SONIC Drive-In Poised for Growth in 2019

The iconic drive-in franchise announces many positive changes as it rapidly grows throughout the nation

As SONIC heads into 2019 development, here are a few key highlights from 2018 that helped SONIC achieve the #3 ranking on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List.

SONIC Drive-In® officially joins Inspire Brands®

SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®, heads into the New Year as the newest member of Inspire Brands®, one of the largest restaurant companies in the nation.

SONIC names Claudia San Pedro as president

As recently announced, Claudia San Pedro will lead the SONIC brand as President. Cliff Hudson, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SONIC, is expected to serve as a Senior Advisor to SONIC until March 2019 to help ensure a smooth transition.

“This is an important and exciting milestone for SONIC,” said San Pedro. “Inspire’s commitment to strategic investments and culture of collaboration will significantly benefit our guests, team members, and franchisees. As part of the Inspire family of brands, SONIC is positioned for growth and to continue our 65-year track record of success.”

SONIC is growing from coast to coast

SONIC is rapidly growing across the nation, with coast to coast openings in 2018 including those in Huntington Beach, CA, Key West, FL, Renton, WA, and Flushing, NY.

Strong growth is poised to continue in 2019, as SONIC has awarded multi-unit development deals in Alaska, Iowa and Texas, with additional partnerships to be announced later this year.

SONIC is focused on opening nontraditional locations
in new markets

SONIC recently introduced new, flexible restaurant models featuring indoor dining, multi-lane drive-thrus, and nontraditional design options suitable for unique real estate opportunities such as travel plazas, college campuses, and airports to capitalize on the demand for growth throughout the nation.

Sonic continues with breakthrough innovation

SONIC remains focused on preserving our unique culture of innovation, inclusion and diversity with a deep commitment to delivering authentic and delicious experiences to guests. In 2018, SONIC launched a mobile order-ahead platform, making it even easier for customers to customize their menu favorites. This past year also marked the year of the Sonic Signature Slinger, a beef and mushroom burger starting at just 340 calories and the summer hit, Sonic’s Pickle Juice Slush. Continuous product innovation keeps our loyal customers coming back for more and helps drive new consumer transactions.

Want to learn more about SONIC franchise opportunities?

For more information on multi-unit development opportunities near you, visit our website.

SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®, is part of the Inspire Brands® family of restaurants. Inspire is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and SONIC locations worldwide.

SONIC Franchise Review: Meet Blake Haines

Iconic drive-in franchise unveils short documentary about a young franchise owner who is thriving in the family business

SONIC® franchisees often say that joining SONIC®, America’s Drive-In® feels like becoming part of a very large family. For Blake Haines, co-owner of SONIC Drive-Ins located in Tennessee, investing in a SONIC Drive-In franchise is becoming a part of the family — his family.

Haines’ father-in-law, David Watson, is one of the largest SONIC franchisees in the system with more than 60 locations in Tennessee. After graduating from college, Haines worked his way up from carhop to general manager at the very first drive-in Watson purchased in his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee, in 1987. Haines’ impressive work ethic and drive to succeed prompted Watson to make Haines a partner in 29 restaurants — including a new, state-of-the-art location in the beautiful Franklin neighborhood of Berry Farms.

Opened in summer 2018, the Berry Farms location fits in perfectly with the architecture of its pedestrian-friendly community. The restaurant is extremely versatile, with garage doors that open to the breeze in the summer and close during the chilly fall and winter seasons, offering guests a great place to unwind and satisfy their cravings no matter the time of year or the fickle weather that Tennesseans are used to experiencing.

“It’s been incredibly busy,” Haines says. “SONIC has such great recognition, and that’s one of the things that you want as a franchisee — that brand recognition. Also, the building layouts, the carhops, the huge menu and the incredible drinks — everything about the brand is very appealing. SONIC provides support in many ways to help you run your restaurant the way you need to. I get asked all the time if I ever get sick of eating SONIC food, and the truth is no. No, I don’t.”

In the documentary clip below, watch Haines open up about his life as a SONIC franchisee, and be sure to catch his co-star, his brand new restaurant, in every scene:

Learn more about SONIC franchise opportunities

For in-depth details about a SONIC Drive-In franchise opportunity, request a copy of our free franchise report. You also can learn more by visiting our research pages.

SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®, is part of the Inspire Brands® family of restaurants. Inspire is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and SONIC locations worldwide.

SONIC Drive-In Ranks #6 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500

Iconic SONIC franchise moves up 33 spots to the top 10 on the franchise industry’s most prestigious list

Entrepreneur magazine, a leading business publication, recently unveiled its annual and prestigious Franchise 500 list, and we’re pleased to announce SONIC® ranked #6. This news is especially meaningful considering that SONIC jumped 33 spots from last year’s ranking.

With more than 4,000 franchise systems in the U.S., earning a spot in the prestigious top 10 of the most popular franchise ranking list is a major accomplishment. The Franchise 500 list is widely used by entrepreneurs to select top-performing franchise opportunities and the competition for ranking is fierce, with 80 percent of franchise brands failing to make the list.

What explains our tremendous climb on the 2018 Franchise 500?

Widely regarded as the franchise industry’s preeminent list for entrepreneurs who are seeking a best-bet investment, Entrepreneur rigidly compared more than 1,000 franchise systems to determine their ranking. When we consider that Entrepreneur measured the growth potential of a brand, the level of franchise support provided to franchisees, brand equity and a myriad of other factors, it is no small wonder why SONIC enjoys such a high position on this year’s list.

“We’re tremendously pleased with our high ranking on this year’s Franchise 500,” says Claudia San Pedro, President of SONIC. “This is an incredible time to be a part of SONIC, as our continued investments in new technology, new indoor dining models, menu innovation and our ongoing national advertising campaign positions us for another year of growth. As a franchisor, we work hard to ensure that our franchisees have the tools and resources needed to be successful, and we’re going to continue to find ways to deliver for our franchisees in 2018 and beyond.”

What makes SONIC a Best-Bet Investment in 2018?

SONIC is in the midst of an aggressive expansion that is bolstered by the resounding success of our wildly popular “Two Guys” marketing campaign. The enormous brand equity SONIC enjoys across the country makes it easy for entrepreneurs to bring America’s Drive-In to new communities, where large populations are already craving our delicious and memorable food. In the markets where SONIC is already established, the ease of our business model and the demand for our innovative menu makes scaling up to multiple locations a wise investment for many in our franchise system.

sonic franchise - two guys

Unlike other QSR brands, SONIC franchisees benefit from our five daypart strategy of breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner and evening, as well as a robust and innovative menu that offers customization and choice. Recently, SONIC invested in a new mobile app that is encouraging our customers to connect with us in new ways, such as mobile-ordering and payments.

SONIC is America’s Drive-In®, serving more than 3 million customers a day at more than 3,500 locations nationwide. An iconic brand with a rich heritage encompassing more than 65 years, SONIC believes in excellent customer service and developing core relationships with customers in the communities where our franchise owners operate. We are in the middle of a major nationwide expansion and joining SONIC now makes more sense than ever.

Learn more about SONIC franchise Opportunities

For in-depth details about the SONIC Drive-In franchise opportunity, request a copy of our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Kamal Singh Acquires 34 SONIC Franchise Locations

Millennial entrepreneur looks forward to a bright future with America’s beloved drive-in franchise

Kamal Singh is one of the most enterprising millennial entrepreneurs in the franchise industry. At the age of 31, Kamal owns more than 25 KFC and KFC/TacoBell locations, and he recently became one of the largest multi-unit franchisees with SONIC after acquiring 34 locations in the Houston area.

With revenues well approaching $70 million annually, Kamal says he chose to make the significant investment in multi-unit ownership with SONIC because of the tremendous profit-potential. SONIC’s 60-year legacy of exceptional food and customer service, as well as our brand’s forward-thinking leadership team was equally attractive to Kamal in the decision-making process.

“SONIC has a terrific, high-quality menu and a long-legacy of connecting with customers,” says Kamal, adding that he has plans to build 20 more SONIC restaurants in the fast-growing Houston area. “I think there is more than enough room to expand by several units in the Houston area. The opportunity is there.”

