Apology for post on "free" consultation on start-up coffee drive-thru

I'd like to apologize for last week's naive request for free consulting for starting up a coffee drive-thru. I didn't think through it and how it would come across to the readers, especially owners. As one comment stated "Time and knowledge is money".  I understand fully how many of you have worked too hard to give away your info on an on-going basis for free. I'm still seeking some guideance on how to open and operate a successful drive-thru. I have purchased the books "Opening a Specialty Coffee Drive-Thru" by Ed Arvidson and "Bean Business Basics". Along with hiring a consultant, any other suggestions?

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Consider the advice you've already received on your other topic about barista training schools. While you're at it... consider revisiting that discussion to acknowledge those that spent time answering your question. You got quite a few good answers there, and I see no evidence that you even read them. The advice may be free, but a little "thank you" is nice.

 

On the current question, spend a couple of hours digging through past discussions here. It seems like someone asks for advice on how to start a coffee related business at least monthly. Just about every regular has contributed to one of these discussions several times already over the past couple of years, so if you dig you'll find a huge wealth of knowledge. This includes some drive-thru specific suggestions.

 

Its all there. Go dig.

Make sure your "consultant" has vast experience with successful drive-thru coffee businesses.  They are a whole different animal.  Good luck.
I am grateful of all the advice received so far. My apology infers that I do respect and am thankful of people's opinions. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written it. I guess I need to be more explicit. I did read the few responses that offered some advice. I just thought I'd give another opportunity for others who hadn't read the post yet, to respond. Thank you for your input.  I do appreciate it.  

Brady said:

Consider the advice you've already received on your other topic about barista training schools. While you're at it... consider revisiting that discussion to acknowledge those that spent time answering your question. You got quite a few good answers there, and I see no evidence that you even read them. The advice may be free, but a little "thank you" is nice.

 

On the current question, spend a couple of hours digging through past discussions here. It seems like someone asks for advice on how to start a coffee related business at least monthly. Just about every regular has contributed to one of these discussions several times already over the past couple of years, so if you dig you'll find a huge wealth of knowledge. This includes some drive-thru specific suggestions.

 

Its all there. Go dig.

I would second what Brady posted, there has been a lot of posts already giving you direction. There has also been considerable mention to business/management practices already on this board as well as coffeed.com.

 

I feel the "time and knowledge is money" comment may be a little harsh because we all start off at zero and develop ourselves with the help of MANY generous employers, coworkers and professionals from other industries. I can sympathize with Matt that no one is going to take you by the hand and establish your business without compensation/partial ownership. However, I don't believe that you were looking for that. 

 

Try explaining where you are at now, what problems you are currently facing and posting a question to your fellow baristaexchange members.

 

Just like in school, you need to do the readings so you are prepared to ask the right questions and actually learn from the teacher, which is typically more than, or to supplement what the books have to say. I do not have a lot of time as my business and family take up most of it, but information is free, period. However, knowledge can only be paid in sweat, yours. If not sweat, then blood.

 

Do your homework, then ask questions.

 

Troy

Sorry, should have been more clear. I was referring specifically to last fall's discussion here. You got 8 good replies there and never said a word in response at that point. I appreciate what you've said here today, but people not following up on discussions after people take time to help out is a pet peeve of mine.


Mystic Brew said:

I am grateful of all the advice received so far. My apology infers that I do respect and am thankful of people's opinions. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written it. I guess I need to be more explicit. I did read the few responses that offered some advice. I just thought I'd give another opportunity for others who hadn't read the post yet, to respond. Thank you for your input.  I do appreciate it.  

Brady said:

Consider the advice you've already received on your other topic about barista training schools. While you're at it... consider revisiting that discussion to acknowledge those that spent time answering your question. You got quite a few good answers there, and I see no evidence that you even read them. The advice may be free, but a little "thank you" is nice.

 

On the current question, spend a couple of hours digging through past discussions here. It seems like someone asks for advice on how to start a coffee related business at least monthly. Just about every regular has contributed to one of these discussions several times already over the past couple of years, so if you dig you'll find a huge wealth of knowledge. This includes some drive-thru specific suggestions.

 

Its all there. Go dig.

I appreciate your comment.  I don't check baristaexchange everyday. I didn't have the right parameters set up (which I thought I did) to get emails sent directly to my address.  So when I didn't get any emails from baristaexchange, I wrongly assumed that no one wanted to respond. I've learned my lesson to check on a daily basis, especially after I posted a question/request.

