10 Best Drive-Thru Franchises 2024

The popularity of Drive-thru coffee kiosks is growing all around the country. And if you want to benefit from this growing demand, then the 10 best drive-thru franchises in this guide are just what you need to explore.

Nationwide trends show that consumers want easy access to items such as breakfast, coffee, etc. when they are in a hurry.

And after COVID-19, the concept of Drive-thru has really kicked off, making it a lucrative opportunity for investors to consider.

So make sure you read this guide till the end and explore all the options if you want to make money in this sector.

10 Best Drive-Thru Franchises

10 Best Drive-Thru Franchises 2024

1. Scooter’s Coffee

Scooter's Coffee
Founded1998
Franchising Since2001
Estimated Outlets750
Initial Investment$797,000 – $1,341,500
Franchise Fees$40,000
Liquidity$250,000
Royalty Fees6%

Scooter’s Coffee is one of the best drive-thru franchises and the company runs on this business model only. This coffee franchise is known for serving breakfast burritos, pastries, Coffee, and other drinks and has over 750 outlets.

Scooter’s drive-thru kiosk requires an area of 664 sq. feet only, requires very few staff members, can be customized as per the location, and has low utility costs.

All these things make this drive-thru franchise opportunity worth considering. However, you must note that this franchise’s initial investment is a bit high.


2. Planet Smoothie

planet smoothie
Founded1995
Franchising SinceN/A
Estimated Outlets140+
Initial Investment$190,650 – $446,500 
Franchise Fees$12,000 – $25,000
Liquidity$100,000
Royalty Fees5%

Founded more than 20 years ago, Planet Smoothie is known for its menu that’s built around real fruit and other healthier ingredients.

Planet Smoothie has been seeing an increase in sales ever since they started drive-thru service in 2019 and is looking to focus on this area more.

This is a low-cost opportunity, and the franchisor offers world-class training, support, and help with site selection, among other things.

Overall, if you are looking for an affordable and profitable drive-thru franchise, then Planet Smoothie is a great choice for that.


3. Jack in the Box

Jack In The Box drive-thru
Founded1951
Franchising Since1982
Estimated Outlets2,189
Initial Investment$1,765,500 – $2,761,600
Franchise Fees$50,000
Liquidity$500,000
Royalty Fees5%

Jack in the Box is an excellent drive-thru franchise because 90% of their 500 million annual guests choose drive-thru or take-out service.

Jack in the Box was founded more than 70 years ago and has expanded to over 2,189 locations globally.

Also, the average unit volume sales of Jack in the Box franchise owners is $1,837,053, so this is the kind of sales you can expect to make, which makes the hefty investment look worth it.

The franchisor offers the needed support and training to help you set up this business successfully. Overall, you can consider this franchise if you have the needed capital.


4. Culvers

Culvers drive-thru
Founded1984
Franchising Since1988
Estimated Outlets918
Initial Investment$2,524,000 – $7,228,000
Franchise Fees$55,000
Liquidity$500,000 – $750,000
Royalty Fees4%

Founded in 1984, Culver’s is a very famous fast-casual restaurant chain in the U.S. The company started franchising in 1988 and has expanded to over 918 locations and counting.

Culver’s is such a beloved brand because of the high-quality and fresh ingredients it uses to make its food. The brand has a loyal customer base across 26 states, which you can benefit from.

You can also benefit from the drive-thru build-out this franchise offers, or you can choose to invest in a standard outlet or both. Overall, the profitability of Culver’s franchise is high.


5. Buona

Buona
Founded1981
Franchising Since2022
Estimated Outlets26
Initial Investment$2,700,600 – $5,081,067
Franchise Fees$40,000 – $60,000
Liquidity$300,000
Royalty Fees4% – 7%

Founded over 40 years ago, Buona is a fast-casual restaurant chain that is known for serving unique food offerings prepared with the freshest ingredients.

You can choose a single or multiple units of this franchise. And you can also choose from different franchise models right, from the drive-thru, in-line, free-standing models, etc.

The investment will differ depending on the franchise model you choose. For a drive-thru Buona franchise, you will need to invest between $2,700,600 and $5,081,067 in initial investment.

Buona is a good option to invest in if you want to put your money in a brand that has survived for so many years and has a proven business model.


6. Farm Stores

Farm Stores
Founded1957
Franchising Since2015
Estimated Outlets41
Initial Investment$230,000 – $571,700
Franchise Fees$25,000
Liquidity$150,000
Royalty FeesN/A

Farm Stores is a friendly, fast, drive-thru store that sells coffee, groceries, fresh-baked bread, and pastries. They are the drive-thru version of the “10 Items or Less” checkout lane of a supermarket or that of a coffee shop or convenience store.

This is one of the most affordable drive-thru franchises in the grocery/convenience store category. It has also been ranked 44th in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.

So, if you are looking to invest in a drive-thru franchise in this niche, then a Farm Stores franchise is the best option for that.


7. Sonic

Sonic drive thru
Founded1953
Franchising Since1973
Estimated Outlets3,500+
Initial Investment$1,714,200 – $3,370,900
Franchise Fees$30,000 – $45,000
Liquidity$500,000
Royalty Fees1% – 5%

Sonic is a fast-food burger chain and drive-thru franchise that was founded in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

The company offers drive-thru franchises for both traditional and non-traditional business models.

The candidates who meet their financial criteria and get shortlisted will receive eight weeks of intensive preopening training to help them run this business.

The application process is simple, and if you have the needed capital, you can get in touch with them today and get started on your franchising journey.


