SHATTUCK — Before franchisee Dusty Girton opened the town's first Sonic Drive-In on Main Street in Shattuck last year, the Oklahoma City-based chain's nearest location was about 30 miles east in Woodward.
“People were very excited about it,” Girton said. “We've had people talking about getting a Sonic for probably the last 15 years.”
Looking for ways to expand it its core markets of Texas and Oklahoma, Sonic is increasingly looking at small, rural communities for new franchise growth.
Over the past year, Sonic has opened drive-ins in not only Shattuck, but also Valliant, a town of about 800 people in McCurtain County, and has signed development agreements with franchisees in small towns such as Cherokee, population 1,500, and Medford, population 1,000.
“When we look at our core markets, where we already have heavy penetration in urban areas, we are looking at new ways to grow,” said Mike Gallagher, vice president of development and franchising for Sonic.
“By focusing strategically on small towns, it gave us a way to kick-start our development,” he said.
The company also has reduced the building footprint of some of its new locations to minimize land acquisition and building costs, also making it easier for Sonic to expand to smaller communities, Gallagher said.