Do you want to start a drive thru business but want to go niche and be unique? If YES, here are 50 best drive thru related business ideas / opportunities for 2018.
A drive-through, or drive-thru, is a type of service provided by a business that allows customers to purchase products without leaving their cars. The drive-thru business format was first pioneered in the United States in the 1930s by Jordan Martin. Because of its ready acceptance, the concept wasted no time in getting spread to other countries.
Drive-through businesses are all about fast food, fast service and fast company, and the concept helps consumers to get whatever they want in a very short time, all without leaving their rides. It may have started off with motorists picking up a bite on the way to work or grabbing a snack between destinations, but the drive-thru business has expanded far beyond the restaurant industry.
Rising product and service prices have not put a damper on the convenience of the drive-thru business as industries have now wholly embraced the concept. You may even get to see stranger drive-thru businesses like an auto-friendly art gallery and a wedding chapel for drivers.
The benefit of the drive thru business is that moms don’t have to wake the baby to come into the store and those that have mobility challenges can stay in their cars. It is also great for customers that are in the go and don’t require any of the other services or products that are offered inside the store.
If you want to open a business that has a drive-thru concept and you are looking for some ideas, we have listed some great drive-thru business ideas here for you to make your choice.
22 Best Drive Thru Business ideas for 2018
- Liquor Store Drive-Thru business
While there is a prohibition on drinking and driving, but entrepreneurs have given that law a whole new meaning by enabling motorists buy their drinks while on the go. With the liquor store drive-thru business, people can now buy drinks without even leaving their cars.
Purchasing liquor at a drive-thru has become a common concept throughout the United States, although it is not legal in every state. To set up this business, you have to first ensure that your state has no rules against it, and the location you plan to set up is equally a free zone.
To maximize this business, you need to make sure that you site your drive-thrus in places where people are prone to buy beer and liquor on the go. Though these stores may have created some controversies in the past as people claim that liquor drive-thrus make it easier for people to drink and drive, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t make good profits from the business.
Drive-thru coffee is almost like an automatic cash machine because almost everyone loves fast, convenient coffee. This is one of the most viable drive-thru businesses you can start. To start off, you have to research the coffee industry and learn the difference between its basic and upscale offerings. Decide whether your drive-thru will offer inexpensive, basic fare or more sophisticated drinks.
You also have to decide whether you will buy an existing franchise or build your shop from scratch. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just your menu items, gourmet pastries, or fancy drinks that create success—it’s how you run your store from the inside out.
Opening a drive-thru coffee shop requires a smaller initial investment than opening a larger shop, but the cost is still significant. The price for opening a drive-thru varies from $35,000 for a small operation and up to $80,000 and up for a larger business
One other business that has entered the drive-thru scene is the Laundromat. Here, you only need to drive up to a Laundromat window, drop off your laundry, and then drive through much later to pick them up. Another version of this business would be the car—hop service, where you simply park your car and a staff comes to you to take your laundry and details.
Starting a drive-through Laundromat doesn’t require a great deal of business experience or knowledge. It does, however, require a good location and a fairly substantial capital investment to establish the business. In terms of a business location, the drive-through Laundromat should ideally be established on a busy road, but not one so congested with traffic that entering and exiting is a problem or potentially dangerous
Street visibility, accessibility for walk-in customers, parking and overall building condition and appearance are also important. In addition to providing customers with a drive-through service, also provide a walk-in and laundry drop-off service as well as a free pickup and delivery service.
Sure, funerals can be uncomfortable and viewings are sometimes creepy for some people. That is essentially what informed the funeral drive-thru business. Here, drivers or mourners are required to pull up at the funeral parlor window to view the deceased.
When drivers pull up to the window, a motion sensor draws back the curtains allowing mourners to pay their final respects to their loved one. The idea is said to serve the masses, and the concept is said to work well for public figures.
A funeral drive-thru business can only work in a situation where one already owns a funeral business, so that means the concept is just a way of diversifying the business. The cost of setting up a funeral drive-thru is usually not much as you already have the basics in place. You just have to ensure that the business is allowed in your state.
- Open a drive-thru clinic
Since there are drive-thru funeral homes for the dead, there are also drive-thru clinics for the living. Drive-thru clinics allow patients to drive up to the location and stay in their cars while they are being examined by doctors.
The drive-through option originated in 2004 during the SARS epidemic. The idea was to allow physicians to see as many patients as possible without risking the spread of infectious disease to others.
During the test run which was held at Stanford Hospital, they found that the average time it took for physicians to visit a patient in the drive-through option was 26 minutes, whereas the average time for a standard hospital visit was 90 minutes. Patients are referred if something significant is wrong with them.
