The SONIC Franchise Story

How SONIC became one of the most iconic brands in the nation with an even brighter future

the original sonic drive-in franchise

SONIC® is an American success story that continues to flourish with every new chapter. Founded in 1957, SONIC franchises have risen from humble origins to one of the most instantly recognizable brands in the nation, with over 3,600 locations open from coast to coast and millions of fans who make SONIC a part of their daily lives.

The success of SONIC can be attributed to a long legacy of excellent leadership that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, and great food. Beginning with our founder Troy Smith, who opened the very first SONIC location in Oklahoma City, to Clifford J. Hudson, who oversaw SONIC’s meteoric rise as a national brand, to our current president Claudia San Pedro, who is ensuring that SONIC remains the most forward-looking brand in the booming QSR industry.

drive-in franchises built to last | SONIC

San Pedro joined the company in 2006, quickly rising through the ranks. Today she is an accessible leader often seen, literally, out on the floor mingling with employees at SONIC headquarters. Prior to becoming President in early 2018, she helped guide the company in a variety of capacities, including serving as Vice President of Investor Relations and, most recently, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

SONIC drive-in franchises were built to last

SONIC is the largest chain of drive-in franchises in America, offering menu heaven to young and old customers alike — whether they want a juicy burger, a milkshake made with real ice cream or a refreshing cherry limeade. No QSR can match the diversity of SONIC’s menu, which maximizes all five dayparts. SONIC’s Two Guys campaign launched in 2003 and has become one of the most popular QSR advertising campaigns in history. Our brand recognition is unprecedented; even in towns where the closest SONIC might be hundreds of miles away, SONIC is a familiar concept.

In order to help make SONIC easier to open in new markets, SONIC drive-in franchises recently launched several new restaurant models, including indoor dining, c-store, counter service, travel plaza and more. As a result, SONIC has expanded far beyond our traditional footprint in the Midwest, as far north as Alaska and as far south as Miami, Florida, and we have given entrepreneurs in all markets the opportunity to bring SONIC to any market coast to coast.

SONIC is an experience shared by generations. Customers hit the red order button and magical things happen. Families celebrate birthdays at SONIC. First dates are held at SONIC. Memories are made at SONIC.

SONIC Helps Franchisees Write Their Own Stories

After more than 62 years in business, the stories that we’re the proudest of are the continued success of our franchise owners. Our franchise owners come from all walks of life, and what unites them is their passion for our brand and their drive to succeed.

We’re proud that several of our franchisees grew up going to or working in a SONIC restaurant in their community. They know how special our brand is and the fact that they chose a life as a SONIC franchise owner proves that point. This is exactly the case of Luke Flatin, a franchise owner in Kansas. This is his story:

I started working at Ottawa, Kansas Sonic right out of high school. I applied as a carhop to make some money to pay for gas and insurance for my car. I met and started dating my wife Jessica at Sonic two months after I started. I grew into an Assistant Manager when I was 19 and I was offered a General Manager spot in Burlington, Kansas when I turned 20. I worked for the Esch Group for 9 years and decided it was time for me to start my own group. I pitched Beatrice, Nebraska to my uncle for financial help and we opened that store in 2012. Beatrice opened up and did very well for us. Eighteen months later we had the opportunity to buy Hastings and Holdrege, Nebraska Sonics.

In September 2018 I had the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream to become the franchisee and buy out my uncle. Jessica and I just had the opportunity to buy our first store as franchisees in Neodesha, Kansas and plan on building three more stores in the next two years! Sonic is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Franchisees have great support from corporate and have a lot of opportunity for growth. Our plan for Sonic is to buy and build over 100 stores over the next 25 years. I can’t wait to help make Sonic a bigger and better brand!

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