Sonic Franchise

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Detailed Information

Capital Required
$1,200,000 - $3,600,000

Liquid Capital

Net Worth

Financing Assistance
Available Via Third Party

Training and Support

Initial Franchise Fee

CEO Name
Claudia San Pedro

Company Owned Units

Existing Units



Sonic is a chain of quick-serve restaurants known for ice cream, shakes, slushies and hot dogs. The chain uses a five-daypart strategy: strong breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner and evening. One reason for this approach is that almost 40 percent of its profits derive from ice cream, shakes, slushes and drinks. Many of its customers visit during after-school hours.

Sonic has several franchise models. There’s the traditional drive-in franchise with 10 to 24 drive-in stalls and patio seating. It is popular in warmer climates. Another option is the indoor dining model focused on cold-weather states such as New York. This model features indoor dining rooms, patio seating and drive-through lanes. Sonic also does locations at travel plazas. They usually take the form of endcaps with no drive-in stalls. You can also find counter-service locations in airports and other busy areas. Sonic can also convert existing buildings into models that work for the situation.

Why Choose Us?

Sonic is a good choice for several reasons. First, it gives franchisees extensive support. It has high requirements and expectations, and if you’re selected to open one (or several) units, you can count on a good amount of quality assistance in areas such as strategy, technology, innovation, advertising power and operational excellence. Also interesting is the fact that you can open nontraditional locations in airports, college campuses and small towns. There are various franchise models to meet your needs and budgets. The required liquid capital and net worth amounts are on the high end, but you can include your business partner’s assets in the figures.

Sonic has its roots in the 1950s, but it is a forward-looking company. To that end, it invests wisely in technology. For example, it offers mobile ordering and is working on tailoring messages, specials and promotions to specific people.

Ideal Candidate

Sonic is specific about who it’d like to see apply for franchises. Namely, the company seeks business owners with multi-unit franchises already under their belts and who have robust levels of liquidity and net worth. It asks for the following: franchisee experience, multi-unit experience preferred, restaurant background for at least one operating partner, management and entrepreneurial skills, community involvement and retail sales experience.

Other than that, President Claudia San Pedro says, “We are looking for franchisees who want to be part of a family-oriented culture with a can-do entrepreneurial attitude.”


Sonic stands out among fast food restaurants because of its drive-in stalls. Customers park in a stall, order their food, and it is delivered to them. They can stay in their cars to eat if they want. This idea of ordering from cars harkens back to the 1950s, a decade in which cars meant freedom for Americans. Troy Smith, one of the founders of Sonic, wanted to develop a business to capitalize on this love affair with cars. He and his business partner Charles Pappe opened a chain of root beer stands called Top Hat. The first was in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The business took off, but the name Top Hat was already trademarked. So, Smith and Pappe changed the names of the restaurants to Sonic for “Service at the Speed of Sound.”

Pappe died in 1967, but the franchise was in good hands with Smith. The restaurants expanded from their home state of Oklahoma to Kansas and then Texas and Arkansas. Sonic had 1,000 locations by 1978 and went public in 1991. In 2018, Inspire Brands bought Sonic for $2.3 billion. Inspire’s other companies include Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s. Claudia San Pedro, Sonic’s president before the sale, continues to serve as president, and Sonic is privately held. Sonic has restaurants in 44 states and is focusing on international expansion in countries such as Qatar and Bahrain.

Training And Support

Sonic's training program includes an extensive training platform and ongoing education.

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