SONIC Drive-In Franchise Owners Are Meaningful Members of Their Communities

SONIC Drive-In offers a proven business model that has allowed our franchise owners to give back to their community

SONIC® is rightly called America’s drive-in franchise for a reason — with more than 3,500 locations across the United States, the iconic brand is beloved for serving up hot, fresh and made-to-order food, and also for the meaningful impact our franchise owners have in their communities.

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“Giving back to the community has elevated our business,” says Jerry and Denise Conway, multi-unit franchise owners in Texas and recipients of the Troy Smith Award. ”We don’t miss an opportunity to be part of a charity. We have a reputation as SONIC, and we are right at the forefront of every event. Just about any event in town, you’ll see the SONIC logo on it; that’s how we built our business. We were the forerunner in a lot of things going on in SONIC today, and I still think it’s the best franchise and would recommend it to anyone.”

There’s never been a better time to open a SONIC® Drive-In franchise in your community. We offer a QSR investment with remarkable momentum driven by three things: Leadership from our best-in-class franchise support team, a diverse menu that maximizes all five dayparts and the unprecedented brand recognition generated by our popular Two Guys national advertising campaign. SONIC franchisees saw average gross sales by store increase from $1,072,000 in 2012 to $1,246,000 in 2015, and new locations are performing at record levels — with more than 25% of our stores far exceeding $1.5 million in annual sales.

SONIC Drive-In franchise owners enjoy era of record-setting revenue growth

It’s not just marketing driving SONIC’s growth. SONIC franchises produced average gross revenues of more than $1,246,000 in 2015, as disclosed in Item 19 of the FDD. New locations are also performing at record levels, and more than a quarter of SONIC stores far exceed $1.5 million in annual sales.

At the same time, SONIC’s iconic brand image and nostalgia for the carhop experience make each SONIC franchise location a community hub. For SONIC franchisees, getting involved in the community not only makes good business sense, but also helps build the brand and foster a sense of connectedness. Additionally, it’s a pretty big way to make a real difference. For example, take the #ThanksTeach effort.

limeade for learning
In partnership with local franchise owners, school systems and the community, SONIC Drive-In has committed $15 million over the next five years to Limeades for Learning, money that will be used to fund essential learning materials and teacher development, inspiring creativity and learning in today’s youth. This kind of dedication to youth development and learning is just part of the rewarding work that comes from owning a SONIC Drive-In franchise.
“We’re part of all the civic groups and churches,” says Greg Rowden, a multi-unit franchise owner in Arkansas, noting his SONIC team once paid to build an entire baseball field. “When we see a need, we try to step in and help fulfill it.”

SONIC is rapidly expanding across the country

SONIC is growing into communities across the country, with available territories across the United States. Earlier this year, we unveiled plans to open the first SONIC Drive-Ins in Hawaii and company leadership notes opportunity abounds for the right entrepreneur. In addition, we announced 33 new franchise stores in California, where we continue actively seeking potential franchise operators.

More franchises are coming on board every day, meaning no matter where our customers go, they’ll find a SONIC and feel at home. That’s just one of the many factors driving more than 3 million customers to our stores each and every day.

“SONIC customers use us more broadly, rather than just breakfast, lunch or dinner,” says Senior Vice President of Development Drew Ritger. “It’s given us a great platform to use our innovation to make each of those dayparts more relevant. There are dollars to be spent or consumed, and SONIC is a great choice.”

Bring the SONIC franchise to your community today

The franchise fee for a single unit is $45,000, with a total estimated investment for a traditional SONIC ranging from $1.02 million to $1.77 million (excluding land). The net worth of a partner can be used toward the total net worth/liquidity requirements, which helps to ease costs. The term of a traditional SONIC franchise is 20 years, plus a 10-year renewal.
Sonic Drive-In Franchise
“There’s a lot of geography left for us for growth in the United States. We have huge national cable exposure with our advertising now, so that in all markets we’re on television 12 months out of the year,” says SONIC Drive-In CEO Cliff Hudson. “During the next 10 years we could add up to 1,000 stores. There is a lot of open space up and down the West Coast, up and down the East Coast and in Florida and California, particularly. Even in our core markets, there are still development capabilities.”

