Updated May 3, 2021.
Detailed Estimates of Sonic Drive-In Franchise Costs Based on Item 7 (Estimated Initial Investment) of Sonic Drive-In’s 2021 Franchise Disclosure Document
Traditional Sonic Drive-In
1. Franchise Fee: $45,000
2. Payroll: $56,000 to $137,500
- The low amount for payroll includes salaries and wages for: (a) one manager during the two-stage training program and during the four-week pre-opening on-site preparation for your Sonic Drive-In; (b) four assistant managers during the five weeks of on-the-job training; (c) two assistant managers during four weeks of on-site new Sonic Drive-In preparation; and (d) the restaurant crew for one week of pre-opening training.
- The high amount for payroll includes salaries and wages for: (a) two managers during the two-stage training program and the four-week pre-opening on-site preparation for your Sonic Drive-In; (b) six assistant managers during the five weeks of on-the-job training; (c) four assistant managers during four weeks of on-site new Sonic Drive-In preparation; and (d) the restaurant crew for one week of pre-opening training.
3. Training, Travel, and Living Expenses While Training: $5,000 to $33,500
- The low amount is for local training and includes mileage and meals for two managers and two assistant managers during the required on-the-job training, new store opening experience, and classroom training.
- The high amount is for two managers’ and four assistant managers’ training plus travel, lodging, and meals.
4. A-Team Trainers: $48,000 to $92,000
- For your first three Sonic Drive-Ins, you may be required to have an A-Team, a certified training team, participate in pre-opening and post-opening.
- You will be responsible for the A-Team’s trainers’ salaries, administrative fees, travel, lodging, and meal expenses for the time they teach and train at your Sonic Drive-In, which is usually three days before opening and a minimum of seven days after opening, for a total of up to two weeks.
- Sonic also suggests a Friends and Family Day prior to opening which is not included in the ranges listed but could increase the cost by as much as $15,000.
5. Advertising Funds: $2,000 to $5,000
6. Beginning Inventory: $30,000 to $140,000
- The costs for opening inventory include paper goods and food products necessary to operate the Sonic Drive-In through the first two weeks of business. Charges for promotion-specific small wares and for inventory may be included in these costs.
7. Security Deposits, Impact Fees for Utilities, Utility Deposits, Business Licenses, and Other Prepaid Expenses: $2,000 to $250,000
- These amounts vary by city.
8. Insurance Premiums: $10,000 to $20,000
- The insurance amounts include the initial premium costs for multi-peril and worker’s compensation insurance based on the recommended staffing of a Sonic Drive-In with 8 to 24 drive-in stalls, a drive-thru, and a patio.
- Worker’s compensation costs vary by state.
9. Additional Funds (three months): $5,000 to $25,000
- The amounts for additional funds exclude the expenses itemized above and include the initial start-up and the first three months of operational expenses for uniforms, office supplies, cleaning supplies, and utensils.
- These figures are estimates, and Sonic cannot guarantee that you will not have additional expenses starting your business. Your costs will depend on factors such as: how diligently you follow Sonic’s methods and procedures, your management skill, economic conditions, and the local competition and market for Sonic’s products.
10. Miscellaneous Pre-Opening Costs: $5,000 to $58,300
- The amounts for miscellaneous pre-opening costs include food and paper during training, room rental, and signs for hiring and occupancy costs.
11. Land: variable
12. Building and Site Work: $750,000 to $2,300,000
- The lot size should be 24,000 to 34,000 square feet, and suitable for constructing a 1,150 to 1,500 square-foot Sonic building with canopies for 8 to 24 drive-in stalls, a drive-thru lane, and patio seating.
- The actual costs will vary materially depending on location, size of lot and building, utilities, site work, and other factors.
- If you choose to lease your site, your negotiated lease terms will determine your monthly cost, which is undeterminable by Sonic.
13. Restaurant Equipment: $175,000 to $260,000
- The amounts for equipment include the cost to purchase and install the recommended equipment package for a Sonic Drive-In with 8 to 24 drive-in stalls, excluding the cost of transportation and sales tax.
- The standard equipment package includes the ventilation system, equipment, kitchen fixtures, appliances, and small wares necessary to operate the Sonic Drive-In.
- Delivery charges for the equipment package are approximately $10.00 per mile, one way. Typically, the equipment installer installs and charges for the equipment installation.
- The sales taxes will vary by location.
- If you choose to lease your equipment, your negotiated lease terms will determine your monthly cost, which is undeterminable by Sonic.
14. Point-of-Sale System (“POS”) and Digital Menu Housings (“POPS”): $84,200 to $136,400
- The amounts include the POS and POPS platforms for a Sonic Drive-In with 8 to 24 stalls, a drive-thru lane, and patio seating. It also includes additional hardware and software payment processing technology and technologies required to support them.
- These amounts do not include electrical costs, shipping, installation, or sales taxes as those may vary greatly depending on the location, building configuration, and number of stalls. Micros and Infor are approved suppliers to provide a POS system for your Sonic Drive-In.
15. Sonic Sign: $25,000 to $35,000
- The amounts for a Sonic sign purchased from an approved source varies with the size and type of signs selected. You may select “enter” and “exit” signs, a “drive-thru” sign if required, an optional building or tower sign, and your large Sonic sign from a group of standard signs containing eight sizes and varying heights (the “sign package”).
- Installation costs are not included and could exceed $14,000.
- Amounts for welding, permits, engineering, and foundation work may also increase your cost.
- You may also purchase an electronic message center reader board, which is typically installed adjacent to your large Sonic sign. The cost for an optional electronic message center reader board ranges from $35,000 to $50,000 plus installation, shipping, and sales taxes.
16. Total Estimated Initial Investment (excluding land costs): $1,242,200 to $3,537,700
- Sonic may establish new or modify existing operating procedures, policies, practices, requirements, and guidelines, which may require you to incur additional expense.
17. Optional – Indoor Seating: $125,000 to $220,000
- If you choose to include optional indoor seating at your Sonic Drive-In, the actual costs will vary materially depending on the size of your indoor dining area, its location, and its finishes.
Non-Traditional Sonic Drive-In
- Estimated Initial Investment: $361,900 to $978,700