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.

How SONIC’s Supply Chain Improves Franchisee Margins

Franchise owners see benefit to their bottom line with savings on purchases

For franchisees in the foodservice industry, food and paper costs will always be among the largest lines on their P&L statements. SONIC® is committed to managing the supply chain for our franchisees, which is helping keep costs down and ensuring our customers get the highest quality products in each of our drive-ins across the country.

“For every single category we purchase — whether it’s beef, chicken or pork products — we build out the associated contracts with the right suppliers,” explains Michele Varian, Vice President of Supply Chain and Purchasing. “We look at every single cost component that goes into that case, from inbound freight to packaging, to the actual commodity itself. We put together, if possible, long-term contracts to protect pricing, and then get into the real minutiae of managing those commodity costs. There’s an amazing amount of value that can be drawn on managing components separately, and we’re very excited about that.”

SONIC’s supply chain and distribution team helps franchise owners save on indirect purchases

Michele and her team look for areas of opportunity where SONIC can grow such as with indirect purchasing. Until recently, franchisees were not able to get the same benefit on necessary, but indirect, purchases like trash disposal. Michele’s team has been able to secure contracts for those types of costs. That means savings for franchise owners.

“We’re building purchasing strategies on waste management and used cooking oil resale,” says Michele. “By doing so, we’re pulling those expenses together, building and bringing value back to the system. If you think about indirect cost, or even food and packaging cost, any savings that we can generate fall 100% to the bottom line. So we’re thinking about those efforts through Supply Chain management as adding to the profitability of every single drive-in.”

Managing SONIC’s supply chain and distribution is like running a business within a business. When this aspect of SONIC’s overall operations is efficient, cost-effective and provides value, then the entire brand benefits, especially at the local drive-in level.

“I’m managing a $1.3 billion business inside SONIC’s total business. We run this $1.3 billion business like it’s our own company. We are making sure that we have strong business cases put into place for purchases that we are making, and we can support the franchise community with the total programs utilizing the economies of scale that we can bring together from the whole system,” says Michele.

Learn more about SONIC franchise opportunities

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. Committed to helping our franchise owners succeed, we are in the middle of a major nationwide expansion.

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.

SONIC’s Franchise Restaurant Models Work in Convenience Stores and Non-Traditional Locations

Wherever people are popping by for convenience or quickness, America’s Drive-In fits right in

SONIC® has always put quality, delicious food, and top-notch customer service above everything else. As one of America’s premier QSR’s, we’re proud to be people’s go-to stop for celebrating everyday occasions. From our delicious, endlessly customizable drink menu to our fresh, made-to-order food, SONIC has something for everyone.

As we continue our nationwide expansion, we’re always looking for additional ways to bring our one-of-a-kind dining experience to new customers. One model that has us especially excited is the opening of SONICs in convenience stores and other non-traditional locations. These new sites allow us to create powerful synergies with other brands while at the same time making our food more accessible than ever.

“This push to open restaurants in convenience stores and other non-traditional locations represents an exciting new direction for America’s Drive-In,” says Lori Osley, Senior Director of Franchise Sales/Development Marketing. “Our brand has always been about creativity and adaptability, and this new restaurant model fits perfectly in that tradition. Innovations like this are yet another example of the entrepreneurial spirit that’s propelling our current national expansion.”

While the traditional drive-in continues to be at the heart of SONIC’s restaurant model, non-traditional models also figure strongly in our growth. They present new and profitable opportunities to serve markets and locations where traditional drive-in locations aren’t possible. Furthermore, combining SONIC franchises with existing and new convenience stores allows franchisees to leverage the built-in markets of other national brands.

The time is ripe to invest in a SONIC franchise, with awareness of our brand and demand for our services higher than ever. With new franchise models possible, there have never been more ways to become a franchisee.

America’s Drive-In is an adaptable, growing brand with a rich history

Here at SONIC, we’re proud of our roots. Founder Troy Smith started his humble Oklahoma hamburger stand with the goal of unmatched customer service backed by innovation. His hard work and business acumen laid the groundwork for SONIC to become the QSR powerhouse it is today.

While we’ll never lose sight of where we began, we also continue to look forward. The SONIC of today is a vibrant, innovative brand for the 21st century. We continue to invest in new technology to provide a superb, customized experience for everyone who visits our restaurants. We’re also leveraging social media to connect with our fans in more ways than ever.

As we grow our brand across the nation, we’re pushing the boundaries of what a QSR can be. Convenience store locations represent a prime example of this innovation. These stores have a built-in customer base that is already primed to buy when they walk in the door. The addition of a SONIC restaurant is a logical extension of the convenience store concept by providing a way for visitors to enjoy tasty hot food and refreshing cold drinks while they’re on the go.

America’s Drive-In has had great success partnering with existing convenience store brands to bring the SONIC experience to customers. For instance, recent co-branded locations in Oklahoma City have proven to be a smart business move for both brands. This is just one of the many synergies possible, and we’re always working with franchisees who can bring such innovation to SONIC’s strong tradition.

More ways than ever to invest in a SONIC franchise

SONIC offers its franchisees a variety of models for opening a restaurant. In addition to our traditional drive-in, we also offer models with indoor dining, counter service models perfect for convenience stores and food courts, and drive-ins especially designed for travel plazas. We can also work with franchisees to convert existing restaurants into SONIC locations. Our team of real estate and market research professionals works closely with our franchisees to choose the best location and model for their particular markets.

Convenience store locations represent an exciting new type of restaurant that meshes perfectly with SONIC’s business model. For example, the wide range of open hours at convenience stores fits well with our five-daypart menu strategy, which offers customers options for breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner and evening. This strategy could translate into a higher ROI for investors, keeping business steady during those parts of the day when other QSRs typically experience slumps.

sonic franchise

The model of the drive-in window also fits particularly well with convenience stores. People who go to convenience stores are busy but don’t want to compromise on quality. Attaching a drive-in allows them to get a high-quality meal, drink, or snack without having to leave the convenience and comfort of their vehicles. With SONIC’s reputation for superb food and stellar service, adding a drive-in location gives convenience store customers a QSR option they can trust.

Finally, partnering with a convenience store allows franchisees to operate in locations and markets where a traditional drive-in location might not be feasible. Whether it’s a denser urban area without the land necessary for drive-in stalls or a travel plaza that sees lots of drive-thru traffic, the convenience store model is a strong, sensible investment in many markets. Thanks to national advertising efforts like the Two Guys campaign, people in these areas know and want SONIC. All they need is a savvy, entrepreneurial investor willing to bring America’s Drive-In to them.

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.