Learn more about SONIC franchise

For in-depth details about the SONIC franchise opportunity, request franchise ownership information. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

For in-depth details about the SONIC franchise opportunity, request franchise ownership information. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

5 Reasons to Become a SONIC Franchise Owner

Nation’s largest drive-in franchise offers increasing revenue, balanced dayparts and open territory

There’s never been a better time to open a SONIC® Drive-In franchise in your community. We offer a QSR investment with remarkable momentum driven by three factors: Leadership from our best-in-class franchise support team, a diverse menu that maximizes all five dayparts and the unprecedented brand recognition generated by our popular Two Guys national advertising campaign. SONIC franchisees saw average gross sales by store increase from $1,072,000 in 2012 to $1,246,000 in 2015, and more than 25 percent of our stores far exceeding $1.5 million in annual sales.

Sonic Franchise

“If you’re interested in a 21st-century brand with a rich history and track record of success, then you’ve come to the right place,” says CEO Cliff Hudson. “SONIC has one of the most diversified daypart strategies in the industry, allowing our franchisees to reach more customers throughout the entire day. And with SONIC’s unit economics, highly differentiated brand equity and entrepreneurial spirit, we’re on a path toward unprecedented growth.”

Here are 5 reasons to open a SONIC franchise:

1. Strong dayparts drive sales and increase ROI

The SONIC menu offers so much variety that our customers keep coming back to experience all of our five balanced and distinct dayparts. Unlike other QSR concepts that rely on one or two strong dayparts, our menu generates larger ROI for franchisees over the entire course of 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 close out with a strong evening business.

“You’ve got nearly 24-hour real estate when you invest in a SONIC franchise,” Cliff says. “Utilizing the real estate, the equipment and the labor as efficiently as possible is great from an investment perspective. It’s a much more efficient operation than the typical QSR that has downtime throughout the day.”

2. Our innovation ramps up the customer experience

SONIC has embraced innovation from day one, when founder Troy Smith installed speakers in each drive-in stall and continually looked for ways to innovate and improve customer service.

SONIC’s investment in technology is building an interactive environment that will take customization to another level. Mobile ordering and payment will make it easier for our customers to order their SONIC menu favorites and we then use that customer data to deliver localized promotions tailored to customers’ buying history — straight to their mobile device.

“We’ve always been able to have something over the other big players in QSR and that is that we have a one-on-one relationship with our customers,” says Grey Simpson, a multi-unit franchise owner in Charleston, South Carolina. “We deliver their food to their car, we have the ability to check-back more like a full service restaurant, and now with the 20/ 20 Vision, we have the ability to interact with our customers through smartphone technology, and that’s really exciting.”

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3. We offer a strong franchise support network

We provide all the support needed to launch a successful SONIC Drive-In. SONIC will assist you at multiple phases of the development process — from real estate site selection to site design. SONIC provides a structured and comprehensive training program to guide franchisees through opening a new drive-in and much more. We are constantly working to evolve our training and support to assist our franchisees in all aspects of their SONIC life.

We also provide SONIC eLearning, so busy franchisees and SONIC staffers can stay on the leading edge of the industry. SONIC provides certified training courses online in topics such as operations, food safety, customer service and management for our new and existing franchisee community.
“There’s really not a single significant initiative that doesn’t have franchisee involvement and testing,” Cliff says. “SONIC is a very people-driven and relationship-driven culture. The result of this over time is that you get much greater communication, collaboration and a much higher rate of trust than you see elsewhere.”

4. Our national advertising power is at an unprecedented high

When you open a SONIC franchise, you automatically tap into the media buying power of one of the most successful QSR ad campaigns of all time. Our iconic Two Guys advertising campaign has created instant brand recognition that generates community excitement months before a new SONIC’s opening day. The Two Guys campaign resonates particularly well with millennials — a growing customer base for SONIC — who seek out a dining experience that they control and customize.

SONIC’s record brand recognition boosts media power and gives instant advertising dollar power to new restaurants in new locations.