Brady said:

Sorry, should have been more clear. I was referring specifically to last fall's discussion here. You got 8 good replies there and never said a word in response at that point. I appreciate what you've said here today, but people not following up on discussions after people take time to help out is a pet peeve of mine.


Mystic Brew said:

I am grateful of all the advice received so far. My apology infers that I do respect and am thankful of people's opinions. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written it. I guess I need to be more explicit. I did read the few responses that offered some advice. I just thought I'd give another opportunity for others who hadn't read the post yet, to respond. Thank you for your input.  I do appreciate it.  

Brady said:

Consider the advice you've already received on your other topic about barista training schools. While you're at it... consider revisiting that discussion to acknowledge those that spent time answering your question. You got quite a few good answers there, and I see no evidence that you even read them. The advice may be free, but a little "thank you" is nice.

 

On the current question, spend a couple of hours digging through past discussions here. It seems like someone asks for advice on how to start a coffee related business at least monthly. Just about every regular has contributed to one of these discussions several times already over the past couple of years, so if you dig you'll find a huge wealth of knowledge. This includes some drive-thru specific suggestions.

 

Its all there. Go dig.

You are absolutely right that at some point I will have to invest "blood, sweat, and tears", which is the best learning tool there is.  I'm about two years out before I take the plunge. I have done some homework and research. My concern is being able to cover all my bases. In other words, is there a checklist out there for operating a coffee drive-thru/coffee shop that addresses all the pertinent issues for opening this type of business (i.e. legal, health codes, maintenance, insurance, etc.) so I'm not caught off guard and have something come up that sinks my business? A timeline list would also be helpful. If this asking too much, I will seek advice elswhere. I'm not wanting to offend any more people than I already have.

Troy L Mallett said:

I would second what Brady posted, there has been a lot of posts already giving you direction. There has also been considerable mention to business/management practices already on this board as well as coffeed.com.

 

I feel the "time and knowledge is money" comment may be a little harsh because we all start off at zero and develop ourselves with the help of MANY generous employers, coworkers and professionals from other industries. I can sympathize with Matt that no one is going to take you by the hand and establish your business without compensation/partial ownership. However, I don't believe that you were looking for that. 

 

Try explaining where you are at now, what problems you are currently facing and posting a question to your fellow baristaexchange members.

 

Just like in school, you need to do the readings so you are prepared to ask the right questions and actually learn from the teacher, which is typically more than, or to supplement what the books have to say. I do not have a lot of time as my business and family take up most of it, but information is free, period. However, knowledge can only be paid in sweat, yours. If not sweat, then blood.

 

Do your homework, then ask questions.

 

Troy

Sounds like a really good approach. The question of "what am I missing?" is a huge one, and one that lots of people miss. You're smart to be asking it now, and to be starting at a reasonable amount of time ahead of your hopeful open date.

 

I think you'll find that many people will be happy to help answer specific questions like this. Ultimately, I think we all want to see a world where we all are making outstanding coffee and having our businesses succeed in the process... and lots of us put time in here to help make that happen. We all get to learn something in the process too.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what people say about this checklist. I think it would be a useful thing for lots of people in your position, but don't think I've seen an all-inclusive one before. I don't have one... the one we used was kinda brainstormed, surely incomplete, handwritten, and lost years ago. I bet its covered in one of the schools, like ABC. Anyone have one they'd be willing to share?

 

Best of luck.


Mystic Brew said:

You are absolutely right that at some point I will have to invest "blood, sweat, and tears", which is the best learning tool there is.  I'm about two years out before I take the plunge. I have done some homework and research. My concern is being able to cover all my bases. In other words, is there a checklist out there for operating a coffee drive-thru/coffee shop that addresses all the pertinent issues for opening this type of business (i.e. legal, health codes, maintenance, insurance, etc.) so I'm not caught off guard and have something come up that sinks my business? A timeline list would also be helpful. If this asking too much, I will seek advice elswhere. I'm not wanting to offend any more people than I already have.

Troy L Mallett said:

I would second what Brady posted, there has been a lot of posts already giving you direction. There has also been considerable mention to business/management practices already on this board as well as coffeed.com.

 

I feel the "time and knowledge is money" comment may be a little harsh because we all start off at zero and develop ourselves with the help of MANY generous employers, coworkers and professionals from other industries. I can sympathize with Matt that no one is going to take you by the hand and establish your business without compensation/partial ownership. However, I don't believe that you were looking for that. 

 

Try explaining where you are at now, what problems you are currently facing and posting a question to your fellow baristaexchange members.

