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How to Start a Drive Thru Liquor Store

A Drive-Thru Liquor Store is a type of retail store where customers can purchase alcoholic beverages without leaving their vehicle.

Customers can drive up to a designated area or window and place an order for beer, wine, spirits, or other alcoholic drinks, which are then brought to their car. The store typically has a selection of beverages on display or in coolers that customers can choose from.

The market size of the liquor store industry in the United States was approximately $54.6 billion in revenue according to IBISWorld. The industry has experienced steady growth over the past decade, driven by factors such as increasing per capita alcohol consumption, higher disposable income, and the popularity of craft and premium spirits.

Steps on How to Start a Drive-Thru Liquor Store

  1. Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research is an essential step in determining whether there is demand for a drive-thru liquor store in a particular area. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Define your target market: Identify the demographics of the people who are most likely to buy alcohol from a drive-thru liquor store. This may include age, gender, income level, and other factors.
  • Determine the location: Look at the demographics of the area where you plan to open the store, such as population density, income levels, and competition. A location with high traffic flow, easy access, and good visibility may be ideal.
  • Identify competitors: Research other local liquor stores, including traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, such as product selection, pricing, and customer service.
  • Analyze customer behavior: Conduct surveys or interviews to understand how often potential customers purchase alcohol, their preferred types of alcohol, and their reasons for choosing a drive-thru liquor store over other options.
  • Estimate demand: Use the data collected from your research to estimate the potential demand for a drive-thru liquor store in the area, and determine the amount of revenue that could be generated.
  • Develop a marketing plan: Based on your research findings, develop a marketing plan to reach potential customers and drive sales. This may include advertising, promotions, and partnerships with other businesses in the area.
a. Who is the Target Market for Drive Thru Liquor Store?

Convenience stores cater to all clients in the region who wish to make purchases, but they are particularly attentive to those who need to do so beyond regular business hours, such as swing shift workers and busy individuals who want to quickly purchase alcohol without having to park their car and walk into a traditional liquor store.

b. Is Drive-Thru Liquor Store a Profitable Business?

Yes, the drive-thru liquor store is quite profitable. The gross margins for your liquor store drive-thru business are typically around 43%.

b. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

No, there are no existing niches when it comes to the drive-thru liquor store business because drive-thru liquor store is a niche idea in the convenience store and retail stores industry.

c. Who are the Major Competitors?

The major competitors for a drive-thru liquor store can vary depending on the location of the store, but generally, they include:

  • Traditional Liquor Stores: These are brick-and-mortar stores that customers can walk into to purchase alcohol. They often have a wide selection of alcohol, including beer, wine, and spirits, and may offer discounts for bulk purchases.
  • Online Retailers: Online retailers like Drizly, Saucey, and others offer delivery services for alcohol, making it convenient for customers to purchase alcohol without leaving their homes. Some of these retailers also offer pickup options.
  • Grocery Stores: Many grocery stores now sell alcohol, including beer, wine, and spirits. Some grocery stores also offer drive-thru services for alcohol.
  • Convenience Stores: Convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Circle K often sell beer and wine, and some have started to sell spirits as well.
  • Bars and Restaurants: Bars and restaurants that offer alcohol for consumption on-premise may also offer take-out or delivery options for customers to purchase alcohol to consume off-premise.
d. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Drive Thru Liquor Store Business?

Yes, there are county and state regulations and zoning laws for drive-thru liquor stores in the United States. The specific laws and regulations can vary depending on the state and county in which the business is located.

Some states prohibit drive-thru liquor stores altogether, while others may have restrictions on the types of alcohol that can be sold or the hours of operation. For example, in Texas, drive-thru liquor stores are legal but must stop selling alcohol by midnight.

In California, drive-thru liquor stores are not allowed, but there are some exceptions for stores established before certain dates.

Additionally, some counties and municipalities may have their own regulations and zoning laws that must be followed. These laws may dictate the location of the business, the size of the sign, and the distance from schools or residential areas.

e. Is There a Franchise for Drive Thru Liquor Store Business?

Yes, there are franchise opportunities for drive-thru liquor stores, and here are some of them;

  • BevMo!
  • Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods
  • Twin Liquors
  • Liquor Barn
  • Total Wine & More
  • ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
  • The Party Source
  • Goody Goody Liquor
  • Liquor Mart
  • Super Liquor Stores.
f. What Do You Need to Start a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • A Feasibility Report
  • Business and Marketing Plans
  • Business Licenses and Permits
  • A Good Store facility
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number)/Federal Tax ID Number.
  • A Corporate Bank Account
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Employees
  • Startup Capital
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with. It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable.

Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a liquor store are;

Creative Liquor Store Business Name ideas
  • Thirst Drive®
  • The Booze Cruise®
  • Drive & Drink®
  • Roadside Spirits™
  • Liquor Lane®
  • Drive-Thru Booze™
  • Auto Bar©
  • Drink & Go®
  • Pit Stop Liquor™
  • Quick Sip®
  • Throttle Spirits™
  • Car Bar©
  • Speedy Spirits®
  • The Liquor Lane®
  • Auto-Shoppe Liquors®
  • Roadhouse Liquors®
  • Drunk & Drive©
  • The Drive-Thru Spirit Co.
  • Vroom & Booze®
  • Drive-Thru Drafts®.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Drive Thru Liquor Store Business?

The truth is that you have several options as it relates to settling for a business structure for a drive-thru liquor store, but the one that most players in this line of business usually consider is an LLC. It is a popular option to consider an LLC because it is the norm for business owners to protect themselves from any lawsuits.

It is important to note that an LLC will need an EIN if it has any employees or if it will be required to file any of the excise tax forms listed below.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • General Business License
  • Health and Safety Permit
  • Liquor License
  • Food and beverage permit
  • Fire safety permits
  • Zonal Permits
  • Signage Permit
  • Operational State Facility Inspections
  • A dumpster placement permit
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?

You do not need any certifications to open a drive-thru liquor store business.

e. What Documents are Needed to Open a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?

The documents required to open a drive-thru liquor store business in the US will vary depending on state and local regulations. However, here are some common documents that are typically required:

  • Business Plan: A comprehensive business plan that outlines the proposed operation of the drive-thru liquor store, including market research, marketing strategy, financial projections, and operational plans.
  • Business Entity Formation Documents: The documents required to establish the legal structure of the business, such as Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization.
  • Federal Tax Identification Number: Also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), this is required to identify the business for tax purposes.
  • State and Local Business Licenses and Permits: This includes the liquor license, business license, and any other permits required by the state or local government.
  • Lease Agreement: A signed lease agreement for the business premises.
  • Health and Safety Permits: Permits related to food and beverage service, fire safety, and zoning.
  • Insurance Policies: Business insurance policies, such as general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and property insurance.
  • Operating Agreement: An agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the owners of the business.
  • Financial Statements: Financial statements that show the financial health of the business, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.
  • Other Legal Documents: Other legal documents that may be required, such as contracts with suppliers, employment agreements, and non-disclosure agreements.
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

By and large, you might not need to register for trademark or intellectual property protection if you are thinking about starting your own drive-thru liquor store business.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?

There is no clear-cut startup cost for a drive-thru liquor store, but available data show that the price of a small to medium-scale drive-thru convenience store can range from $150,000 to over $350,000.

b. What are the Costs Involved in Starting a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business
  • Location: The cost of leasing or buying a suitable location for your drive-thru liquor store can vary significantly depending on the location and the size of the store. You may need to pay rent, security deposits, and other related fees.
  • inventory: The cost of inventory will depend on the size of your store and the types of liquor you plan to sell. You will need to purchase a variety of liquors, beer, and wine, as well as accessories such as glasses, mixers, and other items.
  • Licensing: To operate a liquor store, you will need to obtain a liquor license from your state or local government. The cost of obtaining a license can vary depending on your location and the type of license you require.
  • Equipment: You will need to invest in equipment such as coolers, shelving, cash registers, and other items necessary to run your drive-thru liquor store.
  • Marketing: To attract customers, you will need to invest in marketing and advertising your drive-thru liquor store. This can include signage, flyers, online advertising, and other promotional materials.
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • The size of the drive-thru liquor store
  • The choice of location
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The type of facility
  • The type of products retailed in the drive-thru liquor store and additional services offerings
  • The cost of hiring and paying a business consultant and attorney
  • The cost of branding, promotion, and marketing of the drive-thru liquor store business
  • The cost of furnishing and equipping the drive-thru liquor store
  • The cost of insurance policy covers
  • The cost of registering the business
  • Source of your supplies and ongoing expenses
  • Cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost for the purchase and customizing of uniforms
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