“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.

5. The drive-in is a business model that transcends generations

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.

At SONIC, customers park in colorful, canopy-covered spaces and push our signature red button when they are ready to order. 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.

“We have 25 parking stalls, so in essence you can be first in line every time you dine out at SONIC,” Cliff says. “That allows us to utilize technology in a way our competition really can’t. During the next five 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.”

Ready to open a Sonic Drive-In franchise in your community?

The franchise fee for a single SONIC restaurant is $45,000, with a total investment for a traditional SONIC ranging from $1.02 to $1.77 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.

“We are looking for franchisees who want to be part of a family-oriented culture with a can-do entrepreneurial attitude,” John says.

Veteran SONIC Franchise Owner Featured in Multi-Unit Franchise Magazine

National publication spotlights longtime SONIC Drive-In franchise owner on ability to grow by focusing on quality, not quantity

SONIC® multi-unit franchise owner Ted Kergan began his career with SONIC in 1977 as general manager of the Alexandria, Louisiana, location. Today he is the largest Sonic Drive-In franchisee in the entire state. Kergan Bros. — which ranks No. 20 on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Private Companies in the region with $107 million in revenues in 2014 — now owns and operates more than 50 SONIC restaurants throughout Louisiana.

Ted Kergan Sonic Franchise

Ted shared his rise-through-the-ranks SONIC franchising success story with Multi-Unit Franchisee. In the magazine article, Ted says that his career at SONIC has been both fulfilling and fun. “At SONIC, we sell fun. We have girls on roller skates and cherry limeades. All we do has to fit into the ‘fun’ box. Our success is a combination of our food and how we serve it.”

Ted also was recognized as a company leader in 2015 when he received the Troy Smith Hall of Fame Award, presented at our annual SONIC Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I’m certainly grateful for the opportunities that got me where I am today. SONIC, under the leadership of Cliff Hudson, is a great organization with great folks,” Ted says in the article.

Long-term success with the SONIC Drive-In franchise

Kergan Bros. is the largest SONIC franchise in Louisiana, employing more than 1,500 residents and making excellence a part of the company’s day-to-day operations.

Ted has a customer-first mentality when it comes to running his businesses. “I’m always upgrading the restaurants,” he says in the article. “If a unit starts looking tired, I tear it down and rebuild or refurbish it. I’m a big believer that the customers want to come into the nicest facility on the street. Not something funky — that’s like putting lipstick on a pig — but something genuinely striking. That shows respect for our customers and our employees.”

Ted gives back to the SONIC brand by serving in numerous capacities, including membership on SONIC’s franchisee advisory council. Additionally, Ted and his team give back to their communities by working with more than 250 schools across Louisiana and volunteering with nonprofit organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club and the American Cancer Society.

The level of excellence Ted founded his business on also translates to his crew. Crewmembers of Ted’s SONIC Drive-In at 3505 Monroe Highway in Pineville, Louisiana, recently were recognized as one of the best in the nation. The team took home the gold medal at the 2015 annual Dr Pepper SONIC Games, an Olympic-style competition and training program recognizing excellence.

The time is now to open a SONIC franchise in your community

While Multi-Unit Franchisee perfectly captures the inspirational narrative of Ted’s continued success as a multi-unit SONIC franchise owner, SONIC continues to thrive with plans for rapid expansion across 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. SONIC is the nation’s largest drive-in restaurant chain, serving more than 3 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of SONIC’s 3,500 drive-in locations are owned and operated by franchisees. Over the past 60 years, SONIC has delighted guests with signature menu items, more than 1.3 million drink combinations and friendly service by iconic carhops.

Sonic Franchise

As the new location in Somerset is off to a terrific start, America’s drive-in franchise is actively seeking savvy entrepreneurs to fuel SONIC’s ambitious plans to open dozens of new locations across Massachusetts. The franchise fee for a single SONIC restaurant is $45,000, with a total investment for a traditional SONIC ranging from $1.02 million to $1.77 million (excluding land). The net worth of a partner can be used toward net worth/liquidity requirements. The term of a traditional SONIC franchise is 20 years, plus a 10-year renewal.

