Culture in every cup

Scooter’s Coffee’s two decades of success comes as a result of its original business principles and values – finding a great location, staying committed to quality drinks, and speed of service, all complemented with a smile

2018 marked the 20th anniversary of Scooter’s Coffee, one of the fastest growing coffee drive-thru chains in the United States. It was also a year of significant change and advancement, as its Chief Executive Office Todd Graeve explains: “Since we last spoke at the beginning of 2018, we have completed the purchase of a much larger property in Omaha, NE, where we have relocated our national support headquarters and roasting/distribution facility. We have also made key leadership hires to prepare for significant growth and a march to 1000 stores over the next five years, while also appointing an executive leader to bring a new business channel out of the ground, and that will be consumer packaged goods (CPGs).”

Having completed its move to its new headquarters in May 2018, the company has quickly settled into its new surroundings and is now enjoying its benefits. “Beyond the additional office space and increased production/distribution capacity, we have been able to bring the entire company under one roof, once again, having spent a few years where staff was split between two locations in Omaha,” Graeve states. “Coming back to one place has deepened our cultural connections and elevated collaboration across departments and functions, all in the interest of increased support and success of our valued franchisees.”

The business has certainly come a long way since co-founders Don and Linda Eckles opened their first drive-thru coffeehouse in Bellevue, Nebraska. Their dedication to high-quality drinks, speed of service and customer care has resulted in a present-day portfolio of 207 stores in some 14 different states, and more than 175 franchisee commitments to build new stores. “We opened 33 new Scooter’s Coffee locations in 2018, and are resourcing for a 65 new-store advancement in 2019,” Graeve continues. “We are so thankful for the amazing reception our new stores have received, both in new and existing markets, and very pleased that our starting new-unit volume in 2018 was the best in company history. As annual new store openings become more robust, we have focused much of our resourcing efforts on training, in-the-field support staff, operating procedures and brand guidelines. As we launch an ever-growing number of new locations, a focus on world-class support and related investments is critical.”

One of the central pillars to the continued expansion of the Scooter’s Coffee brand is its family of franchisees, and the relationship the company has with these partners is always top of mind. “We continue to develop systems by which we connect with our franchisees and elevate relationships, support and trust,” Graeve details. “We do this first by observing our core values which direct and guide us. These uncompromising principles of ‘Integrity, Love, Humility, and Courage’ were further defined in 2018. When observed daily, our core values have the ability to increase trust, deepen relationship and expand influence with not only our franchisees, but also with our customers and communities.”

Enhanced experience
One things that has remained as strong as ever within the company is its own steadfast commitment to its core product competency and excellence in delivery of experience to each customer. “That being said,” Graeve hastens to add, “we do want to remain innovative when it comes to our product offerings each year, so long as we do not compromise on the overall delivery of the customer experience, including speed of service. As an example, this past year we rolled out a variety of cake-pops, the release of which coincided with our 20th birthday. They were a huge hit. These cake-pops, like the other new products we introduce, complement our other offerings, and enhance the overall experience our customers receive when they visit one of our stores.”

Meanwhile, sustainability and the relationships that Scooter’s Coffee forms with its suppliers at origin also retain the same level of significance that they have for the past two decades. “In 2018, two of our key leaders made it a priority to visit a number of our farmer partners, and in 2019 we intend to advance a key initiative which will build further upon these vital relationships. This will be a very exciting season for the company, and we intend to reveal more in coming months,” Graeve adds.

Core values
Staying on the topic of the future, Graeve enthuses as to how the company could not be any more excited about the potential for a successful 2019 and beyond. “While targeting 65 new locations and the elevation of unit-volumes in the 49franchise system, we will be rolling out a new version of our brand logo, cup and mobile app in the first half of the year,” he reveals. “At the same time that we advance unit counts and unit volume, we will also work hard to significantly broaden our CPG footprint.”

These are exciting times indeed, but as Graeve goes on to conclude, the secret to Scooter’s Coffee’s success comes from the importance it places in its mission, culture and values. “In 2018, we re-visited these very important beliefs and thus fortified our understanding of who we are as a company,” he says. “Our core values of Integrity, Love, Humility and Courage reflect our history and are timeless for the future. They will help us on a path to carry out our Mission Statement, which is ‘To create an amazing experience for each life we touch’.”