Signing out of account, Standby...
- 2022 Franchise 500 Rank
#38 Ranked #28 last year
- Initial investment
$1.2M - $3.5M
- Units as of 2021
3,534 1.5% over 3 years
Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Sonic Drive-In franchise.
With more than 3,400 locations and millions of customers served, Sonic Drive-In may be one of America’s most iconic drive-in fast-food restaurants.
If you own a Sonic Drive-In franchise, you’ll be able to say that your restaurant serves everything from foot-long chili cheese dogs to juicy burgers to famous milkshakes. The extensive menu may make it one of the best franchised fast food restaurants. Its drive-in concept is widely known, even to customers who haven’t tried Sonic Drive-In. To these customers who have yet to try Sonic Drive-In, your location could serve as their first Sonic Drive-In experience!
Why You May Want to Start a Sonic Drive-In Franchise
With a proven business model, owning a Sonic Drive-In franchise may mean that you have a real opportunity to succeed as a franchisee. The franchise is proud to support franchisees, giving you the satisfaction of owning a family-friendly restaurant while maintaining a heightened business sense.
The franchise reviews individual stores’ sales performance to optimize efficiency. They strive to make their advertising appealing and colorful. Furthermore, with a menu that follows the B.L.A.D.E. (Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon, Dinner, Evening) model, Sonic Drive-In can serve its customers all day long. With the franchise likely already having established everything you may need, you're ready to go with exposure to nationwide brand recognition and executive insight.
Even though the ideal Sonic Drive-In candidate has experience running other restaurant franchises, this shouldn’t dissuade candidates from opening a location. What is most important for a candidate is that they have a strong go-getter attitude. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit will likely fit right in with the Sonic Drive-In family.
What Might Make a Sonic Drive-In Franchise a Good Choice?
To be part of the Sonic Drive-In team, you should make sure you’re financially ready for an initial investment made up of a franchise fee and other startup costs. You should also prepare yourself for ongoing fees that may include advertising, royalty, and potential renewal fees. Franchisees will also need to meet the company's set net worth and liquid capital requirements.
Sonic Drive-In has been a high-ranker in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 many times in the past several decades. This ranking is based on an evaluation of more than 150 data points in the areas of costs and fees, size and growth, franchisee support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability.
How to Open a Sonic Drive-In Franchise
To open a Sonic Drive-In franchise, the first step is to request information. Once you’ve filled out the form, a franchise sales and department team member may conduct an informal interview. This will serve as your opportunity to express your intentions and financial qualifications.
If they think you’ll fit in well with the Sonic Drive-In franchise team, they’ll send you their Franchise Disclosure Document. This document contains more information about the brand for you to take into consideration. You will then have an in-person meeting with the franchise development team. Team members will look at franchise opportunities in your area and tell you what you need to do to physically open a location.
If you qualify, you’ll go to the Sonic Drive-In headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You will meet Sonic Drive-In’s stakeholders and representatives from various departments. You may soon be able to be part of the Sonic Drive-In network of franchisees!
Soon, your location will be roller skating food for hungry customers!
About Sonic Drive-In
- Franchising Since
- 1959 (63 years)
- # of employees at HQ
- Where seeking
This company is seeking new franchisees throughout the US.
- # of Units
- 3,534 (as of 2021)
Information for Franchisees
Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in opening a Sonic Drive-In franchise.
Financial Requirements & Ongoing Fees
Here’s what you can expect to spend to start the business and what ongoing fees the franchisor charges throughout the life of the business.
- Initial Franchise Fee
Definition: The initial fee paid to a franchisor to join their system
What you need to know: Found in Item 5 of the FDD, this may be a flat fee, or may vary based on territory size, experience, or other factors.The franchise fee is an up-front (one-time) cost that a new franchisee pays to the franchisor. This fee is usually due at the signing of the franchise agreement and covers the right to use the franchisor's trademarks, name, and related business systems.