8. The Human Bean

The Human Bean
Founded1998
Franchising Since2002
Estimated Outlets260
Initial Investment$552,350 – $1,058,850
Franchise Fees$30,000
Liquidity$200,000
Royalty Fees0%

The Human Bean is a popular drive-thru, stand-alone coffee chain and franchise that was founded in 1998.

The company has a solid and successful business model and has expanded to over 260 locations in 21 states today.

What we love about this drive-thru franchise is that the franchisor does not charge any royalty fee, which is quite rare.

And with the investment price starting at $552,350, we believe this is a profitable opportunity that you must consider.


9. PJ’s Coffee

PJ's Coffee drive-thru
Founded1978
Franchising Since1989
Estimated Outlets181
Initial Investment$350,000 – $450,000
Franchise Fees$25,000 – $35,000
Liquidity$150,000
Royalty Fees5%

PJ’s Coffee was founded in 1978 and is known for its 100% Arabica coffee. The brand originated in New Orleans, but it has now flourished internationally, even in Vietnam and Kuwait.

PJ’s Coffee offers drive-thru-only franchise models apart from their standard models. The investment for a PJ’s Coffee franchise varies depending on the kind of business model you choose to invest in.

For the drive-thru model, the investment range is $350,000 – $450,000, which is quite affordable compared to the other options we have shared in this guide till now.


10. Captain D’s

Captain D's drive-thru
Founded1969
Franchising SinceN/A
Estimated Outlets500+
Initial Investment$898,600 – $1,354,200
Franchise Fees$35,000
Liquidity$350,000
Royalty Fees4.5%

Captain D’s is a QSR restaurant chain that is known for its lip-smacking seafood and other items.

This walk-up or drive-thru-only franchise does not offer any indoor seating option. It is constructed in about 960 square feet of space, allowing for a drive-thru option only.

To own this franchise, you must have liquid cash of $350,000 minimum and a net worth of at least $1,000,000.

If you meet these requirements, then you can go to their website straightaway and fill out the franchise form for more details.


Comparison Of 5 Best Drive-Thru Franchise Opportunities

CompanyFoundedOutletsFranchise FeeInitial InvestmentRoyalty Fee
Scooter’s Coffee1998750$40,000$797,000 – $1,341,5006%
Planet Smoothie1995140+$12,000 – $25,000$190,650 – $446,500 5%
Jack In The Box19512,189$50,000$1,765,500 – $2,761,6005%
Culver’s1984918$55,000$2,524,000 – $7,228,0004%
Buona198126$40,000 – $60,000$2,700,600 – $5,081,0674% – 7%

When Should You Choose A Drive-Thru Franchise?

Ask yourself these questions before you put your money in a drive-thru franchise:

Do I have the needed investment?

As you can see from the initial investment of most of the drive-thru franchises that we have shared in this guide, starting a drive-thru franchise comes at a hefty cost.

In fact, the initial investment for most of these franchises is more than $500,000.

So make sure you have your capital ready and sorted. If you are short on investment, then find an alternative investor or figure out if taking a loan is possible.

Can I deal with limited control over my business?

Investing in a franchise offers you the benefit of brand image and existing customer base.

However, when you buy a franchise, you are supposed to follow the regulations and standards set by the franchisor. As such, you get only limited control and say in the daily business operation.

If you can deal with this for the aforementioned benefits, then you can buy a franchise. Otherwise, you are better off starting an individual business.


Things You Need To Know Before Choosing A Drive-Thru Franchise

Here are some things that you must find out about before you invest in any drive-thru franchise:

Failure Rate

A very important thing to find out before you invest in a drive-thru franchise is the failure rate. Failure rate means the total number of franchised outlets that open and close in a year.

So, find the failure rate and invest in a franchise that has zero or very low zero failure rate to avoid taking too much risk.

Marketing & Royalty Fees

Most franchisors charge royalty and marketing in the range of 2% to 10%.

So make sure you find this out and invest in a drive-thru franchise that charges this fee on the lower side of the bracket. Royalty fees under 6%, marketing fees under 3% is ideal.

Payback Period

The payback period refers to the time it takes to recoup the initial investment of a franchise.

The lower this period, the sooner you can enjoy profits. So, find out the payback period of the franchise you are interested in using a franchise’s investment and revenue.

Anything under 6 years is good.


Wrap Up

Buying a franchise is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to invest their money in something that has brand value and a customer base already.

This saves them from the groundwork of brand building and avoiding risk to a great extent.

The 10 best Drive-Thru franchises mentioned in this guide are some of the best options that you can find. But make sure you do your individual research before signing up.


FAQ’s

How Much Does A Drive-Thru Franchise Cost?

The cost to own a drive-thru franchise can vary a lot depending on the brand you are interested in investing in. Based on the options shared in this guide, you can expect to spend between $190,650 and $7,228,000 to own a drive-thru franchise.

How Much Can I Make From A Drive-Thru Franchise?

The income that you can generate from a drive-thru franchise depends on the brand you have invested in. On average, however, drive-thru franchise owners easily make several million dollars a year.

Is Drive-Thru Business Profitable?

Yes, there is an increased demand for drive-thru service today. Many restaurants and franchises that have drive-thru see a considerable increase in sales. This tells us that drive-thru businesses are profitable.

Which Is The Cheapest Drive-Thru Franchise To Own?

According to the options in this guide, with an investment range of $190,650 – $446,500, Planet Smoothie is the cheapest drive-thru franchise to own.

What Is The Profit Margin In The Drive-Thru Industry?

The profit margin in the drive-thru industry is usually 10% to 15%. However, this figure could vary depending on the franchise’s location, business model, pricing, etc.

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