For new franchise owners, Ted offers a simple and straightforward recipe for success in the article:

“Go find somebody who does something you don’t know how to do, and follow them around,” he says. “Most people are willing to take the time if you ask them.”

To read the Multi-Unit Franchisee article in its entirety, click here.

Learn more about SONIC

For in-depth details about the SONIC franchise opportunity, request franchise ownership information. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

SONIC Boom: How the classic drive-in chain is adapting to the times

It’s tough stuff to stay true to your roots while adapting to the times.

we0310That is precisely the feat that SONIC Drive-In is trying to accomplish in its continued expansion from a regional darling to a national powerhouse. Certainly, such evolution has been successfully done before—just look at once-regional upstarts such as Chick-fil-A and Chipotle. But the formula for national success is not simple.

In fact, there is no formula.

That’s making life particularly interesting for John Budd, executive vice president and chief development and strategy officer at SONIC, who is overseeing the company’s brand evolution. On one hand, Budd wants SONIC to remain the same folksy but slightly off-kilter drive-in fast-food chain that made it a regional standout from its base in Oklahoma City. But on the other hand, as SONIC continues its expansion outside the South and into the Northeast and beyond, some key changes have had to be accommodated at new locations.

For example, winter weather can get nasty in the north. That’s why the chain, famous for its drive-in service and friendly carhops, is installing drive-thrus or dining rooms—or both—in many of its new stores.

This is not your grandfather’s SONIC. But, Budd says, it doesn’t exactly have to be.

“The drive-in is still at the center of the brand. But we do have to make format adaptations to make sure the brand plugs into the real estate in cooler markets.”

Even then, he insists, SONIC needs to “capture the brand essence regardless of the format.” In other words, SONIC needs to first and foremost be the place that offers more than 1.3 million different drink combos, sells burgers at breakfast, and dishes outside-the-box milkshakes like its new Creamery Shakes, which come in such oddball flavors as Bourbon Brown Sugar and Wildberry & Lavender.

At stake for SONIC is nothing smaller than its sea-to-sea future. There are 3,529 SONIC Drive-Ins in 45 states today, with Rhode Island the most recent state to welcome a location. That means there are just five states to go.

In 2014, the brand announced plans to build as many as 1,000 new stores over 10 years. While it’s strayed slightly downward from that track, SONIC still plans to add about 60 new stores over 2016 and, in the process, continue entering the digital age of fast food with everything from new point-of-sale systems and menuboards to LED lighting at stores and continued expansion of its social marketing into the worlds of Snapchat, Instagram and whatever is the next cool click.

One analyst says SONIC has the advantage of keeping ahead of the competitive pack.

“SONIC is the most innovative [quick serve] that we’ve seen,” says Will Slabaugh, managing director of Stephens Research, a financial services firm. “The heart and soul is the drive-in. But SONIC is identifiable in any format.”

As SONIC grows, the innovation seems to grow along with it. Since recently launching boneless chicken wings, chicken has broadened from 5 percent to 10 percent of SONIC sales, Budd says. And by adding the new shake line, it’s extended its shake offerings to 25 flavors. Meanwhile, its limited-time offers (like the most recent Ultimate Chicken Club) remain the envy of the industry.

But the key to SONIC’s successful expansion will be its continued appeal to Millennials, Budd says.

“Millennials are the generation that above and beyond … want to have products customized and personalized for them,” he says.

As SONIC expands, it’s looking for ways to improve. It’s upgrading its POS equipment to a cloud-based system, installing new digital menu screens in all drive-in stalls, installing LED lighting and even testing solar panels at a company-owned store in San Antonio that draws in curious customers who want to take a closer look at the panels hoisted on canopies above the parking stalls.

Even the marketing—widely viewed among the strongest in fast food—is getting a tweak. Basketball superstar Kevin Durant joined the familiar “Two Guys” in an offbeat ad campaign. While there are no plans to add more celebs, Budd doesn’t rule it out.

“We’re taking the old service model and trying to modernize it,” he says.

Original article