SuperFranchise covers the franchises that everyone’s talking about, the businesses with an extra edge of swagger, style, or infamy. The big investments, the dazzling brands, the social media superstars, the companies everyone in franchising should know.
- Crumble Cookies is the fastest growing cookie brand in America, having established over 300 outlets in just five years. It’s a company driven by technology, social media, and the careful examination of metrics.
- The estimated starting cost to set up a Crumbl Cookies outlet is $229,666 to $574,833, not including royalties or marketing fees. Of this, $25,000 covers the initial franchise fee.
- Average revenues for a Crumbl Cookies outlet were $1,274,047 in 2020, with a net profit of $319,958.
The fastest growing cookie company in America, Crumbl Cookies was only founded in 2017, and already has 300 bakeries in 36 states. This remarkable growth, along with its distinctive packaging, has made Crumbl a brand worth watching.
The Origins of Crumbl Cookies
Like many of the most memorable franchises, Crumbl Cookies started out as a small operation and a passion project shared by friends. The current CEO Jason McGowan and COO Sawyer Hemsley, a pair of cousins from Utah, set up their first store in 2017. While they had plenty of ideas and enthusiasm, they only had a few years of business experience between them, and Sawyer was still attending Utah State University. They set up their business without any investors, giving them complete control over their brand and its management.
Cookies are a well-established industry, and even a luxury brand was going to face stiff competition. Though their experience was limited, McGowan and Hemsley were smart and ambitious in their approach. From the start, they applied the most modern approaches to their business, and carefully planned its expansion.
In the space of five years, Crumbl has gone from nothing to one of the biggest cookie franchises in America. This hasn’t come from throwing stores recklessly at the map. The company’s leaders have identified in advance areas where they think its stores will and won’t succeed, and they determine which franchises to allow on this basis. In the first four years, not a single store failed, because they were all set up in suitable areas.
Crumbl’s Marketing Genius
On the surface, Crumbl’s success is driven by marketing savvy.
Crumbl keeps customers’ attention through novelty. A rotating menu and regular new recipes mean that there’s always something different to taste. Flavors inspired by other cakes, pies, and desserts grab attention by providing something that’s new yet familiar, a safe sort of novelty.
New cookies go through a meticulous planning process, taking into account both customer tastes and production concerns: a cookie has to be practical to make as well as appealing to eat. Trial runs in select stores give insight into whether the cookie works in practice, both for customers and as part of the in-store production process.
This is all part of a visually strong brand. The company’s distinctive pink boxes make its products instantly recognizable, so that they stand out both in the street and in photos on social media. A company that’s Instagrammable can turn customers into part of its marketing machine.
For Crumbl, that means 5 million followers on TikTok. There’s huge hype around the weekly reveal of its new cookies, driven by the company’s carefully managed relationship with its social media followers. Franchisees benefit from a powerful marketing machine that has the look of organic social media trends, but is driven by deep examination of metrics and a knowledge of what works.
The Crumbl Cookies Store
One of the challenges for a franchise is achieving a balance between uniformity and authenticity. Uniformity is necessary to provide consistency and protect a brand, but it can leave customers feeling distanced, like their products are being delivered from another planet.
Crumbl has worked around this with its open-concept kitchens. Customers can see the balling, baking, and decoration of the cookies happening in store, which creates the impression of a real bakery and the illusion of creativity. The reality of standardized recipes and franchise instructions keep this from undermining the consistency of the end products.
Inside the Crumble Cookies Box
Open up the lid of this cookie box, and a slick, modern business is revealed. Crumbl makes heavy use of technology and metrics.
Tech is used to push out new cookie recipes each week, and to train staff in their production. Customer feedback goes into an application for franchise partners, which lets franchisees see how they’re doing compared with each other and provides space for them to share good practice. Many entrepreneurs are driven by the urge to compete, and for those with such a mindset, it’s a great motivator. Others may find this direct pressure off-putting. While it can encourage a push for greatness, there’s a risk that this raw internal competition could foster conflict over cooperation in the long term.
Technology also gives central management strong oversight. They examine the data on a weekly basis, looking at what each store needs to succeed and how their model could be adjusted. This process of continual iteration and improvement, if maintained, will provide a flexible basis for future growth in changing circumstances, at the price of reducing franchisees’ sense of autonomy. The company’s continued expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic indicates an ability to adapt to difficult circumstances.
Crumbl Cookies is a fast-growing franchise driven by powerful tools and a focused management team. For franchisees who are keen to compete and are comfortable with intense oversight, it’s a chance to buy into a powerful marketing machine with a deep understanding of its customers. For those who prefer autonomy and collaboration, the intense oversight and internal competition may make it an uncomfortable fit. One thing seems likely: the popularity of Crumbl’s sharing-sized cookies is going to keep growing.