Do you want to start a restaurant business by buying Sonics franchise? If YES, here is how much it cost to open a Sonics franchise and their requirement.

Sonic Restaurant started as a small, local, trend-reliant burger joint in the United States, but over time it grew into a large, national symbol in the quick-service industry. Starting out mainly as a root beer stand in small-town Oklahoma, Sonic Drive-In has proven that the drive-in restaurant model, unlike its movie theater counterpart, can wade the rough seas of the restaurant industry and still stay afloat.

While the brand still embraces its nostalgic character, it doesn’t rely on it fully and has instead continued to establish itself in the industry. Today, the Sonic brand is the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants.

Sonic Offers Two Types of Franchises

Sonic offers both a traditional and non-traditional license agreement. The term of a traditional license is 20 years with the option of 10 years renewal. The term of a non-traditional license agreement ranges from 5 to 10 years, plus a 5-year renewal option. The options enumerated are as follows;

  • A Traditional Sonic restaurant is a free-standing, one-story building with surrounding parking stalls covered by canopies, providing in-car service for approximately 8 to 24 cars.

Many Sonic restaurants also incorporate drive-through service and patio seating, and some may provide an enclosed patio or indoor seating. Traditional Sonic Drive-Ins also include restaurants that are co-branded at facilities such as convenience stores and travel plazas.

  • A Non-Traditional Sonic location is a restaurant other than a Traditional Sonic Drive-In in locations such as (1) military and other governmental facilities; (2) educational facilities; (3) sports and entertainment venues; (4) shopping centers and industrial facilities; (5) airports and other transportation facilities; and (6) and other public facilities.

The license fee for a traditional Sonic restaurant is $45,000, with a total investment ranging from $1.24 million to $3.54 million (excluding land). The license fee for a non-traditional Sonic restaurant is $22,500, with a total investment ranging from $356,500 to $977,300 (excluding land).

The net worth of a partner can be used toward the total net worth/liquidity requirements. The term of a SONIC franchise ranges from 10 – 20 years, plus a 10-year renewal option. There is a royalty fee of 5% of gross earning payable to Sonic.

It typically takes six to eight months to get a Sonic site secured. Once the site selection is complete and construction and build-out of your Sonic restaurant begins, it takes an average of 100 days to open your Sonic location, depending on the area and model.

Sonic’s corporate office has a full support team and services available to franchisees, such as helpful demographic data and in-depth site analytics, to make the entire site selection and construction process as smooth and profitable as possible for franchisees.

It typically takes six to eight months to secure a site. Once site selection is complete and construction and build-out begin, it takes an average of 90 days to open your Sonic Drive-In franchise.

Models of the Sonic Franchise

  • SONIC Drive-In Franchise

Sonic’s original drive-in model is a standard store layout that typically features 8 to 16 drive-in stalls, a drive-thru and patio seating.  A traditional Sonic requires a site that is approximately ¾ of an acre for optimum build-out.

  • SONIC Indoor Dining Model

As SONIC expanded into northern climates, such as in upstate New York, they adapted their original store design to meet customer needs. They designed indoor dining rooms that are suited for the colder weather. The Indoor Dining Model offers patio seating, as well as a drive-thru, and requires fewer drive-in stalls.

  • SONIC Travel Plaza Model

SONIC end-cap units are travel plazas built on busy thoroughfares for travelers looking for familiar dining options that are consistently high-quality and high-value. This model typically does not include the familiar parking stalls and canopies found in the traditional SONIC Drive-In.

  • SONIC Conversion Model

Sonic also works with franchisees to convert existing restaurant facilities into a Sonic restaurant in the most cost-effective way possible, utilizing the existing kitchen, dining area and patron restroom facilities. In some instances, converting an existing building is best if the site location is determined to be optimal in a particular area.

  • SONIC Counter-Service Model

The counter-service model does well in airports and busy mall and campus food courts where foot traffic is high. This model is true to their strong branding and stellar food quality and customer service.

Estimated Initial Investment for a Sonic Franchise 

Besides the financial ability to open a Sonic, a variety of attributes make up the ideal Sonic franchisee. These attributes include; strong business acumen; restaurant experience and/or franchise experience, preferably as a multi-unit operator; a people person; and someone deeply involved in their local community. These are what it will typically cost you to open a Sonic franchise.

