It started as a pushcart by the railroad tracks in downtown Grants Pass, Oregon, the quaint little town located on the legendary Rogue River. In the midst of Grants Pass' panoramic views of stately mountains and ancient forests, Dane and Travis Boersma decided to leave the family dairy business to serve espressos.
The year was 1992, and the Boersmas not only wanted to create a place where its flavorful drink combinations drew customers in, but also one where the customer service was unlike any other place.
Dutch Bros Coffee, the name they settled on, eventually became the largest privately held drive-thru coffee chain in the country. Today, with hundreds of locations in 14 states, Dutch Bros continues to be the place where coffee lovers flock for tasty drinks and one-of-a-kind customer service, as well as an intricate part of every community it calls home.
To delve deeper into the Dutch Bros brand, we sat down with VP of Design and Construction Daniel Batty.
Give us a snapshot of your brand?
Dutch Bros Coffee is a high growth operator and franchisor of drive-thru shops that focus on serving high quality, hand-crafted beverages with unparalleled "speed" and superior "service." Founded in 1992 by brothers Dane and Travis Boersma, Dutch Bros began with a double-head espresso machine and a pushcart in Grants Pass, Oregon.
While espresso-based beverages are still at the core of what we do, Dutch Bros now offers a wide variety of unique, customizable cold and hot beverages that delight a broad array of customers. We believe Dutch Bros is more than just the products we serve—we are dedicated to making a massive difference in the lives of our employees, customers and communities.
What type of consumer are you targeting?
We may sell coffee, but we're in the relationship business. Everyone is a potential customer for Dutch Bros.
How does the design of your stores fit today's consumers?
Our goal is about the Dutch Bros experience. We want people to drive onto our parking lot and feel the embrace of our brand from the beginning of their journey through our line to the end.
Walk us through how and why the retail stores are designed the way they are?
The goal is to provide our Broistas with a comfortable and functional setting to maintain the true Dutch Bros spirit. Gone are the days of the “party button” that would ignite music, lights and a disco ball (that was a real thing). Today, there's more technology, better equipment placement and a strong flow through to our customers.
Take us through your construction and design strategy.
When I arrived at Dutch Bros in 2018, we had an incredibly well designed building. Although probably the prettiest building in the world of QSR, it didn't fully support our desire for repeatability, speed and function. I worked alongside our design and constructions team to create an amazing building.
To date, the plans are some of the tightest I have seen in the industry.
What's the biggest issue today related to the construction side of the business?
Cost. COVID really interrupted supply chains, decreased efficiencies and painted a picture of uncertainty in our industry. The biggest take away was the forced retirement of so many skilled and talented tradesmen that will most likely continue in the coming years.
The challenges have driven costs to new levels across the board. While the pricing has stabilized, I do not see much relief in the years ahead.
Talk about sustainability. What are you doing?
We design our shops to take advantage of the many sustainable materials and methods available in the industry including cool roofs, recycled materials, implementation across the brand of California Title 24 (building energy efficiency standards), high efficiency HVAC units and 100% LED lighting in our buildings and on our sites.
What do you see as some of your biggest opportunities moving ahead?
The industry is changing rapidly. On the design front, the use of BIM and Revit is at the forefront of our future. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being discussed in the industry, as are modular builds.
At some point, the ability to marry these two advancements could do wonders for the industry, however the legislative understanding and acceptance creates roadblocks and slows down these opportunities. While a building built inside of a factory is a great idea, the level of coordination to deliver, make connections and finish out the sites has proved challenging.
The goal is to train the next generation of business leaders who are good stewards in their community and people of strong character. The number of people who have benefitted from this path and are on the journey today is astounding.
Are you optimistic about what you see in the restaurant sector?
When Amazon came online, there was great fear in the retail industry about closing up brick and mortar stores. Some of that came true, however others in the industry used this as an opportunity to innovate and reshape retail. The pendulum is always in motion and sometimes we fail forward on the journey to success.
In the world of QSR (Quick Service Restaurants), this journey is no different. We have seen fast casual brands shift to more drive-thrus, which revitalized dying brands, allowing them to innovate, regather old customers, change their offerings and even grow their brands. It is exciting to see.
Why did you pick the locations you did for your stores?
The locations are chosen to match industry trends for beverage consumption, traffic counts, demographics and match some of our proprietary methods for choosing locations. This has resulted in great AUVs for our brand.
What's your growth plan? What areas are you targeting?
We have a goal of opening 4,000 shops in the next 10-15 years.
What's the secret to creating a "must visit" hotel/resort in today's competitive landscape?
