SONIC, America’s Drive-In franchise, is one of the fastest-growing brands in the QSR segment. With innovative technology, a menu that is designed to maximize profitability all day long, and wide-open territories in prime markets, it’s no wonder that SONIC appeals to multi-unit investors.
For Nik Bhakta, who along with his investment partners, owns more than 360 restaurants and is a franchisor with multiple brands, investing in SONIC checked all the boxes for smart growth.
“We knew we wanted to get into the QSR space, and SONIC was really the brand that stood out the most,” Bhakta says. “We did our research, and compared to other burger concepts, but SONIC was the most innovative, the most forward-thinking, and we saw an opportunity to grow that we didn’t see with other brands.”
When COVID-19 hit, Bhakta recognized that SONIC was positioned to continue growing, even at a time when many of the other brands in the QSR segment had to radically change their business models to survive.
“This has been a really unique time in the country, and being in the restaurant business, SONIC was one of the only brands where sales continue to increase,” Bhakta says. “Our business model, the drive-in, positioned us extremely well for this unprecedented event. The car is the dining room, we have a drive-thru, and an order-ahead app that has led to a significant increase in sales.”
The mobile order-ahead app that Bhakta is referring to was launched last year and has been a game-changer in the industry. The app allows the full customization that SONIC is known for, while also decreasing wait times, and it allows customers to choose when and where they want to pick up their food. For Bhakta, this app is a strong contributor to the sales increases he’s experiencing in his restaurants.
“SONIC seems to be a leap ahead of everyone else,” he says. “The app is very intuitive and easy to use. It allows you to customize your order exactly to your liking, and you don’t have to wait in the drive-thru line. Our sales have been climbing on the app throughout this time.”
With the success that Bhakta is experiencing with his SONIC restaurants, it should come as no surprise that he’s already looking into investing in more locations going forward.
“We’re going to continue to invest in SONIC and open more locations,” he says. “We have 17 right now, and we’re going to buy some existing locations to put us at 30 this year. We’re also developing new locations. That’s one of the big advantages with SONIC – the green space. There’s a lot of open territory, and SONIC will go into markets that other brands won’t. There’s a lot of room to do extremely well, and we’re excited about the future.”