Franchise Spotlight: Coleman Bradley, Sonic

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How does one go from the real estate business to franchising? Just ask Coleman Bradley – a real estate investor and developer turned 14-year Sonic franchisee.

When he moved from Dallas, Texas to North Carolina in 1999, Bradley knew he wanted a cash-flow business, something different than the project-by-project nature of the real estate world. He was familiar with the Sonic concept and menu, and knew it had a good product matched with good customer service. When he saw the opportunity to open a Charlotte, North Carolina store in 2001, he took it. Since then, he has opened nine additional stores in the greater North Carolina area.

Bradley and Direct Capital

Bradley first met Matt Goyette, Direct Capital’s Vice President of Major Accounts, in September 2013 at the Sonic Convention in San Diego.

Goyette said Bradley was “skeptical” at first, because of prior experiences with lenders, but still Bradley listened to how Direct Capital’s process worked. Bradley said, “It was kind of a test. I did what Matt told me to do. It was very simple.”

Wanting to retrofit five of his existing restaurants, he knew he needed capital. That’s where Direct Capital was able to help.

Bradley is a good businessman he continuously wants to make upgrades and purchases that make, as he calls it, “business sense.” Some of those upgrades include retrofits and renovations on his stores. With the funds obtained through Direct Capital, Bradley was able to renovate the exteriors of the building, improving curb appeal, increasing traffic, and lowering overall maintenance costs.

And because the first five retrofits worked out so well, Bradley said he plans on using Direct Capital for the sixth one he will do in 2015.

Direct Capital Financing Process

“It was simple,” Bradley said, “It was a quick approval and document signing takes minutes.”

But it’s not only the process Bradley advocates for; it’s the products, too. Because Sonic is a very seasonal business, he said the working capital from Direct Capital enabled him to smooth out cash flow.

“It’s a very good product,” Bradley said of Direct Capital’s small business loan, “I like it.”

He said that the retrofits, made possible with the working capital he received, has helped him increase sales and traffic across all of his stores. Though there are a lot of factors that go into it, he said, “I’ve got to believe that with the improvement of the buildings, there’s no question the money we got from Direct Capital played an important part.”

The Future

Bradley said he’s definitely open to the idea of opening more stores. “There’s a possibility to expand,” he said,” I’m always looking for opportunities if the numbers work.”

But, in his current stores, there are certain projects that need completing first. Sonic is rolling out new POS upgrades and POPS systems (Point of Personalized Service) and Bradley’s stores are set to have those installed in mid- to late-2016.

The POP system, a digitized drive-in menu that includes a screen with dynamic content on a loop, and the POS upgrade are two more projects Bradley plans to finance through Direct Capital.

Why? “Three reasons,” he said, “Everybody does what they say they’re going to do. The simplicity. And if I ever need anyone, everyone is right there.”

To discover ways that Direct Capital can help your franchise grow like Coleman’s, visit our Franchise Financing page!