This Crumbl franchise family doesn’t crumble under pressure.
After graduating college at Utah Valley University, Mark Van Wagenen started the management training program at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the Salt Lake City area. He was with Enterprise for several years and then was recruited by one of his clients to operate a trampoline park in Lakeland, Florida.
Mark was then promoted after a year from general manager to district manager, based in Pensacola. As a district manager for two years, he oversaw the operation of 14 trampoline parks throughout Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas. He also began his MBA degree at the University of Illinois, during which he got “the urge to venture out on my own,” he says.
“I was looking for a business to buy,” he shares, “when I met someone who had opened a Crumbl Cookies franchise. I knew about Crumbl since it was founded in Utah in 2017, and I decided Pensacola needed a Crumbl. We applied to be franchisees in July 2020 and opened our Pensacola location in June 2021. We opened our second location in Gulf Breeze in December 2022, and we’re working on a third location to be open in the fall.”
The entrepreneur finished his MBA in May 2023.
“I have loved owning and operating my own business,” Mark describes. “It has given us the flexibility as a family to spend more time together at home — and working on the business together. It gives me the opportunity to focus on developing our team, and it’s rewarding to watch them grow. There are always challenges with employees but as we continually work to cultivate a great work environment that encourages autonomy and ownership, we’re able to see the young people on our team gain experience that will help them in their lives outside of Crumbl.”
As a business owner, Mark explains how the SBDC has helped them grow as a business. He found out about the SBDC after he and his wife, Callie, opened their first location.
“We were trying to determine our next location to open, and I was provided with some great analysis of several areas we were looking at. This helped us narrow down where we wanted to build our next store.
“As we looked to start hiring our team for the new store, the SBDC provided us with a good wage analysis to make sure we were marketing jobs at a competitive rate compared to other opportunities in the area. It’s also nice knowing the SBDC is available if I have questions. My SBDC consultant Christa has been great to be connected with and has always been helpful when I ask her questions. Knowing she too is a small business owner gives me even more confidence in the information she provides, as she understands where I am.”
Mark says they’ve seen and been impacted by rising interest rates and food costs. Inflation and interest rates have really impacted their bottom line, he shares, as they’ve seen rates almost double from where they started with their loans. They’ve also experienced issues with equipment malfunctioning, utility challenges due to frozen pipes in the winter months, a lightning strike that cut power and forced them to close early, and a pick-up truck driving through the front door of their Pensacola location. In a nutshell, he’s not sure why anyone would hesitate to reach out to the SBDC for help navigating the world of business ownership.
“Going into business for yourself is a risk, so I suggest looking at all the resources you can which are out there. Gather information, get opinions, try to talk yourself out of doing it, then go for it if you think you have a great plan. This will only come from consulting with others who are experienced.”
To end on an even sweeter note, keep in mind if you get the Crumbl app you’ll be able to receive a free cookie on your birthday. Also there are subscriptions available for weekly deals. You may not know how handy fresh, soft cookies can be in making life a little bit tastier for yourself and others. Find, order, and learn more about shopping your local Crumbl including the rotating weekly menu plus mystery cookie!