As a constantly evolving and innovative brand, it should be no surprise that SONIC Drive-In used the need to shift this year’s annual convention to virtual resulted in a two-day event unlike anything we’ve seen before. Brand President Claudia San Pedro and SONIC leadership hosted more than 1,500 franchisees, franchise employees, suppliers as well as brand and shared services team members using a television network-style approach and fully-produced segments to give updates on what was a year of immense success for the brand.
“Our business is as strong as ever and that’s thanks to our franchisees and drive-in team members who have been hard at work providing great service at the speed of sound,” San Pedro said. “We have integrated technology that is providing a better guest experience with our Mobile Order Ahead platform, continuing to evolve Troy Smith’s vision for the drive-in, and using our framework to be consumer-led, data-driven and operator-focused.”
San Pedro laid out how SONIC continues to be a little oasis in guests’ days — especially throughout 2020 when they needed it the most. She also took that opportunity to thank team members for their efforts every day, while looking toward how the brand takes a step forward in 2021.
“This year has been tough for everyone. It’s been more important than ever for us to deliver on our brand purpose, delivering speed, value and quality every time,” San Pedro said. “Bringing our brand purpose to life starts with culture, our core values and our commitment to serving and supporting each other. I’m so proud of how our teams have continued to support our communities and each other, making sure SONIC is a place where everyone feels valued and creating a space where anyone can make a career. I look forward to building a legacy of leadership and relationships that will propel SONIC into the next generation.”
Lori Abou Habib, Chief Marketing Officer
Thanks to the brand’s one-of-a-kind service model and unique position in fast food, SONIC has continued to build off the success that began in 2018. And that starts with the brand’s focus on QSR fundamentals and continuing to enhance its distinct menu offerings.
“Over the last year, we’ve created momentum for the SONIC brand during these truly unprecedented times,” Lori Abou Habib said. “To build off of that, we’ve taken a hard look at quality expectations of our products, improving ingredients and making execution tighter to consistently exceed guest expectations.”
SONIC also took steps to change how guests perceive the brand in 2020, launching a new brand identity, including a new logo, and change in approach to marketing with a focus on real families, while maintaining the thing fans love most: SONIC’s craveable menu offerings.
“We’ve enhanced what our guests already love about us, whether it was through unique activations like offering our fan-favorite SONIC Ice as an unlimited time offer or delivering convenience and personalization through the SONIC App. We’re continuing to innovate with an eye on making SONIC consistently our guests’ favorite destination.” Abou Habib said. “We celebrate having the most craveable food in fast food with items like the Queso Burger and Toasted S’mores Shake, and that is where SONIC will continue to excel. And I can’t wait for our guests to try what we have in store for 2021.”
Eddie Saroch, Senior Vice President of Franchise Relations and Christina Vaughan, Senior Vice President of Operations and Training
Following an unprecedented year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Eddie Saroch and Christina Vaughan took the time to thank operators and teams for their continued efforts around the country.
“We appreciate all the hard work keeping the safety of our team members and guests as our top priority, while maintaining the incredible standards SONIC is known for,” Vaughan said.
While 2020 has provided a unique set of challenges, the SONIC Drive-In teams nationwide have continued to uphold the brand’s safety, speed and accuracy standards guests have come to expect.
“Our friendliness through this time was critically important as we were seeing many new guests,” Saroch said. “With the operational demands as a result of COVID-19, our teams remained strong with exceptional speed of service and accuracy despite the incredible demands we continue to experience.”
Jim Cannon, Senior Vice President of Design and Construction
After unveiling a new logo and brand elements in 2020, SONIC also rolled out its brand-new prototype, providing a fun and inviting space for guests to enjoy a moment of carefree bliss in their daily routine.
“We’ve taken learnings from our first prototype in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and built out a base design, which includes 18 canopy stalls and a drive-thru,” Jim Cannon said. “This is a beautiful building that lights up at night, really capturing guests’ attention with an inviting outdoor patio that includes string lights, lawn games and patio tables.”
While working on the new design, Cannon also discussed opportunities to retrofit current drive-ins with an updated look and feel.
“As we built out this new design, we ensured there would be opportunities beginning in 2021 to retrofit older model drive-ins,” Cannon said. “That includes replacing and installing all branding logos and sign elements while implementing the new color scheme and iconography.”