The truth is that building a new facility is not necessary for your drive-thru liquor store business.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of a Drive Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • Supplies (inventory expenses)
  • Utility bills (internet subscriptions, phone bills, signage, and software renewal fees et al)
  • Marketing and Insurance
  • Salaries of employees
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Store Manager (Owner) – $45,000 Per Year
  • Accounting Clerk (Cashier) – $30,630,000 Per Year
  • Sales Boys and Girls – $26,000 Per Year
  • Cleaners – $25,000 Per Year
  • Security Guard -$24,000 Per Year
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from, the government, donor organizations, and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Roadhouse Liquors® is a start-up drive-thru liquor store that aims to provide convenient and high-quality alcoholic beverages to customers. The business is located in a prime location on Inglewood Street, Los Angeles, California, which is a highly trafficked area with easy access to major highways.

We aim to be the premier destination for customers seeking a wide variety of high-quality alcoholic beverages, mixers, and snacks, while also providing an enjoyable and convenient shopping experience. We strive to become a trusted and respected member of the community, building long-term relationships with our customers and contributing to the economic growth of the area.

b. Products and Service

The drive-thru liquor store will offer a wide range of alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits, along with mixers, snacks, and other related products. Our focus is on providing high-quality products at competitive prices, while also ensuring excellent customer service through our experienced and knowledgeable staff.

c. Mission Statement

Our mission is to become the go-to drive-thru liquor store in Los Angeles and to build long-term relationships with our customers by providing a reliable and enjoyable shopping experience.

Vision Statement

Our vision at Roadhouse Liquors® is to create a drive-thru liquor store that is synonymous with convenience, quality, and exceptional customer service.

d. Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives of a drive-thru liquor store business are;

  • Increase Sales
  • Improve Customer Service
  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Expand Inventory
  • Streamline Operations
  • Establish Community Presence
  • Achieve Financial Goals.
e. Organizational Structure
  • Shop Manager (Owner)
  • Accounting Clerk (Cashier)
  • Sale Girls and Sales Boys
  • Cleaners
  • Security Guard

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • A convenient and unique shopping experience
  • Wide selection of high-quality alcoholic beverages
  • Knowledgeable and experienced staff
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Prime location with easy access to major highways.
  • Limited customer base due to age restrictions on purchasing alcohol
  • Potential for theft or other security concerns
  • Dependence on seasonal sales, such as holidays and special events
  • Limited space for inventory storage.
  • Expansion into online sales and delivery services
  • Partnership with local event planners and businesses for bulk orders
  • Offering a loyalty program to encourage repeat customers
  • Introducing new and unique products to attract customers.
  • Competition from other liquor stores and retailers
  • Changing consumer preferences and trends
  • Stringent regulations and licensing requirements for alcohol sales
  • Economic downturns and fluctuations in the market.
b. How Do Drive-Thru Liquor Stores Make Money?

Drive-thru liquor stores make money by selling alcoholic beverages and other related products to their customers. They typically purchase the products from wholesale suppliers at a discounted price and then mark up the prices to make a profit.

In addition to the sale of alcoholic beverages, some drive-thru liquor stores may also generate revenue by selling non-alcoholic products such as mixers, snacks, and tobacco products.

c. Payment Options

Drive-thru liquor stores accept various payment options, including:

  • Cash
  • Credit and Debit Cards
  • Mobile Payments
  • Checks
  • Gift Cards
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Special Promotions: Offer special promotions and discounts on selected products to attract customers. This can include offering a discount on a customer’s first purchase, creating special holiday deals or bundles, or offering discounts for bulk purchases.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program to reward frequent customers. This can be done through a point system, where customers earn points for each purchase that can be redeemed for rewards or discounts on future purchases.
  • Social Media Advertising: Utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to advertise promotions, new products, and store updates. Engage with customers through social media by responding to their comments and questions, and sharing user-generated content.
  • Local Advertising: Use local advertising methods such as print ads, flyers, and billboards to reach potential customers in the surrounding area. This can include advertising in local newspapers or community magazines, distributing flyers in nearby neighborhoods, and placing billboards along major roads and highways.
  • Online Advertising: Consider online advertising through search engines such as Google or social media platforms to reach a wider audience. Utilize targeted ads to reach potential customers based on demographics such as age, location, and interests.
  • Sponsorship: Partner with local events or charities and offer sponsorship. This can include providing beverages for events, creating custom packaging, or featuring the event’s logo on products or advertisements.
  • Excellent Customer Service: Provide excellent customer service to build customer loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth referrals. Hire knowledgeable staff and ensure that the drive-thru process is quick, efficient, and hassle-free.

