or owning a business, you’ve got to figure out what the out is at the end. But the goal should be building generational wealth for your family,” Scott says.

From the outside, franchises may be perceived as extensions of big corporations run by people far removed from the day-to-day operations. But for many Scooter’s Coffee franchisees like Rob Southerland and Tim Scott, their franchises are a family business, a way to not only grow wealth for future generations but to also build a legacy for their family.

Missy McKinley, the Senior Vice President of Operations for Scooter’s Coffee, joined Scooter’s Coffee in 2019 to help franchise development, training, and support teams expand the brand. With her expertise, Scooter’s Coffee grew from 260 locations in 2019 to 700 in 2023.

Beverage, Franchising, Outside Insights, Story, Scooter's Coffee