Born in India, Kamal immigrated to the United States when he was 14 years old. One of his first jobs was as a McDonald’s cashier in high school. After graduating from the University of Houston with a degree in accounting, Kamal says that the turning point in his life came in 2009 when he decided to leave a well-paying accounting position to buy a local sandwich shop.

“Buying my first restaurant was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Kamal says. “At the time, the sandwich shop was completely failing – going into bankruptcy. I had to work hard to quickly transform our operations and learn how to manage a team effectively to turn things around. I’m proud to say that this effort was successful and that this inspired me to invest in the QSR segment with well-known franchise brands.”

Although a very hands-on manager, Kamal has learned to step back and trust his teams to execute and excel. Kamal says he sees operations as the heart of any business model and the key to growth.

“I don’t believe in management, but in leadership,” said Kamal says. “I want to inspire our teams to achieve greatness within themselves.”

One of his goals as a SONIC franchisee is to continue working on leadership development, working alongside our executive team, to provide opportunities for his teams to thrive professionally and fulfill their own goals at his locations.

“I look to enhance my leadership team’s abilities and experiences,” Kamal says. “We have an ear to the ground in our restaurants, and we’re always looking to learn from all levels within our units. We empower our higher-level leaders, and seek to find opportunities for our teams to thrive within the business model.”

Kamal says he also “looks to the industry for best practices to evolve and better execute the brand vision and guest experience.”

Now a family man with two young sons, Kamal is excited to continue his journey as a multi-unit franchisee with SONIC. His hopes for the future are bright with plans to expand in 2018 and beyond.

“I look forward to expanding the footprint in the Houston area going forward,” Kamal says. “SONIC is a strong brand, with enormous brand recognition and an exceptional product. I am excited to track the performance of my locations and build upon their success in the years ahead.”

Become a SONIC Franchise Owner

To learn more about becoming a SONIC Franchise Owner, request a copy of our free franchise report or visit our research pages.

About Sonic

SONIC, America’s Drive-In, is the nation’s largest drive-in restaurant chain serving approximately 3 million customers every day. Nearly 94 percent of SONIC’s more than 3,500 drive-in locations are owned and operated by local businessmen and women. For 64 years, SONIC has delighted guests with signature menu items, 1.3 million drink combinations and friendly service by iconic carhops. Since the 2009 launch of SONIC’s Limeades for Learning philanthropic campaign in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, SONIC has donated $9.5 million to public school teachers nationwide to fund essential learning materials and innovative teaching resources to inspire creativity and learning in their students. To learn more about Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ/NM: SONC), please visit sonicdrivein.com and please visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn about SONIC’s Limeades for Learning initiative, please visit LimeadesforLearning.com.

SONIC’s New App Revolutionizes Drive-In Experience

The new SONIC app is quickly growing in popularity

SONIC® is the forward-thinking QSR franchise leveraging new technology to improve the customer experience. The latest advancement is an easy-to-use app.

Since launching on the App Store and Google Play, the app is quickly growing in popularity while empowering the customer in a new way.

Whether brand new to SONIC or a longtime and loyal customer, the app is making the drive-in experience more convenient than ever before. It’s menu perfectly mirrors the look and feel of SONIC’s iconic drive-thru menu screens in a fun and interactive way. The app also has key features which are personalizing the SONIC experience for customers who are:

● Finding the closest SONIC Drive-In locations and hours in their area.
● Browsing the menu and checking out nutritional information.
● Conveniently paying for orders through the app.
● Sending and receiving gift cards in exciting new designs to friends and family.
● Loading and reloading their MySONIC cards.
● Receiving monthly rewards.
● Viewing new promotions and specials on the app’s menu screen.

“In cooperation with our franchise owners, we’ve made significant technology investments to connect with our customers in a more personalized, individualized way,” says Doug Cook, Chief Enterprise Architect. “Our new app helps make SONIC far more competitive as a brand. Having built the app and supporting digital platform from scratch, we are well positioned to rapidly create new business capabilities and interactions with our customers. This app places us amongst the most innovative brands in the QSR segment, and it will increase our ability to win market share in the communities we serve.”