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your Product/Service?

The type of liquor, the quantity, and the brand of the liquor will determine the amount it will be sold.

b. How Much Profit Do Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business Owners Make a Year?

It depends, but the available report shows that on average, a small to medium-sized drive-thru liquor store business owner can earn anywhere from $60,000 to $160,000.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the drive-thru liquor store
  • The types of products retailed in the shop
  • The location of the drive-thru liquor store
  • The management style of the drive-thru liquor store
  • The business approach of the drive-thru liquor store
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the drive-thru liquor store.
  • The number of years the drive-thru liquor store is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of a Drive Thru Liquor Store?

The profit margin of a drive-thru liquor store is not fixed, but the gross profit margins in the United States are between 15 percent (the lowest margin) and over 50 percent.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?

Below is the sales forecast for a drive-thru liquor store. It is based on the location of the business and other factors as it relates to such startups in the United States.

  • First Fiscal Year: $320,000
  • Second Fiscal Year: $450,000
  • Third Fiscal Year: $540,000
  1. Set Up your Shop/Office

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for Drive Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • The demography of the location especially as it relates to people that purchase liquor on a regular basis
  • The demand for the products offered by drive-thru liquor stores in the location
  • The purchasing power of businesses and the residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of drive-thru liquor stores, and retail outlets in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking, and security et al
b. What State and City is Best to Open a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Brattleboro, Vermont
  • Port Richey, Florida
  • Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Rowland Heights, California
  • East Liverpool, Ohio
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Island Park, New York
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate a Drive-Thru Liquor Store?

The equipment needed to operate a drive-thru liquor store may vary based on the size of the store and the specific products and services offered. However, here are some common equipment and supplies needed to run a drive-thru liquor store:

  • Point of Sale (POS) System: This is a computer system used for managing sales transactions and inventory. It typically includes a cash register, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and credit/debit card reader.
  • Shelving and Display Cases: These are used to store and display products such as wine, beer, and liquor bottles. They may be wall-mounted or free-standing.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers: These are used to store products that need to be kept cold, such as beer, wine coolers, and soft drinks.
  • Drive-Thru Windows and Speakers: These are used to facilitate drive-thru transactions. They typically include a speaker and microphone system, as well as a window through which customers can make their purchases.
  • Security Equipment: This can include cameras, alarms, and security systems to prevent theft and ensure the safety of customers and employees.
  • Office Equipment: This can include a computer, printer, fax machine, and phone system.
  1. Hire Employees

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard drive-thru liquor store, you should make plans to hire a competent shop manager (you can occupy this position), account clerk (cashier), sales boys and sales girls, cleaners, and security guard.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

These days, no drive-thru liquor store opens its doors for operation without first planning an opening party to formally open the business. If you have a limited budget, you may want to host a soft opening party. If not, you may want to host a grand opening party for everyone at the location where your drive-thru liquor store will be.

a. What Makes a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business Successful?
  • Choose a good location and facility to launch the business
  • Make sure your drive-thru liquor store is well stocked with different types of goods (give your customers options)
  • Throw an open house grand party before officially opening the business
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your drive-thru liquor store business
  • Leverage all available online and offline platforms to promote your drive-thru liquor store business
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a Drive-Thru Liquor Store?
  • The store is opened, cleaned, and arranged
  • Previously sold goods are restocked
  • The goods are properly cleaned and arranged or displayed
  • The drive-thru liquor store is then opened for business
  • When customers drive-thru, they are attended to and the product they are looking for is sold to them.
  • The store is closed for the day and accounts are balanced and the workers go home hoping to resume the next day.
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a Drive-Thru Liquor Store Business?
  • Excellent customer services skills
  • Interpersonal skill
  • Accounting and bookkeeping skills
  • Business management skills
  • Bargaining skill
  • Work experience in a retail environment
  • Experience in managing people
  • Experience in business administration
  • Experience in identifying liquors and other alcoholic drinks that are fast selling
  • Experience in handling different types of retail software.