Become a SONIC Drive-In Franchise Owner
Increasing revenue, balanced dayparts and open territory make it a great time to own a SONIC franchise
SONIC® is the nation’s largest and most beloved drive-in chain, serving hot, fresh and made-to-order food for more than 60 years. We’re rapidly expanding and have available territory and ideal locations in all 50 states. SONIC is more than an iconic brand; we are a solid franchise investment focused on the future and backed by visionary leadership, robust national advertising power and operational excellence.
There has never been a better time to become a SONIC franchisee. Leadership from a best-in-class franchise support team, a diverse menu that maximizes all five dayparts like no other QSR in the industry and the marketing muscle of the wildly successful Two Guys national campaign have positioned us as a brand with remarkable momentum. SONIC franchise owners saw average gross sales-by-store increase from $1,072,000 in 2012 to $1,246,000 in 2015, with more than 23 percent of our stores exceeding $1.5 million in gross sales in fiscal year 2015.
“If you’re interested in a 21st century brand with a rich history and track record of success, then you’ve found the right brand. SONIC has one of the most diversified daypart strategies in the industry, allowing our franchisees to maximize their assets and workforce to reach more customers throughout the day,” says Cliff Hudson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of SONIC Corp. “With SONIC’s unit-level economics, highly differentiated brand equity and entrepreneurial spirit, we’re poised for our next level of growth.”
SONIC was founded in 1953 when a gallon of gas cost 25 cents and a new car would set you back just $2,200. Our humble story began as a post-war American dream that grew beyond the wildest expectations of founders Troy Smith and Charles Pappe. Smith took a root beer and hot dog stand called Top Hat and turned it into a franchise that is now more than 3,500 restaurants strong. His drive, innovation and humble spirit are still at the heart of what makes SONIC’s culture special. We’ve grown from a super-regional brand to a national one, and we are looking for the right franchisees to build our team as we expand.
The drive-in as a unique business model
At SONIC we pride ourselves on operational excellence. We strive to respect the deep relationships we have with our customers, and the drive-in model gives us strong advantages in the market. Customers park in colorful, canopy-covered spaces and push our signature red button when they are ready to order. That’s when the magic begins. A friendly carhop delivers made-to-order food and drinks directly to customers in their cars, which provides the comfort and familiarity of a mobile living room. The SONIC experience, which offers customization, control and choice, positions us as one of the most differentiated concepts in the QSR industry.
At most QSRs, customers stand behind a cold and impersonal counter with other customers and wait their turn, or they approach the drive-thru menu in their car and wait their turn in a monotonous line.
“We have 25 parking stalls, so in essence you can be first in line every time you dine out at SONIC,” Cliff says. “The physical differentiation of SONIC allows us to utilize technology in a way our competition really can’t. During the next 5 to 10 years as Millennials all reach majority age, this is something that will take our business to a completely different level versus our competition.”
Two Guys advertising powerhouse catapults brand recognition
SONIC’s Two Guys advertising campaign is one of the most recognizable and successful advertising campaigns in QSR history, giving franchisees instant brand recognition and unprecedented advertising muscle on opening day and beyond. The Two Guys campaign resonates particularly well with Millennials, a growing customer base for SONIC, who seek out a fully customizable dining experience. The Two Guys campaign is loved by people of all ages and establishes our brand even in markets where we have not yet expanded. Our annual spend of almost $200 million creates familiarity with our products and pent-up demand in nearly every community across the U.S.
“Since we moved to a national media approach in early 2013, we have steadily increased our share of voice in the marketplace to the point that a franchisee who opens in a new area has a national advertising campaign working for them. They will be the leading advertiser in their community,” says Chief Development and Strategy Officer John Budd.
SONIC franchising: 5 strong dayparts drive sales and increase ROI
Our menu’s variety keeps SONIC customers coming back to experience all of our five balanced, distinct dayparts. Other QSR concepts have just one or two strong dayparts, but the SONIC menu works for franchisees throughout our 18-hour day. We start with breakfast, move into lunch, have one of our biggest dayparts in the afternoon selling ice cream and slush drinks, serve dinner and then close with strong evening business.
Our ability to produce strong results at all times of the day — avoiding the common drop-offs most QSR restaurants encounter in the afternoon or evenings — comes from our diverse menu. We excel at a wide range of food and beverages, and our menu is difficult to categorize. We sell more hot dogs than anyone else, and ice cream and slush drinks make up more than 40 percent of our sales.
“SONIC maximizes profitability by perfecting multiple dayparts. Whether you stop by during breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner or evening, there is a menu product calling your name. Our menu is not pigeonholed by any one particular style,” says Vice President of Innovation and Development Scott Uehlein.
Requirements to own a SONIC franchise
What does it take to become a SONIC franchisee? The franchise fee is $45,000, with a total investment for a traditional SONIC ranging from $1.07 to $2.36 million (excluding land). The net worth of a partner can be used toward the total net worth/liquidity requirements. The term of a traditional SONIC franchise is 20 years, plus a 10-year renewal.
Financial requirements to own a SONIC franchise
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- Restaurant background required by at least one operating partner, and multi-unit experience preferred
- Ability to develop, lead and inspire a management team
- Strong entrepreneurial skills
- Active in community
- Retail sales
Would you like to learn more about joining the franchisee family behind one of the most successful and unique QSR franchises in the U.S.? Fill out our request information form or call our toll-free number: