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Part of Crumbl Cookies’ success is due to its outsized digital presence.

Good technology, focus on unit economics fuel Crumbl Cookies’ massive expansion

The delivery restaurant concept more than doubled its footprint last year

Crumbl Cookies, a chain based in Lindon, Utah, that’s focused on fresh-baked cookies, more than doubled its unit count in 2022, from 326 locations to 689, while its sales skyrocketed more than 2.5 times from just shy of $390 million to almost $985 million. Its estimated sales per unit grew by 9% to $1.84 million.

Part of that success is due to its outsized digital presence. It’s a relatively young chain, founded in 2017 by CEO Jason McGowan and his cousin Sawyer Hemsley, but its app is the 6th most downloaded one in Apple’s app store’s food and drink category. That puts it ahead of older and much larger chains including Domino’s, Taco Bell, and Chipotle, which are themselves very active in the digital space. Crumbl Cookies also has 6.4 million followers on TikTok and 3.3 million on Instagram, more than McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Chipotle.

Having a charismatic and visually appealing product such as cookies certainly helps, and the chain capitalizes on that, as well as its social media following. Customers are invited to upload pictures of their cookies, which doesn’t just give its audience a sense of ownership of and participation in the brand, but also acts as quality control. Thanks to its advanced tech stack, Crumbl has a system that rates the cookies and sends scores to franchisees, comparing them to other franchisees and also indicating what, if anything, appears to be wrong with the product so they can fix any operational issues.

That technology focus has also helped management understand how to expand.

Once the chain hit 100 locations, McGowan and his team determined what made a successful Crumbl — traffic patterns, anchor tenants, street traffic, where their target demographic shops, etc. — and mapped out great potential locations across the country.

Their expansion has also been helped by the fact that there aren’t a lot of other large multi-unit cookie concepts out there, so Crumbl’s franchisees have been able to snag the best locations.

The chain has a weekly rotating menu of its roughly 170 cookie varieties, which keeps its customers interested and gives them reasons to order more frequently. So does the subscription program that it recently introduced, giving its users both weekly and monthly options, translating into more potential occasions to visit or order from the chain.

The rotating but limited menu also keeps operations relatively simple.

McGowan has said that a key factor in the chain’s success is his focus on the success of his franchisees, ensuring that they remain profitable, which in turn encourages them to expand.

“It really comes down to making sure you’re really, really successful with unit economics,” McGowan told NRN last year. “If you have a store that makes money … and the franchise partners see that coming in, then all of a sudden they want to do more stores. So success begets success.”

He also said that he has never advertised to find franchisees. “It’s all been natural engagement or within our current franchise partners,” he said.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

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