Business Strategies of Sonic, America’s Drive-in Sonic, a fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, is the largest drive-in restaurant chain in the nation. With more than 3500 stores across the nation averaging over a million dollars a year in sales per store, this corporation is one of the leaders in the fast food grouping of the restaurant industry. The success the Sonic Corporation enjoys is due largely to their unique style and the various ways they build value for their customer base.
The first Sonic store was opened in Shawnee, OK in 1953 as the Top-Hat Drive-In. The company later changed its name to Sonic in 1959. The restaurant opened originally as a burger and root beer stand and has progressively grown and developed throughout the years into the restaurant chain we know today. Sonic has incorporated several unique business ideas to remain relevant and successful in the fast food industry. The first way Sonic builds value for its customers is its unique drive-in style ordering system.
This allows the restaurant to serve multiple customers at once and reduces the frustration a customer endures from waiting in a long line to receive a meal. Convenience plays a major role in the customer experience. A customer orders from their vehicle under a canopy that protects from weather conditions. The drive-in style allows a customer to feel important and appreciated and makes the experience a personal one. At a majority of the stores, meals are delivered directly to customer vehicles by “car-hops” on roller skates.
This sets a fun, lighthearted atmosphere and adds value to the overall customer experience. These aspects of the business not only add value but could be considered distinctive competencies for the corporation. In my opinion, another competency of this chain is the differentiation of its menu items. They offer a variety of menu items that can be attractive to a variety of customers including drinks, several types of appetizers, unique entrees, breakfast items, and even desserts such as ice cream and shakes. Also, the quality of food appears to be better than other fast-food stablishments allowing Sonic to charge a slightly higher price for similar items. Serving their breakfast menu items all day is another way Sonic differentiates itself from its competition and adds value to its customers that competitors cannot offer. Sonic offers a vast array of drink choices through the use of flavoring that many other fast food restaurants do not offer as well. I do not believe Sonic has a certain type of customer that they cater to. Thus, I would not consider them to have a focused strategy. Being a fast-food restaurant, they serve a variety of different types of customers.
I also think they belong in the differentiation strategy because they are one of the most, if not the most, expensive fast food restaurant to dine at. Sonic communicates with its customers in several different ways. First, and most obvious, is through the personal interaction within the ordering experience. Customers are given individual attention without the hassle of other customers or waiting in line. Next, Sonic uses a variety of special marketing tools including the famous “goofy” best friends’ commercials that add to the fun, lighthearted atmosphere that was mentioned earlier.
Sonic uses the slogan “America’s Drive-in” to communicate that they are a favorite establishment across the entire nation. This builds brand loyalty and would definitely be a distinctive competency of this chain. Sonic uses all of these mentioned competencies to build value for their corporation, and this value is both actual and perceived by their customers. These competencies are unique to their firm and are what makes them one of the more successful and long-lasting fast-food establishments, going strong for 60 years.