Texas franchisee’s career path takes him from a Colorado casino to an ice cream store in El Paso
Cold Stone Creamery® franchise owner Greg Cropp is dedicated to his three stores in El Paso, Texas. For almost two decades, Greg has been dishing ice cream to customers — a business he loves because “when people come to eat ice cream, they are generally in a good mood.”
After college graduation, Cropp worked as a shift manager of a casino in Central City, Colorado, for nine years. Once a friend called with a new offer, however, he left that career path for another. “My buddy asked if I’d go into the fast-food business with him. So, I spent three years in Conway, Arkansas, running a Dairy Queen®,” Cropp says.
Cropp and his wife wanted to move closer to family when they were expecting their first daughter. As he started researching business opportunities in El Paso, Texas, he realized he had learned an important lesson during his time with Dairy Queen: “I loved the ice cream part of the Dairy Queen operation but not the food side. In fast-food, people seem to come in expecting to find a problem with their order, the service or the employee’s attitude.”
Ice cream is totally different, Cropp says. “It’s very hard to eat ice cream and be angry at the same time!”
Cropp opens 3 stores in El Paso
Cropp’s first Cold Stone Creamery franchise opened in 2004 in El Paso; his second opened in 2005, and his third location — a nontraditional franchise taking up less than 400 square feet in a gas station — opened in 2007.
Aggressively marketing his business and interacting with the community have been crucial aspects of growth for Cropp’s Cold Stone Creamery franchise. “When I opened my first location, I went in and made the ice cream every day,” Cropp said. “I worked open to close for the first nine months in that store. Once winter came, our sales took a seasonal hit.
“I was freaking out, but my field consultant gave me the best advice. He told me to step back from the day-to-day operations and make myself known out in the community. I started handing out coupons, visiting schools, going to businesses and dropping off cakes at banks. Getting my name and face out there really spring boarded the business.”
Giving people an incentive to come into his stores is key to Cropp’s growth. He says, “Our ice cream doesn’t taste like any other ice cream. The taste lingers in your mouth. Our brand’s core flavors are very good, and it’s very rich, too. Once you get people hooked on good service and good product, they’ll be back.”
Cropp advises all potential owners that they must be willing to be heavily involved with their stores if they want to open a Cold Stone Creamery franchise.
“It’s important for a franchisee to be in their store working it, watching it and marketing it. When you have a vested interest in the store, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work,” he says.
Cropp adds that in addition to marketing, a good location is crucial for a Cold Stone Creamery franchise: “It’s important to have good visibility and be known in the area. Even if rent is a bit higher than you would initially hope, it will pay off in the long run because of the amount of traffic that will come into your store.”
For now, Cropp is happy with the three El Paso stores he owns. He’s content that they are all running smoothly, which means he gets to spend more time with his family.
“Cold Stone Creamery has been an excellent way of providing for my family for the last 14 years. Growth is definitely good, and I very much enjoy the freedom I have with three stores. Time with family and quality of life are important to me, and I have a very good balance right now,” Cropp says.
Now is the time to open a Cold Stone Creamery franchise
Doing business for more than 25 years, Cold Stone Creamery has become a national institution, beloved for offering The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience®. Our brand’s super-premium ice cream is made fresh in more than 1,000 locations in the United States and in hundreds of other locations around the world. We are actively recruiting new franchisees to open stores in territories from coast to coast.