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Is Sonic Drive In a Franchise? Cost and Profit Analysis

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What requirements must one meet to open a Sonic franchise? One of America’s most prominent drive-in fast food restaurants, Sonic Drive-In has more than 3,400 locations and serves millions of consumers. If you are anytime planning to own a Sonic drive-in, then your restaurant will sell everything from foot-long chili cheese dogs to juicy burgers to renowned milkshakes. It might be one of the best franchised fast food restaurants because of the broad menu. Even customers who haven’t tried Sonic Drive-In are familiar with the drive-in idea. Your location might be these customers’ first Sonic Drive-In experience for those who have been waiting to taste the quality you would probably own. 

What is the Sonic Drive-In Restaurant?

The American quick-serve restaurant chain Sonic Drive-IN offers carnival-themed menu items. Sonic franchises are large and growing, and they have perfect locations and available land in all 50 states. 

The Sonic Drive-In restaurant is a fun place to go for food. The drive-in is open 24 hours a day, so you can stop by any time. You can order food inside or you can order food and go outside to eat it. There are a lot of options for food. You can get hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and more. The prices are reasonable, and the food is always good. Sonic Drive-In is a great place to go for a quick meal. The restaurant is always clean, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. I highly recommend Sonic Drive-In to anyone looking for a quick, affordable meal.

How old is the Sonic Drive-In Franchise Restaurant?

The Sonic Drive-in Restaurant is now 69 years old. 

Is Sonic a Franchise Opportunity?

A solid investment with an eye toward the future, the Sonic franchise is supported by innovative leadership, powerful national advertising, and operational excellence. They are more than just an iconic brand. By providing a distinctive fast food experience that involves parking in a covered drive-in stall, placing your order over a speaker, and then receiving service from a valet attendant on roller skates, Sonic Drive in competes within its market.

Facts That Nobody Told You About Sonic

The majority of Sonic Drive-Ins provide drive-thru service and outdoor seating, and some even have indoor or enclosed seating options.

Sonic Franchise Information
Industry TypeFood Franchise Opportunities
Sub CategoryBurger Franchise Opportunities
Year Established1953
Company NameSonic Drive-In
Founder/Management HeadClaudia San Pedro, President
Franchising Started1959
Employees at Company H.Q3,000
Franchise Expansion PlanPlanning to open franchises throughout the US. 
Number of Units3,552
Number of Franchise Units3232
Social Media HandlesFacebook
Company Office locationAtlanta, Georgia

Sonic Franchise Requirements

For a typical Sonic, the total investment ranges from $1.02 to $1.77 million, with the franchise fee being $45,000. (excluding land). The complete net worth/liquidity requirements may be satisfied with a partner’s net worth. 

A typical Sonic franchise has a 20-year tenure with an additional 10-year renewal. The franchise also needs to have experience in restaurant background with multi-unit experience preferable by the franchisor. 

One needs to have the ability to manage the team well and possess leadership with strong business/ entrepreneurial skills. The best key to running a franchise is to have an active community and workspace. This is what is expected of a Sonic franchisee. 

sonic franchise

How much does a Sonic Drive-in franchise cost

The total estimated Sonic franchise cost ranges from $865,000 to $3.64 million (excluding land) and the fee is $45,000. The complete net worth/liquidity requirements may be satisfied with a partner’s net worth. It’s the same cost of the Sonic franchise in the US. 

Sonic Drive-in Franchise Initial and On-going Franchise Cost
Sonic Franchise Fee$45,000
Sonic Franchise Cost$1,242,200 to $3,537,700 
Royalty Fee5%
Advertising Fee0.9%
Term of Agreement20 years
Is the franchise term renewable?Yes,
Renewal Feeis 20% of the license price. 


Sonic Drive-in Restaurant Training to Franchises

The current training program for the franchisee comprises  440 hours of technical training at a Sonic restaurant that the franchisor chooses.  Within six months of taking the management role, at least one full-time manager must complete the general manager leadership class training to the franchisor’s satisfaction. 

Along with station classes and the assistant manager learning development program, the franchisor also offers management professionals additional self-directed continuous training courses, online training, and webinars.

Sonic Restaurant Operations 

The restaurant must always have at least one person working there full-time who has finished the training program that was in effect at the time. Franchisees are required to serve every item on the menu that the franchisor periodically requests, refrain from serving anything that is not included in the operations manual or that the franchisor has not otherwise authorised and approved, and only display and offer the menu that the franchisor has approved at that time.

How is Sonic Franchise Territory Granted

With some exclusions, the franchisor will not own or operate a Sonic restaurant within the restaurant’s protected region, and will not provide any other person a license to do so. (other than a Sonic restaurant licensed prior to the date of the licensing or agreement). 

sonic franchise

What is Sonic Franchise Term of Agreement and Renewal?

The first franchise term for non-traditional locations is 20 years, or a lesser of 10 years, the term of the facility lease, or both. If the conditions are met, a traditional Sonic is renewed for one more 10-year period.

Does Sonic Franchise provide Financial Assistance?

No, unfortunately, Sonic franchises do not provide any financial assistance to their franchisees. 

Pros & Cons of owning Sonic Drive in Franchise


  1. One of the most distinctive concepts in the QSR sector, the Sonic Drive-in experience delivers customization, control, and choice.
  2. One of the most well-known and effective QSR ad campaigns in history, Sonic’s Two Guys gave franchisees instant brand recognition and unmatched advertising power on opening day and beyond.
  3. A franchisee that opens in a new location now has a national advertising campaign working for them thanks to Sonic’s continuously growing market share.


