Starbucks Will Add Drive-Thru Lanes to 80 Percent of Stores

After disappointing revenues, the company is looking to change the way they do business.

by Raz Robinson

Soon, you won’t have to stand behind someone grabbing a half-caff-skim-no-foam-latte-with-a-caramel-drizzle or whatever ungodly coffee abomination they order in the morning, as Starbucks, taking a cue from the success of Dunkin’ Donuts, recently announced that they’ll add a drive-thru lane to 80 percent of their locations.

This comes after a rough week for the coffee chain, which became the subject of national outcry fire after police arrested two black men who were killing time before a friend arrived at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Since the incident, protestors have ben boycotting the brand and shutting down various locations.

The push for a drive-thru is not about #BoycottStarbucks though. To compete with the drive-thru elites like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds, the cafe chain needs to up their in-car service game. The chain not only has far fewer drive-thrus than morning coffee competitors, but the drive-thru service is much slower. In fact, a report in Bloomberg noted that the franchise takes close to four and a half minutes per drive-through transaction compared to Dunkin’ Donuts which gets each transaction down to an average of almost three minutes.

The head of Dunkin’ Donuts pointed out in an interview with QSR Magazine that more than half of Dunkin’ Donuts locations have drive-thrus and those that do have a 23 percent higher sales volume per location. The same goes for Starbucks — at locations where they have drive-thrus, close to 70 percent of the business is in-car. That’s the kind of revenue boost that the coffee giant needs. Not just because of the PR nightmare that’s looming over the company right now, but because, according to the same Bloomberg report, revenues from eight out of the last nine quarters have let down analysts.

The sales slump doesn’t mean the coffee giant is in danger; it just means they’ll be pivoting to a different business model. Drive-thru seems to be the best around.