SONIC, an iconic brand with a rich heritage encompassing more than 60 years, believes in excellent customer service and developing meaningful relationships with our customers. The new app is building upon those relationships by enhancing SONIC’s ability to connect directly to customers.

In the near future, the app will track critical customer data, such as details about order preferences and the dollars spent. This useful information is incredibly advantageous for a growing brand to have, as SONIC’s strong marketing initiative can be tailored much more closely to the individual consumer.

“My view is we are going to provide a different experience for the customer versus our competition trying to use the same tool,” says Cliff Hudson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of SONIC Corp. in a recent interview with Nation’s Restaurant News. “We will provide a different experience, more personalized experience and we will get more information about them to able to be market to them in a way our QSR competition will have a difficult time matching.”

Learn more about SONIC franchise opportunities

For in-depth details about the SONIC Drive-In franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

SONIC Presents Awards to Top Franchisees at 2017 National Convention

Franchisees and Operators recognized for brand leadership

During the 2017 SONIC National Convention in Denver, Colorado in October, franchisees and operators of SONIC received 10 awards.

Annually, SONIC recognizes exemplary individuals and franchise groups to honor those who have a proven track record of strong leadership skills and leading the brand.

Award Recipients of the Convention

Troy Smith Hall of Fame: Gary Kinslow

Named after SONIC’s founder, induction into the Troy Smith Hall of Fame is SONIC’s most prestigious award. It is given to a franchisee who has worked with SONIC for a notable amount of time while making a significant contribution to the brand in terms of leadership, growth and positive influence.

This year, SONIC presented the award to Gary Kinslow, a second generation SONIC franchisee and leader of Kinslow SONIC Group. Based in Prague, Oklahoma. He owns and operates 40 SONIC Drive-Ins in Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi. Kinslow started his career at age 14 at SONIC as a cook for his father and now leads his team to provide guests with a remarkable SONIC experience every day.

“Gary has lived and breathed SONIC his entire life and has vast knowledge of the brand,” says Clifford Hudson, Sonic Corp. CEO. “He truly captures the spirit of Troy Smith and the inspiring entrepreneurial spirit of SONIC’s founder.”

Chain Leader Award: Steve Gonzalez

The SONIC Chain Leader Award was presented to Steve Gonzalez, director of the Warren Group in recognition of his success in exerting both leadership skills and a positive influence on his organization and the SONIC brand. Based in Lubbock, Texas, and operating 24 drive-ins, Gonzalez focuses on retaining good people and building a solid infrastructure through his strong leadership.

Turnaround Operator Award: Norm Kaufman

Norm Kaufman, SONIC franchisee and leader of Brand Ventures, LLC was presented with the SONIC Turnaround Operator Award, which honors an individual or group responsible for turning around operations, sales and profit performance of one or more SONIC Drive-Ins. Based in St. Louis, Missouri., Kaufman focused on two areas – guest service and people development. The group has built strong, long-lasting relationships with their employees, demonstrating Kaufman’s belief that developing great people can help turnaround any aspect of business.

Great People Award: Buddy McClain

SONIC presented Buddy McClain, franchisee and leader of McClain, Vaughn and Partners franchise group, with the SONIC Great People Award. This award is given to an individual or group who has made the recruitment, training, development and retention of people a top priority and strategy for growth. Based in Jackson, Mississippi., McClain developed an innovative management program and is reaping rewards in his 100 drive-in locations across Mississippi, Texas and Florida.

Operational Excellence Awards: Eddie Frey and Jeff Simmons

The SONIC Operational Excellence Award was presented to Eddie Frey, operating partner for the D.L. Rogers Group, and to Jeff Simmons, general manager for the Jimmy Hodges franchise group. This honor is awarded to individuals supervising fewer than five drive-ins with a track record of upgrading talent and growing sales and profits.

Based in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Frey started his career with SONIC as a manager trainee in 2003, working his way up to operating partner at three drive-ins located in Hartsville, S.C., Fayetteville, N.C., and Elizabeth City, N.C. Simmons, based in Mandeville, Louisiana., started his career with SONIC in 2011 in the kitchen and is now a general manager. Both Frey and Simmons make it a priority to make a positive difference in their local communities.

