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Service at the Speed of Sound: Mobile Order Ahead a Success for SONIC

April 3, 2019
By Raj Prashad

When SONIC Drive-In piloted its mobile order ahead capability during the spring of 2018, it was reminiscent of a time 60 years ago when guests first pulled into a stall, pushed the iconic button and placed their order over the intercom.

“There has been a heritage of innovation around the brand since the beginning,” said Jon Dorch, Vice President of Integrated Customer Experience for SONIC.

Bringing order ahead capability to millions of guests first began as an idea as part of SONIC’s Integrated Customer Engagement (ICE) initiative. ICE laid out a vision for how its guests could interact with drive-ins across the country through an updated mobile app. And, according to QSR Magazine, the initiative “might just be the most dynamic strategy in the brand’s history to date.”

“We are extremely guest-experience focused. So when we started looking at opportunities for our mobile app and Mobile Order Ahead, we recognized that SONIC had some competitive advantages over others in the QSR space,” said Jon.

SONIC Mobile App

SONIC Mobile App

Two of the most notable public-facing accomplishments from ICE was first, in 2016 and 2017, when SONIC began by installing touchscreen displays at all of its 3,600-plus restaurants across the country. And most recently, in 2018, with the national roll-out of mobile order ahead capability.

Guests simply place their order through the mobile app, pull into any SONIC drive-in, and hit “check-in” on their phone once they’ve arrived at any stall. The stall’s digital touchscreen automatically displays the guest’s name and order status, and typically, the food is delivered in two minutes or less.

“With SONIC and our 25-40 stalls at each drive-in, guests are first in line every time.” Jon Dorch, Vice President of Integrated Customer Experience, SONIC

Today, more than 100,000 orders are placed using the mobile app every day.

“People won’t use something if it isn’t built around their needs,” Jon added. “But we feel that SONIC does a great job of meeting those needs. This connected ecosystem allows SONIC to deliver a personalized experience that can respond to guest behaviors as they happen.”

For the brand, technological innovation isn’t stopping at Mobile Order Ahead. SONIC is committed to continuing to evolve the experience as it explores adding features such as tipping, enhanced offers and new payment methods.

“This app places us among the most innovative brands in the QSR segment, and it will increase our ability to win market share in the communities we serve.” Doug Cook, Vice President of Brand Technology, SONIC