- Drive-thru wedding chapel
A drive-thru wedding chapel may sound far-fetched, but it’s a concept that is very much alive in places like Las Vegas. The very first drive-thru wedding chapel started when the owner wanted an option that would accommodate handicapped couples.
From accommodating handicapped couples, the concept became for everyone and it started spreading. What clients need to get a drive-thru wedding is a witness and a little cash. In fact, the witness part can be skipped as the chapel tends to provide all that.
If you are interested to own a drive-thru wedding chapel, you first of all have to make sure that it is allowed in your location, then you get the business registered so you can be able to issue license.
- Drive-thru art gallery
People can now stop by an art gallery whenever they start feeling artsy, and this is without leaving their vehicles. This concept is typically used in exhibitions where people are required to pay a gate fee before they can be allowed to drive into the premises where they can view the various arts on display while they drive around.
But today, an entrepreneur can set up a drive-thru art gallery full time where people can drive up to view the arts on display after paying some gate fee. You may need more than a few people to run this business as you would need your staff in strategic locations in case someone wants to make a purchase.
You can add some perks to your drive-thru art gallery so that it would encourage people to come around often. In Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art teamed up with RoJo’s Car Wash to deliver a drive thru art gallery with the added perks of a car wash.
While this may be an unconventional business, but trust me, there are drive -thru sex shops. One drawback with setting up a drive-thru sex shop is that a lot of states may not approve of it, and even when it is approved, setting it up would require a lot of papers and processes.
For example, Alabama has an existing anti-obscenity law. This law places a ban on sex toys, and customers can only access these products if they need it for medical, scientific or educational purposes. So customers would be required to fill out a medical questionnaire describing the health reasons behind their purchases.
There was a drive-thru in Pennsylvania that offered adult entertainment through a diamond shaped peephole. Though the business closed down when the owner died, but such a business can still fly if located in an appropriate location. If you intend opening such a drive-thru, you may have to battle local laws, but if one person was able to do it, there is no reason why others can’t.
With thousands of customers pawning small items as well as paying monthly interest charges on a daily basis, it makes a whole lot of sense to offer them the convenience of a drive-thru business. Quite a number of people have set up drive-thru pawn shops and have made quite a success out of it.
If you already have a pawn shop, you can just construct a window where your customers who are in a hurry can drive through to conduct their business. A drive-thru pawn shop does not require extra expenses to run it as the majority of the business had already been up and running, though you may have to employ an extra staff to man the window.
Your drive-thru store would offer services like receiving payments, checking out none time consuming items, and other minor tasks that would take no time at all so the lines would not be long and defeat the intents of the business.
- Dive-thru library
The library is another business that has the drive-thru option. Patrons typically transact their services in open library drive-thru windows. While the Drive-thru library may not be able to stand alone for now just like the coffee store drive-thru, it still helps tremendously when running the library business.
The library drive-thru is intended to provide as many library services as possible as time permits. This includes, but is not limited to returning library materials, requesting library materials, checking out library materials, paying library card fines, doing faxes and copies etc.
For larger faxes, copies, or other services that may take a longer time, patrons may be told to pull around and come back through the drive-thru if someone pulls in behind them. They may also be told that they can return in 30 minutes to pick up their fax, copies, etc.
The book return window is usually operational any time of day or night. When returning books or other library materials in the drive-thru book return, the items are deposited directly into the building, safe from the elements.
Drive-thru pharmacy services have become a widely recognized service worldwide. The service is not much different from walking up to the pharmacy counter inside the store. You can drop off prescriptions, pick up prescriptions and receive counseling through a drive-thru window. One difference is that the transaction is done over a phone to afford some privacy.
There are some transactions that can only be done inside the store for legal requirements, but asides that, you can conveniently use the drive-thru pharmacy. One good thing about the drive-thru pharmacy is that it can be operated alone, though the pharmacy should also have an option for going to the counter.
It should be noted that most patrons frown at the drive-thru pharmacy because it takes much more time than your average MacDonald’s. This is because patients need to drop off their prescription, or the prescription would get called in, then it has to be verified and filled before the customer can be handed the drugs.
A savvy pharmacist can carve a niche for his or her business by working out a procedure that simplifies this process.
- Drive-through banking
In 1928, the City Center Bank which became UMB Financial Corporation opened what is considered the first drive-up banking window. This was in fact the birth of the modern day drive-through banking business as we have it now. Many people withdraw or deposit money these days by using the drive-through windows at a bank.
They drive up to the bank, transact their business with the teller who is usually behind a bulletproof glass, receipts are issues after the transaction and the customer drives off; easy. Drive-through banking usually offer services like deposits and withdrawals as any other thing can be time consuming and defeat the purposes of the fast drive through service. This is one of the ways bankers can offer easy services to their customers.
