Perhaps no one understands the true potential of the Ziggi’s Coffee mission to provide a convenient and superior cup of coffee with reliable service quite like the brand’s Director of Marketing, Kathryn Bleeker. For that particular customer, Ziggi’s didn’t just inspire a loyal guest, but also a longtime employee.
“I started as a customer first, just having grown up in Longmont where Ziggi’s was founded,” says Bleeker. “When an opportunity to come and work for the company opened up, I knew I had to take it, just having fallen in love with the brand from the very beginning.”
Hear more from Bleeker in episode 24 of the Restaurant and Retail Revel(ations) podcast, and continue reading for key highlights from her.
Before enchanting and later employing Bleeker, Ziggi’s had a humble history as a startup specialty coffee concept. In 2004, Founders Brandon and Camrin Knudsen endeavored to open Colorado’s first locally-owned coffee shop, and did so with a small café on the corner of Main Street in downtown Longmont. Their timing aligned closely with the coining of the so-called “Third Wave Coffee” movement, which emphasized coffee quality along with responsible and sustainable coffee sourcing.
In the case of the Knudsens, entrepreneurial dreams paid off, as their lone shop wasn’t just well-received by locals, but sustained enough demand to gradually multiply. In May of 2022, Ziggi’s celebrated the milestone opening of its fiftieth store location, a significant shift from its days as a lone shop on Main Street.
Besides superior quality and service, another element sets Ziggi’s coffeehouses apart from an increasingly crowded specialty coffee marketplace: drive thru. The brand opened its first drive thru coffee shop in 2010 and really saw that concept resonate with their loyal customers. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the role of drive thru in this growing brand’s continued success.
In addition to the Third Wave movement in coffee, there’s another major industry theme that positions coffee shops as a “third place,” that is, the social surroundings that are distinct from the environment of the home (the first place) and of work (the second place).
It was in this third place environment that Camrin Knudsen started to find her entrepreneurial inspiration take root as she studied in a favorite coffee shop in college.
But for a restaurant style often associated with cozy ambience and an opportunity to linger, how does a drive thru fit into the plan?
For Ziggi’s, a coffee drive thru is actually a key differentiator and part of the brand’s brilliance. Takeaway drinks and beverage options surged in popularity during the height of the COVID pandemic, but even before the emergence of those health concerns, there was a clear marketplace gap for on-the-go consumers who still desired a quality cup of joe (you may recall the Third Wave Coffee connection from earlier in this post).
Adding to that market opening, drive thru visits jumped over 45% across all customer segments from April 2020 to August 2020 alone. The Ziggi’s drive thru coffee model addresses both the demand and the opportunity for a high quality to-go product, and in doing so, the brand has garnered some seriously loyal customers.
In case you are wondering what success looks like for a drive thru coffee shop, one measure could certainly be a brand’s growth. Since launching a formal franchising program in 2016, Ziggi’s has 50 locations and more than 100 in development, which certainly implies a successful and sustainable business.
Of course, there are other success indicators, too.
“The drive thru model allows us to be super fast and convenient with our service,” says Bleeker. “It gets people in and out.” Speed of service is one of the many metrics the Ziggi’s team monitors to ensure excellent guest experiences at their stores.
Where repeat business is concerned, Ziggi’s launched a loyalty and rewards app, introducing a new way for customers to earn rewards, order ahead and receive exclusive offers. Paired with the drive thru setup, guests can now take advantage of even faster ordering options, collecting their coffee in minutes.
“As we continue to expand to markets across the country, it is our responsibility to seek out opportunities that will provide our customers with an elevated experience when they visit Ziggi’s,” says Brandon Knudsen. “With this digital loyalty program offering rewards, order ahead and so much more, we believe that our new mobile app will be a game-changer for every Ziggi’s customer.”
The app is an expansion of the brand’s digital footprint, adding an additional branded touchpoint to the quick service, yet quality, Ziggi’s experience.
Not all drive thrus are created equal, and for this type of operation, one size doesn’t fit all. Coffee shops and other brands looking to add this takeaway component to their operations have many factors to consider, from equipment needs to constraints of the physical space and layout of each restaurant location.
For example, a drive thru lane could get tricky for a restaurant operating out of a center unit in a lengthy strip mall building. And while some brands may want to invest in all the bells and whistles—like digital menu boards, speed of service timers, and headsets—others might see much better return on investment with a lone window where an employee can take orders directly on a mobile order taker.
Two factors to look for when considering drive thru options are flexibility and a direct integration with the point of sale (POS).
Even carefully laid plans can change. As with any major revenue stream for your business, you’ll want to make technology selections that offer you flexibility and easy agility if you need to pivot from your original vision.
Where drive thru technology is concerned, that may mean starting with a light tech footprint and adding onto it as needed. Don’t you want to see whether your customers embrace this order option before investing in major infrastructure for it? Look for low profile solutions with the ability to scale for an option that’s truly flexible, and therefore beneficial for your business.
The Ziggi’s team has a drive thru solution that integrates directly with their Revel POS. Simplifying everything from order flow to reporting to employee training, one interconnected system plays directly into the brand’s drive thru success.
“Revel’s been a great point of sale system for us,” says Bleeker. “The features that help our operations keep running smoothly—we love that it’s an iPad-based system. So that’s helped us remain mobile for our customers in the service experience. And really, the biggest thing for us and a pivotal change that just happened within the company is the ability of Revel to integrate with our new mobile app.”
If you’re interested in removing the limitations of a physical dining space and driving more dollars for your coffee bar or expanding café concept with a drive thru, connect with our team to see whether Revel’s solution is the right fit.