- Initial Investment
- $1,242,200 - $3,537,700
Definition: The total amount necessary to begin operation of the franchise
What you need to know: The initial investment includes the franchise fee, along with other startup expenses such as real estate, equipment, supplies, business licenses, and working capital. This is outlined in a chart in Item 7 of the FDD, showing a range of possible costs from low to high.
- Net Worth Requirement
- $1,000,000 - $2,000,000
Definition: The minimum net worth you must have in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company
What you need to know: Net worth is the value of a person's assets minus liabilities. Assets include cash, stocks, retirement accounts, and real estate. Liabilities include items like mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt.
- Cash Requirement
- $500,000 - $1,000,000
Definition: The minimum liquid capital you must have available in order to qualify to become a franchisee of this company.
- Royalty Fee
Definition: A ongoing fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis.
What you need to know: Most franchisors require franchisees to pay an ongoing royalty fee, which is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD. This fee is typically a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales, but may also be a flat weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Ad Royalty Fee
Definition: An going fee paid to the franchisor on a regular basis to support advertising or marketing efforts.
What you need to know: This may also be called advertising fee, marketing fee, brand fund fee, and more, but the basic purpose is the same-- to support promotion of the brand systemwide. As with the royalty fee, it is detailed in Item 6 of the FDD, and can be a percentage of weekly or monthly gross sales or a weekly, monthly, or annual fee.
- Term of Agreement
- 20 years
Definition: The length of time your franchise agreement will last.
What you need to know: Franchise terms are typically anywhere from 5 to 20 years in length, but are sometimes instead dependent on factors such as the term of your lease. Once your term is up, you may have the option to renew your agreement, typically for a smaller fee than the original franchise fee.
- Is franchise term renewable?
Training & Support Offered
Franchisors offer initial training programs and a variety of ongoing support options to help franchisees run their businesses.
- On-The-Job Training
- 400 hours
- Classroom Training
- 24 hours
- Additional Training
- At existing franchise location
- Ongoing Support
Purchasing Co-opsNewsletterMeetings & ConventionsToll-Free LineGrand OpeningSecurity & Safety ProceduresFranchisee Intranet Platform
- Marketing Support
Co-op AdvertisingAd TemplatesNational MediaRegional AdvertisingMarketing Planning & SupportSocial MediaSEOEmail MarketingLoyalty Program/App
Additional details about running this franchise.
- Is absentee ownership allowed?
Definition: Absentee ownership means that the franchisee does not actively work in the franchise business or manage day-to-day operations.
- Can this franchise be run from home/mobile unit?
Definition: The business can be run from your home and/or a vehicle, and it is not necessary to have a retail facility, office space, or warehouse.
- Can this franchise be run part time?
Definition: This business can be run by the owner on a part-time basis (less than 40 hours per week) and/or as a side business; it is not necessary for the business to be open/run full-time.
- # of employees required to run
- Are exclusive territories available?
Definition: An exclusive territory is a fixed area in which you are given the right to operate and in which no other units of the same franchise may be opened.
What you need to know: Territory size may be based on factors such as radius, population size, zip codes, and more. Details can be found in Item 12 of the FDD.
Franchise 500 Ranking History
Compare where Sonic Drive-In landed on this year’s Franchise 500 Ranking versus previous years.
Curious to know where Sonic Drive-In ranked on other franchise lists? Find out below.
Are you eager to see what else is out there? Browse more franchises that are similar to Sonic Drive-In.
Related Franchise Content
Catch up on the latest franchise news, trends, and more.
'Entrepreneur' editor-in-chief Jason Feifer sat down with 'Bar Rescue' host Jon Taffer to discuss his new book, 'The Power of Conflict,' in which he shares illuminating insights on running a business, maintaining consistency in franchising and where to put your money when it comes to marketing.
Back in 2018, Eric Mason made headlines when he began paying his employees a "living wage." On this side of the great recession, his experience could be a roadmap for other fast food franchises.
No commute? No problem. Home-based and mobile franchises are an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to franchise, but stay close to home.
Don't forget to support your local franchisees during National Small Business Week. Here's how these five franchisees thrive as small business owners and inspire their communities.