- Sell and install drive-through equipment
Drive through businesses require special equipment to set up their stores in order to make it fast and efficient for their customers. A savvy entrepreneur can set up a business that stocks these equipment, and also help their customers to install them.
Because of all the heavy and financially involving equipment one would deal with in this business, the business person would have to be financially comfortable or should be able to access some heavy loans before attempting to start this business.
You may have to specialize in a particular industry so you can be able to specialize. Location might not be a problem in this business, but you would need to have great marketing skills in order to get people to know about the business.
Whether you are filling up, getting a snack or stopping because someone really has to use the facilities, gas stations are indeed some very useful places we can’t do without, and the idea of a gas station drive-thru where someone else has to do all the work for you gives some people a lot of kick.
A lot of gas stations today have adopted the idea of a drive-thru and are really raking up some good market share from it especially at odd hours where people can’t be bothered to get out of their cars; though some people frown at the idea of a drive-thru gas station claiming that it makes people lazy.
Car washing is another business that is doing great as a drive through. Many people would gladly stop over a drive-thru car wash on their way to work or an engagement and just drive their car through the wash and come out with a sparkling automobile on the other side.
Setting up this business is quite easy and you may not have a lot of problems with getting the required permits. You only have to buy car washing equipment and set up your own automatic car wash.
Customers can pay into a coin or bill machine so there’s no need for an attendant to be on duty. They will be directed by signs and colored lights as to when to drive in, when to stop the car and when to exit. Most car washing systems offer a choice of express washes to rust control treatment. You would also need to post an emergency phone number in case there is a problem with the equipment.
Convenience stores are also quite smitten with the drive through idea, and an entrepreneur can conveniently open a convenience store that runs strictly drive-thru service. Here, customers would be place their orders by phone or the Internet and pay by credit card, then arrange a time to pick up their groceries. They would drive up in their cars, put their groceries in their trunks and be on their way. This service is indeed a great time saver and a great help to disabled people.
Americans are greatly receptive of the drive-thru convenience store business idea, and are always eager to use the service.
A drive-in theater or drive-in cinema is a form of cinema structure consisting of a large outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, a concession stand and a large parking area for automobiles. Within this enclosed area, customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their cars. Some drive-ins have small playgrounds for children and a few picnic tables or benches.
Though drive-in theaters seem to be losing popularity, but nothing says that if the business is located in a good location that it would not bring in customers. Americans are outdoorsy by nature, and despite the prevalence of Netflix and cinemas, more than a few would still prefer the novelty off outdoor cinemas.
- Drive-through photo processing studio
Photographic processing or development is the chemical means by which photographic film or paper is treated after photographic exposure to produce a negative or positive image. Photographic processing transforms the latent image into a visible image, makes this permanent and renders it insensitive to light.
In this era where people want things done quickly, a drive-thru photo processing studio would indeed be a great idea. Customers would only be required to drive to your window, drop off their film, get it registered and get going. They would then need to come back afterwards for the finished product. It is interesting to note that you would not need to break the bank to start this business.
- Drive-through dairy store
Looking for a quick cup of coffee? Need a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread or a bag of potatoes? Then the dairy store drive-thru is your answer. Dairy stores have been serving consumer needs for decades now, and it is one great drive-thru business an entrepreneur can start because of the need it solves in the community.
This business can be started on a small scale in your community and you sure would get enough customers through your doors to keep the business profitable. This is because dairy stores sell everyday essentials that people cannot do without.
- Ice cream and frozen yogurt drive-thru
Anyone with a sweet tooth would likely be a regular patron of ice cream and frozen yogurt drive thrus, and a lot of Americans have a sweet tooth. Ice cream is a sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. It is usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavors.
Ice cream and frozen yogurt business have carved a comfortable niche in the drive-thru business and an entrepreneur can comfortably set up this business in any location and make good profits from it; though know that your ice cream and frozen yogurt drive-thru would likely thrive more where there is good human and vehicular traffic like school areas, malls etc.
- Voting Poll Drive-Thru business
People have always been known to be lazy when it comes to voting, and they need extra motivation to go out and cast the ballot. To make voting even simpler than it is with an absentee ballot, there is a concept known as drive-thru voting.
The voting machines used here are engineered to meet disability requirements so voters can cast their ballots without leaving their vehicles. Though this may be a seasonal business, but no rule says that you cannot take advantage of it while it lasts.
You may have to apply with your state government and meet rigorous screening processes before you are considered for this business, and you have to note that you would be paid by the government for your services.