 

Just like in school, you need to do the readings so you are prepared to ask the right questions and actually learn from the teacher, which is typically more than, or to supplement what the books have to say. I do not have a lot of time as my business and family take up most of it, but information is free, period. However, knowledge can only be paid in sweat, yours. If not sweat, then blood.

 

Do your homework, then ask questions.

 

Troy

I couldn't imagine the amount of work and the high degree of knowledge that would go into making a business startup checklist. So much is simply done through, "Oh, I have a problem. What can I do to fix it?". There are innumerable situations you will find yourself in that can possibly sink you, and that is the risk of owning a business. And thankfully, many legal matters will give you plenty of time to sort through. It is the every day problems that will test your will and ingenuity (You are busy with the morning rush and water starts pouring out of the bottom of your espresso machine. What would you do?) 

 

I guess, the first thing you need to think about is your business structure. Are you going to be a sole-proprietor, partnership or a corporation? That will have a HUGELY MASSIVE influence on a great number of things, such as licensing, taxes, liability to purveyors, insurance, and loan/grant availability.

 

Second, write out your menu. Make sure to not make it 'the ultimate menu to end all' but something as small and effective as imaginably/analytically profitable. This will in turn drive what equipment you will need. If you are planning on serving predominantly espresso drinks, you will need a quality machine, at least one quality grinder (another if serving decaf), a fridge, filtration, and small wares. It is VERY important to have your menu concept finished before starting to buy equipment because it is easy to go broke before opening your doors with several "I will use this at some point" purchases. It is typically equipment, insurance and rent that will be the first non-negotiable expenses you will incur, and possibly need a loan for. Pick your battles/needs very, VERY carefully. Less is more. Consider who you will be getting your supplies from, your purveyors. Who will you be buying coffee from, other beverages, pastries, etc. They will have an incentive to help you if you are going to be continually giving them money.

 

Third, take a bookkeeping course at a community college. This is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Even with an accountant and lawyer (both of which you will need, sooner or later) having a solid understanding of how both accountants, lawyers, banks, and the government will want your financial records kept will save your business in numerous ways. Also, with the help of a POS system (future investment) you will be able to track sales trends, forcast expenses and cash flow, and understand your break-even point.

 

From here, start drafting your business plan. Depending on where your money is coming from, you may need this to get some. Along with your business plan, talk to your health department about what you will need to get the proper permits. Also talk to the municiple government about what you are doing, they will tell you if there are any other hoops to jump through.

 

Finally, congratulate yourself every morning for doing what you want to be doing. Being the boss is a generally thankless job, but the rewards/experience is priceless.

 

That will take you a couple months.

 

T

You gave me a lot of words of wisdom and instruction that I TRULY appreciate.  I know that there are an incalculable number of scenarios that can sink my business on a day-to-day basis. I was just looking for a rough outline to start with that will give me a good footing.  You definately provided me with some key info that will assist me in setting up my business.

I'm looking at an incorporating as an LLC, due to liability and tax issues. Your "less is more" comment resonated with me because I know with a independent coffee drive-thru, being frugal is what I believe will keep my business afloat.

My menu will be simple and short, focusing on the most popular drinks that cover a broad range of tastes. I will provide homemade cinnamon rolls to hopefully draw more people in and set me apart from other competitors. 

Funny you mention bookkeeping.  I was thinking taking a class this fall on exactly that. You must be reading my mind.  I'm also planning on having an outside consultant that specializes in coffee shop/drive-thru business plans (ABC or Alex Finsenko).  I'm willing to invest in a POS system NOW, because I know I'll need it eventually and it will help me organize my business. 

Thanks again for your input.  

Troy L Mallett said:

I couldn't imagine the amount of work and the high degree of knowledge that would go into making a business startup checklist. So much is simply done through, "Oh, I have a problem. What can I do to fix it?". There are innumerable situations you will find yourself in that can possibly sink you, and that is the risk of owning a business. And thankfully, many legal matters will give you plenty of time to sort through. It is the every day problems that will test your will and ingenuity (You are busy with the morning rush and water starts pouring out of the bottom of your espresso machine. What would you do?) 

 

I guess, the first thing you need to think about is your business structure. Are you going to be a sole-proprietor, partnership or a corporation? That will have a HUGELY MASSIVE influence on a great number of things, such as licensing, taxes, liability to purveyors, insurance, and loan/grant availability.

