SONIC® drive-in cruises to success with Basware



Food & Beverage


North America


AP Automation


When SONIC®, America’s Drive-In® wanted to make its accounts payable (AP) department more efficient, they turned to Basware’s invoice automation solution.

SONIC® is the largest chain of drive-in restaurants in the US. With over 3,500 company-owned and franchise locations from coast to coast, it’s known for its quick and personal Carhop service and made-to-order fast food.

In its accounts payable (AP) department, however, SONIC’s manual invoice processing operations were less efficient than desired, and it identified a need for improvement.

To address this need, SONIC set its sights on achieving the same degree of excellence and efficiency in AP as it had accomplished in its restaurant operations.

Key takeaways


E-invoice processing


Per year cost savings


Reduction in invoice staffing

SONIC's Challenges

The company’s previous manual AP processes were arduous and time-consuming. Each of the 458 company-owned restaurants across the US individually received invoices from suppliers. Twice monthly, these restaurants sent a batch of invoices to headquarters in Oklahoma City via UPS (United Parcel Service). The AP department had to key in each invoice manually.

Our process wasn’t working efficiently, we frequently didn’t receive invoices from the field promptly, and some were missing or lost. We also handled several calls from suppliers checking on the status of late or out-of-period invoices. Karen Higdon, Director of Accounts Payable, SONIC

Adding to these problems was the difficult task of manually handling 450,000 invoices each year. Once an invoice was entered, it was forwarded to another person for review for accuracy, making the invoice handling process even longer.

SONIC conducted a comprehensive technology selection process, sending RFIs to 15 companies before narrowing the field to three for more extensive review.


How SONIC implemented Basware's out of the box AP Automation solutions

SONIC chose Basware AP Automation for its outof-the-box functionality and set several goals for its automated system. The company wanted to reduce the time and effort involved in processing invoices, gain efficiencies, improve control over invoices and decrease late payments.

The implementation process went very smoothly. SONIC is “very pleased” with Basware and has created a true partnership. Higdon notes that “The Basware team has communicated frequently, effectively and is always available to come on-site on an as-needed basis.”

One of the biggest selling points of Basware AP Automation was that it offered robust functionality right out of the box. The fact that we were able to hit the ground running with the breadth and depth of functionality that we needed was important to us. Karen Higdon, Director of Accounts Payable, SONIC

The implemented solution supports electronic workflow, revision, cost allocation and approval of invoices, and transfer to the organization’s Infinium ERP.

Once invoices are in the system, Basware AP Automation’s autoflow capabilities route them to the appropriate approvers and reviewers in the company. To ensure that invoices are processed promptly, the Basware system sends out reminders and escalates approval to the next level if someone does not respond within a specific timeframe.

The system accommodates SONIC’s business rules by setting dollar limits on corporate approvals and establishing the approval chain for invoices. It also integrates seamlessly with SONIC’s Infinium ERP.

The solution provides complete access and display for all invoice information and spend analysis with its versatile reporting. SONIC also implemented Basware scan & capture to automate the conversion of paper invoices to electronic.

We are very pleased with the visibility and control achieved in Accounts Payable. We are particularly impressed with the cost savings and efficiencies we’ve been able to achieve, as well as our ability to pay invoices promptly and close our books faster and more accurately.

Karen Higdon, Director of Accounts Payable, SONIC


SONIC has realized important benefits using Basware AP Automation. The organization has saved substantial time, money, resource and reduced the volume of late payments it makes.

Digitization of AP processes significantly increased, with approximately 97% of the invoices now processed electronically. The integration between Basware SONIC’s Infinium ERP has also been seamless.

Transferring information between Basware and our ERP is a smooth process. We transfer information to our payables ledger several times a day and also send data to the general ledger once a week and it all happens very easily Ronda Boles, Supervisor of Payables at SONIC

By using invoices automation, SONIC has also reduced the need for storage. For seven years, the company previously-stored all invoices in paper format at an off-site facility. The annual cost for this was $160,000, making the removal of this activity a significant cost saving.

Overall, SONIC has reduced AP resources dedicated to invoices processing by more than 25%, decreasing the staff needed to work on this task from 19 to 13. At the same time, restaurant management has more time to focus on the core business, and supplier satisfaction has increased.