  1. Unfortunately, they do not offer any kind of financing to their franchisees. 
  2. You may need to employ many employees for operating your store as it needs a lot of manpower. 

sonic franchise

How much do Sonic franchise owners make?

According to the 2020 fdd, the Sonic drive-in franchise owners make $1.37 million in revenue every year and with a profit margin of 18 to 22%, you can make a profit of $320,000.

The sonic franchise owner salary is around $95,000 as per the company records.

Sonic Franchise Rankings

  • For the tenth year running, Forbes recognised Sonic Drive in as one of the “200 Best Small Companies in America” in 2003.
  • In QSR Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Biggest Brands in America for 2020, Sonic Drive-In is ranked number 14.

Sonic Drive-in Franchise Owner Reviews

 In order to get the most out of your Sonic experience, here are some tips from the owner.

1. Arrive Early

One of the best ways to enjoy your Sonic experience is to arrive early. This allows you to get a good spot in the parking lot and avoid the long lines that tend to form later in the day.

2. Order Wisely

When you arrive at your Sonic, take a few minutes to peruse the menu. This way, you can order the food that you really enjoy and avoid anything.

Other than food reviews and ordering methods, you should meet the Sonic Drive-in franchise owners and find answers to questions like 

  1. How much is a sonic franchise?
  2. How much does a sonic franchise cost?
  3. How much does it cost to own a Sonic franchise?
  4. How much to open a Sonic franchise?
  5. How much to start a Sonic Franchise?
  6. Who owns Sonic Franchise?

Meet the franchises before you buy a Sonic franchise.

Franchise Deck Analysis and Overview

There are very high chances that many people will visit your store out of curiosity about you or because they already know who you are and need to satiate their appetites. This is the effectiveness of national advertising campaigns that run on television, radio, and the internet. 

The sonic drive-in has definite plans to expand more than just US. The inside and exterior designs of Sonic Drive-In also have that ageless, retro-futuristic diner aesthetic. Hence these are all really good reasons for you to think of buying a Sonic franchises if you are keenly into the fast-food industry. 

According to other industry data, franchise owners’ average gross sales were $1,246,000 in 2019. In addition to that, 23% of Sonic Drive-Ins had gross sales of more than $1.5 million in that same year. 

With a Sonic franchise profit of $300 to $350K, it will take 12 to 15 years to recoup the investment mid-point of $2.5 million. I will not recommend this franchise opportunity at this cost. Unless the initial cost is reduced with no impact on sales, you should stay away from Sonic Drive-in.

Is the Sonic Drive-in Franchise Profit Worth the Cost?

Sonic Franchise is not at all worth the profit only if you tend to earn more from their franchises. If you take ownership of multiple franchises, then you earn more amount of money in comparison to the amount of investment you make. 

Sonic Franchise Success and Failure Rate

Sonic franchising has shown an increase in growth by introducing on average 16 units per year. On the other hand, they have also shut down around 36 units a year.

Competition Analysis of Sonic Franchise
Franchise BrandCost to FranchiseFranchisee FeesRoyalty + Ad feesExpected ProfitRecoup of CapitalFD Rating
Sonic $1,242,200 to $3,537,700 $45,0005%3.25%13%14.5 years3.5/5.0
Burger King Franchise$1,790,800 – $4,194,700$50,000
16% 3.8/5.0
$140,050 – $342,400
7.5% 4.0/5.0
KFC$1,440,600 – $3,163,550$45,000
15% n13.5 years3.7/5.0

$790,797 – $2,368,316$30,0004%
15% 3.5/5.0

I rate Sonic franchising is 3.5/5.0.

sonic franchise


The sonic franchise is categorised as one of the very well-maintained fast-food industry. I would let you explore the franchise on your own, either by reaching out to the existing franchise owners or by finding out more detailed information about the franchise. If you are planning to consider this franchise to buy, no doubt it would be a better option as it is one of the leading industry domains, but you may think wisely before you take a final decision. 

Entrepreneurs who want to open a franchise in the burger franchise opportunities category can look at 

  1. Whataburger Franchise 
  2. Mcdonald’s Franchise
  3. Burger King Franchise
  4. Burger Village Franchise 
  5. Hardee’s franchise
  6. 5 guys franchise
  7. Wayback burger franchise 
  8. Wendy’s Franchise

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is the Sonic franchise profitable?

Yes, the Sonic franchises are profitable but you will take 15 years to recoup your investment.

  1. How do Sonic franchises make money?

The Sonic drive-in franchises make money by opening a chain of restaurants and selling fast food like burgers to their customers. 

3 thoughts on “Is Sonic Drive In a Franchise? Cost and Profit Analysis”

  1. Sonic Drive In is a great franchise with so many options to choose from.
    Their menu is always fresh and they offer a wide selection of food items. It’s a great place to get a quick meal or snack on the go.
    The drive-in service is convenient and fast, allowing for quick and easy ordering.

  2. Prices are reasonable and the quality of food is great Sonic Drive In also offers a variety of promotional deals and discounts.
    Kids meals are a great way to save money while still getting a tasty meal.The atmosphere is fun and lively, making it a great place to hang out.
    Sonic Drive In has a great loyalty program that rewards frequent customers.

  3. Prices are reasonable and the quality of food is great. Sonic Drive In also offers a variety of promotional deals and discounts. Kids meals are a great way to save money while still getting a tasty meal. The atmosphere is fun and lively, making it a great place to hang out. Sonic Drive In has a great loyalty program that rewards frequent customers.

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