 

Second, write out your menu. Make sure to not make it 'the ultimate menu to end all' but something as small and effective as imaginably/analytically profitable. This will in turn drive what equipment you will need. If you are planning on serving predominantly espresso drinks, you will need a quality machine, at least one quality grinder (another if serving decaf), a fridge, filtration, and small wares. It is VERY important to have your menu concept finished before starting to buy equipment because it is easy to go broke before opening your doors with several "I will use this at some point" purchases. It is typically equipment, insurance and rent that will be the first non-negotiable expenses you will incur, and possibly need a loan for. Pick your battles/needs very, VERY carefully. Less is more. Consider who you will be getting your supplies from, your purveyors. Who will you be buying coffee from, other beverages, pastries, etc. They will have an incentive to help you if you are going to be continually giving them money.

 

Third, take a bookkeeping course at a community college. This is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Even with an accountant and lawyer (both of which you will need, sooner or later) having a solid understanding of how both accountants, lawyers, banks, and the government will want your financial records kept will save your business in numerous ways. Also, with the help of a POS system (future investment) you will be able to track sales trends, forcast expenses and cash flow, and understand your break-even point.

 

From here, start drafting your business plan. Depending on where your money is coming from, you may need this to get some. Along with your business plan, talk to your health department about what you will need to get the proper permits. Also talk to the municiple government about what you are doing, they will tell you if there are any other hoops to jump through.

 

Finally, congratulate yourself every morning for doing what you want to be doing. Being the boss is a generally thankless job, but the rewards/experience is priceless.

 

That will take you a couple months.

 

T

I don't know where you are located, but I agree on the LLC direction.

 

OWN POS sounds like a good product. However I have only used PixelPointPOS because I have a full on restaurant. I would never, ever recommend PixelPoint. Do your research wisely, as a POS system will cost around $10,000. Remember my comment on things "I'll need it eventually". Besides, unless you are going to have employees, a simple register with the buttons properly programmed with do the same thing for a lot less money. The main things you will need to know on a daily basis is what is selling, how much did you sell of it, how much money did you make (or loose) and how much will you have to remit in taxes. A register should be able to tell you all of that.

 

If you want to sell your own cinnamon buns, they will have to be made in a commercial kitchen. There are many ways of renting out a commercial space for a couple hours a week to get your product made. Or you can commission a bakery to make your product for you under your specifications. Or you can simply buy a really great product at a wholesale price and charge accordingly. 

Just wanted to say thanks for all of that.

Troy L Mallett said:

I couldn't imagine the amount of work and the high degree of knowledge that would go into making a business startup checklist. So much is simply done through, "Oh, I have a problem. What can I do to fix it?". There are innumerable situations you will find yourself in that can possibly sink you, and that is the risk of owning a business. And thankfully, many legal matters will give you plenty of time to sort through. It is the every day problems that will test your will and ingenuity (You are busy with the morning rush and water starts pouring out of the bottom of your espresso machine. What would you do?) 

 

I guess, the first thing you need to think about is your business structure. Are you going to be a sole-proprietor, partnership or a corporation? That will have a HUGELY MASSIVE influence on a great number of things, such as licensing, taxes, liability to purveyors, insurance, and loan/grant availability.

 

Second, write out your menu. Make sure to not make it 'the ultimate menu to end all' but something as small and effective as imaginably/analytically profitable. This will in turn drive what equipment you will need. If you are planning on serving predominantly espresso drinks, you will need a quality machine, at least one quality grinder (another if serving decaf), a fridge, filtration, and small wares. It is VERY important to have your menu concept finished before starting to buy equipment because it is easy to go broke before opening your doors with several "I will use this at some point" purchases. It is typically equipment, insurance and rent that will be the first non-negotiable expenses you will incur, and possibly need a loan for. Pick your battles/needs very, VERY carefully. Less is more. Consider who you will be getting your supplies from, your purveyors. Who will you be buying coffee from, other beverages, pastries, etc. They will have an incentive to help you if you are going to be continually giving them money.

 

Third, take a bookkeeping course at a community college. This is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Even with an accountant and lawyer (both of which you will need, sooner or later) having a solid understanding of how both accountants, lawyers, banks, and the government will want your financial records kept will save your business in numerous ways. Also, with the help of a POS system (future investment) you will be able to track sales trends, forcast expenses and cash flow, and understand your break-even point.

 

From here, start drafting your business plan. Depending on where your money is coming from, you may need this to get some. Along with your business plan, talk to your health department about what you will need to get the proper permits. Also talk to the municiple government about what you are doing, they will tell you if there are any other hoops to jump through.

 

Finally, congratulate yourself every morning for doing what you want to be doing. Being the boss is a generally thankless job, but the rewards/experience is priceless.

 

That will take you a couple months.

 

T

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