There has to be a 'draw'. In the QSR industry, this is easy access on and off the site, but there needs to be more. Safety in the evening, strong lighting and signage and a welcoming brand that embraces each customer as an individual. Dutch Bros offers these items, and more.
In the coming years, we hope to continue to serve our customers in new and innovative ways both inside and outside our shops.
What's today's consumer looking for?
Great customer service seems to be the battle cry. You can have a great product but the wrong people serve it. I think there is a lot of talk around culture and how it fits into your brand. It can be visual, emotional or a concrete ideal of the business that meets their needs. Look at the major brands that are successful- they are either feeling a basic need, have impressive technology or are adding value to people's lives.
What's the biggest thing on your to-do list right now?
We come to work each day to do our job, but will only settle on doing it better every day. We just completed a project that we have worked on for over two years (planning, modifying, and developing).
It is a big win for our brand, offering better information around costs, creating better transparency among the teams and identifying trends for better planning in the years ahead. Progress takes time and our plates are full of ideas where we can take our builds to a new place.
Tell us what makes your brand unique?
The way we serve others is a great place to start. The leadership of our co-founder and executive team has provided the framework for our brand. The idea of "compelling futures" for our employees is a mainstay for our Broistas, who have the opportunity to come to work for our brand, earn a place in our people pipeline and within a few short years (upon meeting specific training and character guidelines) operate a shop in our system.
The goal is to train the next generation of business leaders who are good stewards in their community and people of strong character. The number of people who have benefitted from this path and are on the journey today is astounding. In return, this provides the motivation for the development team to work harder to find the best site in strong markets to meet the demand from the internal ideals of our co-founder.
Story by Michael J. Pallerino, editor of Commercial Construction & Renovation magazine. Over the past 30-plus years, he has won numerous awards, including the "Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award," recognized as the Pulitzer Prize for business-to-business magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
One-on-One with... Dutch Bros Coffee's Daniel Batty
Describe a typical day.
I start each day with a quick scan of my texts or emails and look for areas that need some attention. From this point, I log onto the OxBlue webpage and scan the projects under construction and look for changes in progress, delays or opportunities for our teams. Almost immediately (5:30 a.m. or 6:00am), the phone will start ringing as vendors, our internal teams of members, or the development team reach out to discuss projects in the works. The days are filled with meetings from finance, to marketing, field operations, development and an occasional call from the executive team.
Tell us your story. How did you get started in the industry?
I worked with my father for several years as his laborer on job sites. His role as an electrical contractor afforded my brothers and I early exposure to the industry and the hard work of creating something from the ground up. As we grew older, I watched my father toil at his craft, working long hours, coming home dirty and tired and at times chasing money for unpaid invoices.
It was never appealing to me and I wanted nothing to do with the industry. I decided to study Public Policy in college as I was going to "change the world". Attending college in the evenings for 10 years while I worked at a civil engineering firm and later an environmental firm, I graduated and went to work in the trash industry. It was an amazing job and I had broken the Batty Family Construction Curse.
Within a few years, I was offered a role at McDonald's. where I served for a few years and then followed my VP to CKE Restaurants (Carl's Jr & Hardees) and several years later, after the urging of my good friend Aaron Harris, I found my way to Dutch Bros Coffee.
What opportunities are out there for the industry as we move forward?
Right now, there is a strong need for people in the construction industry. As I mentioned earlier, there was a great exodus from the business as older contractors and craftsmen retired early because of the pandemic. Trade schools need to be the first line of defense to gather up great candidates, as college will not serve the industry as easily.
What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Actually, it was during a counseling session at church and it is something that has stuck with me since I was in my 20s. "Having an EGO means you are Edging God Out. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you will be humbled by the smallest failures."
Keeping the right perspective, listening to others and working as a team to find great solutions is what has propelled the development team at Dutch Bros. We are fair, firm and friendly; we respect each other and we share the motto of 'love and lift' to see us through each project.
What's the single best thing you can do to make sure you get a seat at the table?
Find the right partner. There are advocates on your team who will fight for you, as well as other female leaders who have achieved success. Finding these people and aligning with them will give you a better chance at doing the same.
I have always said that no matter who you are, people may look past you for lack of experience, education or other deeper reasons, but it is still up to you! You need to go around, over, under or through these people and continue to fight for your place at the table. If the journey is too hard and too great, go where you can make the biggest impact.
What's the biggest item on your to-do list?
Get better 1% a week in any area where you serve. Come to work each day to manage better, create better processes, reach out to new vendors or serve your team better. Currently, we are revamping some training tools as a refresher to the on-boarding process, as well as gaining insight from team members that have served the brand for a few years to help us shape a more effective program for our future team and its leaders.