A & W Restaurants vs Sonic Drive In Franchise Comparison

Below is an in-depth analysis and side-by-side comparison of A & W Restaurants vs Sonic Drive In including start-up costs and fees, business experience requirements, training & support and financing options.

Start-Up Costs and Fees

A & W Restaurants Franchise
Sonic Drive In Franchise
Investment $269,000 - $1,213,000$1,242,000 - $3,523,300
Franchise Fee $15,000 - $30,000$45,000
Royalty Fee 5%2.45-5%
Advertising Fee 5%3%
Year Founded 19191954
Year Franchised 19251959
Term Of Agreement 20 years20 years
Term Of Agreement 20 years20 years
Renewal Fee -10 years for $6K

Business Experience Requirements

A & W Restaurants Franchise
Sonic Drive In Franchise
  • Industry experience
  • General business experience
  • Marketing skills

  • Industry experience
  • General business experience
  • If no industry experience, must have an operating equity partner

  • Financing Options

    A & W Restaurants Franchise
    Sonic Drive In Franchise
      In-House/3rd PartyIn-House/3rd Party
    Franchise Fees No/NoNo/Yes
    Start-up Costs No/NoNo/Yes
    Equipment No/NoNo/Yes
    Inventory No/NoNo/Yes
    Receivables No/NoNo/Yes
    Payroll No/NoNo/Yes

    Training & Support

    A & W Restaurants Franchise
    Sonic Drive In Franchise
    Training Before your restaurant opens, we provide six weeks of intensive in-store training for you and, in some instances, your key management people. The training takes place at an established A&W restaurant, usually in the same province where the restaurant will be located. From being shown the secrets of battering and breading A&W's handmade onion rings, to learning detailed information about how to create an efficient operation and positive work environment, you'll gain the knowledge and the confidence to achieve success in your own restaurant.On-The-Job Training: 400 hours Classroom Training: 24 hours Additional Training: At existing franchise location
    Support The moment you become an A&W franchisee, you can expect complete and unrivaled support for your business and the A&W brand, all with the sole purpose of helping you to succeed. Operational support As your A&W restaurant settles into its regular routine, A&W business managers provide ongoing guidance with operational aspects of your business such as staffing, cost management and local marketing. Our business managers are an extraordinarily experienced team of senior managers whose job is to help you succeed. You'll also be invited to attend regular regional meetings and national conventions, where you'll gain new knowledge and share ideas with senior management and other A&W franchisees. In no time, you'll become a part of our energetic, results-oriented A&W team. Internal communication With over 50 years of experience as a franchise company in Canada, we have learned that communication is a crucial element of any successful franchise organization. The A&W Xchange, a private intranet site developed exclusively for the use of A&W operators and Head Office personnel, provides an outstanding vehicle for daily, real-time communication within the A&W family. You will also have access to a toll-free line for use in contacting Head Office. Internal standards boards and councils Decisions about ongoing operating standards and menu content are conducted through our Standards Board, an executive body comprised of franchisees elected in their region and a number of senior corporate managers. In a similar way, decisions about advertising expenditures and national promotional programs are made by a group of elected franchisees and corporate personnel who serve on our National Advertising Advisory Council. These two bodies give strong evidence of how, by working together, we develop marketing and operational programs that will help grow your business.Purchasing Co-ops Newsletter Meetings/Conventions Toll-Free Line Grand Opening Online Support Security/Safety Procedures Field Operations Franchisee Intranet Platform

    Local store marketing is not just a catchphrase around the A&W family, but a way of life. Each restaurant is unique, and will have a marketing plan tailored to fit it. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The A&W Marketing Team and each restaurant's Franchise Growth Leader work one-on-one with Franchise Partners to help develop a marketing strategy, budget, and implementation tactics.

    Co-op Advertising Ad Templates National Media Regional Advertising Social media SEO Email marketing Loyalty program/app
    Operations Franchisees required to buy multiple units/master licenses

    Absentee ownership of franchise is NOT allowed.

    International franchisees required to buy multiple units/master licenses; 60% of all franchisees own more than one unit

    Number of employees needed to run franchised unit: 25

    Absentee ownership of franchise is NOT allowed.

    Expansion Plans

    A & W Restaurants Franchise
    Sonic Drive In Franchise
    US Expansion -Yes
    Canada Expansion NoNo
    International Expansion YesNo

    Company Overviews

    About A & W Restaurants

    In 1919, our founder Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand in Lodi, California to introduce a new beverage called "root beer" at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans. With his creation an instant success, Allen and partner Frank Wright named the beverage we know today as A&W Root Beer. Allen and Wright started franchising roadside stands, making A&W Restaurants the oldest franchise restaurant chain in the country. We are proud to stick to our roots and honor the past, while still growing with the changing times. We are committed to making it right, every time. Laughter, simple pleasures, and celebrations are all vital to A&W. Ask around, everyone has an A&W memory: first dates, baby mugs of Root Beer, high school sweethearts, and that perfect burger. We're more than just a place for a frosty mug of Root Beer and a great meal. We're A&W Restaurants, and we're inviting you to be part of something bigger than just owning a business. We're inviting you to be part of the A&W family. Create your very own A&W memories for yourself and your community. Consider this a unique opportunity to join a 96-year-old iconic American brand being run with the entrepreneurial spirit of a startup company. Since December 2011, when A&W was purchased by a partnership of domestic and international franchisees, A&W set its sight on becoming a world class franchise organization. Over the last 3 years, we've invested our resources in defining a competitive brand strategy that impacts all consumer touch points and has us well-positioned to capitalize on our heritage while remaining relevant to today's consumer. From new menu launches like our delicious Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and right-sized Mini Polar Swirls to our flexible localized marketing strategies, we are committed to innovation that will bring us another successful 101 years.

    The total investment necessary to begin operation, not including rent or land costs, is $886,000 to $1,397,000 for a Freestanding Restaurant;  416,000 to $977,000 for a Inline Restaurant; and $276,000 to $680,500 for a Captive Restaurant. This includes $15,000 to $30,000 plus an additional $35,000 if you agree to develop 3 restaurants or $50,000 if you agree to develop 5 restaurants that must be paid to the franchisor or its affiliates.

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    #7 in Canada's Top franchises.
    In Franchise Business Reviews Top 200.
    #290 in Franchise 500 for 2020.

    About Sonic Drive In

    Sonic Industries Inc. was founded in 1973. In 1974, Sonic acquired the name 'Sonic Drive-In' from Troy Smith, Sr., and began franchising. Smith used his more than 15 years of experience in the restaurant business to develop and operate the Sonic franchise program. A wholly owned subsidiary of Sonic Corp., the company is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has locations throughout the United States. The company's storefronts recently got a facelift to give them a 'retro-futuristic' look.

    Your estimated initial investment necessary to begin operation of a Traditional Sonic Drive-In franchise ranges from approximately $1,242,200 to $3,537,700 plus land costs and includes the $45,000 franchise fee that must be paid to Sonic.
    Your estimated initial investment necessary to begin operation of a Non-Traditional Sonic franchise ranges from approximately $361,900 to $978,700 and includes the $22,500 franchise fee that must be paid to Sonic.

    "franchiserankingscom"     "Entrepreneur
    #91 on Franchise Rankings.com
    #4 in Franchise 500 for 2020.
    #28 in Franchise 500 for 2021.