Sonic Drive-In Franchise Startup Cost, Profit & Opportunities

Founded in 1953 by Troy Smith Sr. Sonic Drive-In opened its franchising doors for business in 1959 but not before entering into a partnership with Charlie Pappe.

This franchise opportunity provides exceptional restaurant services which include breakfast, beverages, and ice cream.

Little wonder it’s currently ranked #4 on Entrepreneur franchise 500.

Any Reason To Become A Sonic Drive-In Franchisee?

There are several. According to this franchisor, franchise owners saw an average growth sales-by-store of $1,265,000 up from $1,072,000 in 2018. Its number of stores has also shot through the roof in recent years.

Currently, Sonic Drive-In has over 3,600 franchise locations and counting. It is looking to expand to new international and domestic locations. This could be your opportunity to become part of something big.

Sonic Drive-In Start-Up Costs

The financial requirements for owning this franchise opportunity includes an estimated initial investment (for its traditional franchise units) between $1,236,800 to $3,536,300. However, this excludes land costs.

Non-traditional Sonic Drive-In units have an estimated initial investment between $356,500 to $977,000.

To have a better understanding of what the estimated initial investment constitutes, it will be necessary to breakdown the costs further. Starting with an initial investment for traditional units, there is;

  • Traditional Sonic Drive-In Cost Breakdown

The franchise fee starts at $45,000, while the payroll ranges from $56,600 to $137,500. There are also training, traveling & living expenses (covering the duration of training) with an estimated low and high of $5,000 and $33,500 respectively. A-Team trainers will cost between $44,000 to $92,000. Advertising funds range from $2,000 to $5,000 while beginning inventory will range between $30,000 to $140,000.

There are security deposits, impact fees for utilities, utility deposits, prepaid expenses and business licenses with costs ranging from $2,000 to $250,000. Insurance premiums have a low and high of $10,000 and $20,000 respectively. You’ll be needing additional funds of about $5,000 to $25,000 for 3 months.

There are miscellaneous pre-opening costs from $5,000 to $58,300. Building and site work will cost anywhere between $750,000 to $2,300,000. Restaurant equipment costs ranges from $175,000 to $260,000. POS and digital menu housings start at $82,800 to $135,000. Sonic sign costs between $25,000 to $35,000. Indoor seating is optional. However, if you choose it, it will cost anywhere between $125,000 to $220,000.

  • Non-Traditional Sonic Drive-In Cost Breakdown

The non-traditional Sonic Drive-In franchise model typically costs less than the traditional model. Start-up costs include a $22,500, payroll takes up between $56,000 and $137,500 while traveling, training & living expenses during the training period will cost between $5,000 to $33,500.

A-team trainers will cost you anywhere from $44,000 to $92,000, advertising funds ranges from $2,000 to $5,000, while beginning inventory will start at $30,000 to $140,000. There’s are security deposits, impact fees for utilities, utility deposits, business license and other prepaid expenses with an estimated high of $7,500.

Insurance premiums will cost about $10,000 to $20,000. Between $5,000 to $25,000 of additional funds for 3 months will be required. This is apart from miscellaneous pre-opening costs of between $5,000 to $58,300. Real estate rent will range from $15,000 to $48,000.

Improvements has a high of $150,000, equipment between $120,000 to $185,000, POS system and other technology costs $42,000 to $53,000. All of these costs totaled will make an estimated initial investment of $356,500 to $977,300.

Sonic Drive-In Franchise Models

Sonic Drive-In franchise has created a variety of models to fit all kinds of markets. These are customized to specific needs and will help in no small measure in boosting the profit potentials of its franchisees. There’s a growing demand for drive-in Sonic restaurants.

This has birthed the various drive-in concepts which franchisees can choose based on their specific market needs. Such models include

  • Sonic Traditional Drive-In Franchise

The traditional drive-in franchise model is the core of its business. The design concept of its traditional stores includes about 8 to 16 drive-in stalls, patio seating, and a drive-thru. This requires a greater land space for construction (about 3/4 of an acre).

  • Sonic Travel Plaza Model

This model of sonic stores are built along busy roads and are a sure bet for capturing a segment of the market that is always on the move. This is the best option for franchisees who prefer to locate their business along such major routes.

  • Sonic Indoor Dining Model

Sonic developed this concept to cater to the needs of clients in cold weather. Dining rooms under this model are designed to be indoors. This offers patio seating in addition to a drive-thru. However, the Sonic indoor dining model requires lesser drive-in stalls.

  • Sonic Counter-Service Model

The sonic counter-service model is ideal for areas with high foot traffic. There are many such locations, a few of which include malls, campus food courts, airports and a host of other locations. The franchisee’s location will determine what model will be best for them.

The franchisor may also choose to recommend an ideal franchise model.

  • Sonic Conversion Model

Franchisees can work with Sonic franchise to transform an existing restaurant into a Sonic restaurant. Also, the costs involved are considerably low. Optimal site locations within a particular area will influence the choice of this option.

The Application Process

Applying for a SONIC Drive-In franchise opportunity is quite easy and takes only a few steps. First, you must request for information by filling and submitting its online form. A member of the franchise team calls back using the information provided for further discussions.

Here, you’ll have to let the franchisor known of your intention. All this is done on the phone. Plus, you get to ask as many questions as you wish about the franchise.

Next, having concluded that you are a good fit for the franchisee, you get presented with the franchise disclosure document (the FDD). All the information you need about the franchisor can be found in this document. Having reviewed the document, an in-person meeting is scheduled with Sonic’s franchise development team for detailed discussions.

This leads to approval with an additional requirement to create a business plan in addition to credit application and background checks. A franchise discovery meeting is held, followed by a signing of the franchise agreement and lastly, construction and training commence.

The processes involved in applying for a Sonic franchise aren’t as complex as many would think. The information contained here has been summarized to help the reader find out what needs to be done to kick-start the ownership process.