Multi-Unit Leader Awards: Justin Chandler and Dora Simonds

Justin Chandler, director of operations for MHR Group, and Dora Simonds, director of operations for the Rubyhill Group are recipients of the Multi-Unit Leader Award. This honor is awarded to individuals responsible for supervising more than five drive-ins with a proven track record of upgrading talent, delivering outstanding guest service and growing financial performance of their drive-ins.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Chandler oversees 16 drive-ins in the MHR Group and is known for his leadership and drive to constantly look for ways to improve the business. Simonds is the director of operations for 11 drive-ins in the Rubyhill Group across Denver, Colorado. In 2000, she started her career at SONIC as a cook and has grown to become a strong leader with a proven track record of developing talent while growing sales and profits.

Newcomer Award: Cinos, LLC

The Newcomer Award was presented to Cinos, LLC located on Long Island, N.Y. Cinos, LLC owns and operates three SONIC Drive-Ins in the state of New York. This award is given to an individual or franchise group new to the SONIC brand who delivers the SONIC promise to guests every day while achieving strong sales and profits.

Mason Development Award: Mason, Harrison, Ratliff, LLC (MHR)

The Mason Development Award was presented to MHR, a SONIC franchise group led by partners Ralph Mason, Chuck Harrison and Reeder Ratliff, who own and operate 288 drive-ins across 13 states with their partners. MHR has made outstanding contributions to the development of new drive-ins as we remodeled, rebuilt and relocated existing drive-ins. Based in Oklahoma City, Okla., and founded in 1974, MHR is one of SONIC’s largest franchise groups and credits its longtime success to their partners and operators, some of whom have been with the group for more than 30 years.

About SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®

SONIC, America’s Drive-In is the nation’s largest drive-in restaurant chain serving approximately 3 million customers every day. Nearly 94 percent of SONIC’s 3,500 drive-in locations are owned and operated by local business men and women. For 64 years, SONIC has delighted guests with signature menu items, 1.3 million drink combinations and friendly service by iconic Carhops. Since the 2009 launch of SONIC’s Limeades for Learning philanthropic campaign in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, SONIC has donated $8.5 million to public school teachers nationwide to fund essential learning materials and innovative teaching resources to inspire creativity and learning in today’s youth. To learn more about Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ/NM: SONC) and Sonic franchising, please visit sonicdrivein.com and sonicfranchises.com and please visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Team Assists SONIC in Securing the Right Location for Franchisees

Seeking the right place for the right price

SONIC®’s real estate team has the expertise and experience to assist with site selection for a franchise.

“They work directly with our franchisees to find new store opportunities, as well as relocation and rebuild opportunities,” says Johnny Jones, Vice President of Development and Real Estate of SONIC’s five-person development team. “Each team member represents a particular geographic area.”

For SONIC, franchise agreement license terms can range from 5 years for a non-traditional location to 20 years for a traditional location. Since a purchase or lease is binding to a franchisee for a significant length of time, decisions should be made carefully.

Finding an ideal site for a SONIC franchise

New SONIC franchisees, when beginning their work with Johnny’s team, start looking at particular real estate areas for viability. The franchisee selects the site, which must be approved by SONIC.

An ideal site for SONIC is a location with good visibility and easy access for vehicles. We also look for areas with good residential and commercial concentration that also have schools and medical buildings nearby.

When your selected sites meet those critical, initial factors, we examine even further to determine competition in the area and how the competitors are doing. Finally, it may come down to a matter of cost.

“We believe the ideal site for SONIC is a location that has the potential to result in a return on a franchisee’s investment,” says Johnny. “Our site selection process carefully examines every aspect of the purchase to assist our investors in making their decisions for long-term success.”

SONIC is America’s Drive-In®, serving more than 3 million customers a day at more than 3,500 locations nationwide. An iconic brand with a rich heritage encompassing more than 60 years, SONIC believes in excellent customer service and developing core relationships with customers in the communities where our franchise owners operate.

Learn more about SONIC franchise opportunities

For in-depth details about the SONIC Drive-In franchise opportunity, request a copy of our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.