What Makes a Good Location

Residential and retail mix are best

If you are considering a SONIC® burger franchise opportunity, our real estate team will work closely with you to help find an optimal location. We collaborate with franchisees to pinpoint the ideal site in their market. Ideally, we seek synergies in areas that lend themselves to make good SONIC locations, such as an area with a good residential and retail traffic component mix.

We typically look for sites with an established customer base, and we are open to looking at smaller markets where SONIC has had a history of strength. A location near high traffic retail locations is key, as is an easy entrance and exit. We look for drive-by traffic traveling below 45 mph.

Once all pertinent permits are approved, then we hit the ground running.

“Our construction timeline is 60 to 90 days after you receive permits and break ground,” says SONIC Vice President of Real Estate and Development Johnny Jones.

SONIC’s Real Estate Development group consists of real estate directors who have more than 100 years of site selection and demographic analysis experience. They are skilled in contract negotiations and site selection and can work as liaisons with the real estate brokerage community in the respective markets. They are each assigned to the geographic region where they live and work closely with franchisees in that area. We also have a full-time GIS (graphic information systems) analyst who helps provide demographic tools and sales tools to help franchisees understand how their site can perform. These services are included as part of the franchise fee.

Burger franchise opportunities: New restaurant models expand capabilities

As we expand our reach to more urban areas and colder climates, we have developed several franchise models beyond our traditional drive-in model, such as the indoor dining design, which also features a drive-thru. Our Fargo, North Dakota, location features a fireplace and WiFi to maximize customer comfort. We have also adapted to various locations with end-cap units.

SONIC burger franchising: indoor dining room

“We have to get creative. As you move up the coast, real estate gets very expensive,” Johnny says. “As we’ve made our moves away from our core markets and we’ve developed more inside diners, that has led us to look at urban and streamlined concepts.”

SONIC thrives in small towns and busy urban areas

Some of our most successful SONIC burger franchises are in small towns. This success is indicative of our family-friendly corporate culture, as well as our reputation for being an experiential QSR where people gather to celebrate life’s everyday moments — whether it’s a winning softball game or just a Saturday night get-together. We have growing appeal for consumers, both young and adult. SONIC is a destination — our state-of-the-art, digitally enhanced interactive menu screen provides a platform to engage with customers on a new level and even customize content and promotions.

Satisfying customers at a top burger franchise

SONIC’s unique drive-in experience and diverse menu appeal to a broad demographic of customers, from soccer moms to Millennials. Everything at SONIC is about the customer, and at the heart of what we do is a completely customizable experience like none other available at competing QSRs. Our highly successful Two Guys advertising campaign attracts fans that span generations and has established brand recognition on a national scale. When opening day arrives, news of SONIC has spread through town, and there is a line of customers waiting to experience our superior customer service and our made-to-order food, beverages and frozen treats.

burger franchising grand opening

“SONIC is different from most QSRs. Most people want to get in and out, so the drive-in experience is something that no one else on that scale is able to offer,” says Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Lori Abou Habib.  “We have five dayparts, and every single part of that day we meet that need with products that are absolutely better than anything out there.”

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