Traditional SONIC Drive-In

  • Franchise Fee – $45,000 to $45,000
  • Payroll – $56,000 to $137,500
  • Training, travel and Living Expenses while Training – $5,000 to $33,500
  • A-Team Trainers – $44,000 to $92,000
  • Advertising Funds – $2,000 to $5,000
  • Beginning Inventory – $30,000 to $140,000
  • Security Deposits, impact fees for utilities, utility deposits, business license and other prepaid expenses – $2,000 to $250,000
  • Insurance Premiums – $10,000 to $20,000
  • Additional Funds (Three Months) – $5,000 to $25,000
  • Miscellaneous Pre-Opening Costs – $5,000 to $58,300
  • Land – Variable
  • Building and Site Work – $750,000 to 2,300,000
  • Restaurant Equipment – $175,000 to $260,000
  • Point of Sale System (POS) and Digital Menu Housings (POPS) – $82,800 to $135,000
  • Sonic Sign – $25,000 to $35,000
  • TOTAL ESTIMATED INITIAL INVESTMENT (excluding land costs) – $1,236,800 to $3,536,300
  • Optional – Indoor Seating – $125,000 to $220,000

Estimated Initial Investment for a Non-Traditional SONIC Drive

  • Franchise Fee – $22,500 to $22,500
  • Payroll – $56,000 to $137,500
  • Training, travel and Living Expenses while Training – $5,000 to $33,500
  • A-Team Trainers – $44,000 to $92,000
  • Advertising Funds – $2,000 to $5,000
  • Beginning Inventory – $30,000 to $140,000
  • Security Deposits, impact fees for utilities, utility deposits, business license and other prepaid expenses – $7,500
  • Insurance Premiums – $10,000 to $20,000
  • Additional Funds (Three Months) – $5,000 to $25,000
  • Miscellaneous Pre-Opening Costs – $5,000 to $58,300
  • Real Estate Rent – $15,000 to $48,000
  • Improvements – $150,000
  • Equipment – $120,000 to $185,000
  • Point of Sale System (POS) and other Technology – $42,000 to $53,000
  • TOTAL ESTIMATED INITIAL INVESTMENT – $356,500 to $977,300

How to Open a Sonic Franchise

Step 1: Request Information

The very first thing to do if you want to open a Sonic franchise is to contact the restaurant. You need to go to their website and fill out the form on the page. When that is done, someone from the team will get in touch with you.

Step 2: Informal Phone Interview

After submitting your request form, a member of their Franchise Sales and Development team will call you to discuss your intentions, as well as your financial qualifications and answer any questions you may have.

Step 3: FDD Receipt and Review

If it’s determined that you are a good potential fit for the Sonic franchisee family, you will receive the Franchise Disclosure Document. This document contains all the necessary information about your future Sonic restaurant so you can make a more informed decision.

Step 4: In-Person Meeting

Following these initial steps, an in-person meeting is scheduled with the franchise development team to further discuss the opportunity in your territory and requirements needed to open a Sonic restaurant.

Step 5: Qualification and Approval

Final business approval steps are taken, including finishing the credit approval process. You will be asked to put together a business plan and fill out a credit application, as well as a background check.

Step 6: Franchise Discovery Meeting

If you have made it this far and you qualify, Sonic will invite you to a Franchise Discovery Meeting at their headquarters in Oklahoma City, not far from the original Sonic Drive-In location in Shawnee. They are a relationship brand, so they want to ensure that they start that relationship on your first day.

You will meet members of Sonic’s stakeholders and key decision makers, including representatives from development, technology, marketing, real estate and construction and operations.

Step 7: Signing Your SONIC Agreement

This is where you get to sign the agreement that would bring you fully into the Sonic family. These strategic steps were put in place to ensure that the opening of your Sonic restaurant goes as smoothly as possible. From the time you sign on to the time you open your restaurant is a one-year to 18-month process.

Step 8: Site Secured and Construction/Build-out Begins

Sonic offers a full suite of services to franchisees to assist them every step of the way. You will also be introduced to the business and operations training programs, service team recruitment, training and development, marketing and PR support and other opportunities to help you reach your sales goals. Average build-out takes 90 days, depending on the part of the county in which you are opening.

How Much Does It Cost to Open Sonics Franchise?