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SONIC Leadership Addresses 2019 National Convention

September 20, 2019
By Raj Prashad

As Claudia San Pedro addressed more than 3,000 SONIC franchisees, general managers and restaurant team members on stage at the 2019 SONIC National Convention in Austin, Texas, the brand president reflected on a year of outstanding results. It’s the passion for the brand from those attendees and many others, Claudia said, that was the driving force behind SONIC’s banner year.

“The SONIC experience starts with you, and it impacts every aspect of our brand.” Claudia San Pedro, President of SONIC

Looking ahead to continued success, Claudia pointed to the brand’s commitment to be operator-focused, consumer-led and data-driven while delivering its promise to spark moments of delightful possibility for guests every day. She also laid the framework for maintaining momentum from the past year by continuing to introduce new menu items at value.

“Product innovation, crave, and value helps us drive great results. We’re uniquely positioned, because SONIC has menu items that others in the quick service restaurant industry do not,” Claudia said.

Moving forward, there is plenty of excitement about what the future holds. From introducing new components to the SONIC Mobile App’s Order Ahead feature to refining who the SONIC guest is, Claudia is looking forward to another standout year for the brand in 2020.

“It is the joy of a lifetime for me to work with this team to build SONIC in this next generation,” Claudia said.

“We have an opportunity to grow the brand and deliver an incredible year of sales and profits, and we can do it together.”

Eddie Saroch, Senior Vice President of Franchise Relations

At SONIC, developing relationships and supporting the communities each drive-in serves is a way of life. So, it’s no surprise the brand accomplished an all-time high in guest satisfaction in 2019. But Eddie and his team want to continue building the drive-in as a place where guests can come for a getaway from the daily grind to enjoy moments of carefree indulgence.

To support the brand in delivering the best guest experience, Eddie laid out initiatives to provide more field training classes, enhance the Dr Pepper SONIC Games experience, and revamp team member eLearning tools.

“SONIC’s drive-in model provides us a unique opportunity to set ourselves apart from the competition in a major way. We need to leverage that in order to deliver the best experience to our guests. And that starts with our restaurant team members consistently delivering fresh food quickly to every guest,” Eddie said.

“When we couple fast with friendly, we provide a ‘wow’ experience. And that is the key to being best in guest service.”

Lori Abou Habib, Chief Marketing Officer

Over the last year, Lori and the marketing team have worked diligently to create innovative menu items that spark delightful moments and unparalleled personalization at drive-ins across the country.

“Our guests are looking for indulgent, high-quality menu items. We’re focused on bringing to life the idea of summer as a feeling and not a season through distinctive breakfast and snack occasions, while driving innovation around more premium occasions for dinner,” said Lori.

To bring awareness to these new menu items, SONIC has relied on driving incredible efficiency in its ad placement, both on social media and through traditional platforms.

“We punch above our weight in ad awareness, beating out some of the biggest brands in QSR,” Lori said. “We are cultivating a best-in-class approach to presenting the brand in a way that is suited for each channel, social or digital, and the guest using that channel.”

Innovation also includes refining Mobile Order Ahead while continuously enhancing the guest experience. During a panel discussion with SONIC’s Integrated Customer Engagement team, Lori discussed how they’ve added to the mobile experience after effectively going from zero to 27 billion Mobile Order Ahead payments in just 12 months.

Led by vice president of integrated customer experience, Jon Dorch, the team conducted discussions with guests, operators and combed through more than 30,000 reviews on the app store to make informed updates to Mobile Order Ahead.

“We’re thrilled to be working on Mobile Order Ahead projects, both large and small,” said Jon. “Updates we’re rolling out include the ability to favorite a location so guests don’t order at the wrong drive-in and the ability to customize the amount of ice in guests’ drinks. These are just a few examples of how we’ve listened to feedback and made adjustments to enhance the guest experience.”

By continuing to innovate not only across the menu, but in the digital landscape, Lori is confident her team is building a strong foundation for SONIC for years to come.

“By focusing on the guest, being data-led, guest-informed and operator-focused, SONIC is going to be unstoppable,” Lori said.