, Australia
Marnie Sheldon, CEO, Zarraffa’s Coffee /Zarraffa’s Coffee

Why Zarraffa’s Coffee is steering into the drive-thru only concept

The model allows it to fit into non-traditional sites.

Zarraffa’s Coffee won’t be looking back in the rearview anytime soon as they continue to accelerate their drive-thru-only concept which gained popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a quick catch-up with Zarraffa’s Coffee CEO, Marnie Sheldon said that after all the lessons they learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, one key growth point was how well their drive-thru portion worked.

Marnie said that after deliberations with franchisees, they realised that a drive-thru-only model had the potential to drive Zarraffa’s Coffee’s growth plans through adaptability to more sites whilst lowering their franchise price point and encouraging new franchisee acquisition.

Customer engagement

The idea of the drive-thru-only concept has been mulled over by Zarraffa’s for some time now. However, the concept only took a more solid shape when the pandemic hit. Because of social distancing measures, many of Zarraffa’s cafes and shopfronts were rendered unusable for a time however, Marine said they noticed that drive-thru portions of their coffee shops continue to turn a profit.

This was when they realised that with a smaller footprint, the right layout, and equipment they could change their business model and still maintain growth.

With their drive-thru-only concept, customer engagement for those who demand convenience and are time-poor could still enjoy Zarraffa’s menu whilst on the go.

A lower entry cost option

Another benefit of a drive-thru-only model is it allowed Zarraffa’s to offer a lower entry cost option for franchisees.

“Our drive-thru-only model has the ability to fit on non-traditional land and sites. We are talking to landlords who have carparks, small lots and other lettable possibilities that could house the smaller footprint,” Marnie explained.

Drive-thrus with storefronts are priced around $1m to open, whilst the drive-thru-only model starts from around $600k, making it more affordable for prospective franchisees. The drive-thru-only model is also customisable to some extent. For example,  the Beaudesert store is approximately 90sqm, with 65sqm internal space and has a small outdoor seating capacity. The store has 15 staff serving customers.

“Experience is everything once you have the product right. After 27 years we know coffee and our drive-thru-only stores provide a fantastic opportunity for interaction that focuses on giving our customers their time back, through greater convenience. Our walk-up and drive-thru windows are still our connection points to our customers with all our team members building daily relationships – big and small – with our locals,” Marnie said.

Marnie said that Zarraffa’s Coffee has plans to open another 60 stores before the end of 2026, with the drive-thru-only concepts leading the way for the coffee company's strategic growth over the next four years.

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