One of four Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee coaching models, the brand’s Answer Center provides tailored support for store owners of all experience levels
Wild Birds Unlimited offers its franchisees one of the most robust suites of coaching programs in the industry. Multiple models of support are available for store owners based on their desired level of engagement with the WBU coaching staff. The company’s Answer Center is a highly responsive support model that allows owners to connect with the franchise whenever they need assistance.
1851 Franchise sat down with Kim Howard, a customer experience specialist for the WBU Answer Center, to learn about how the program allows franchisees to tailor their support level to the specific needs of their store.
1851: What is the Answer Center?
Kim Howard, Customer Experience Specialist: The Answer Center support model delivers an exceptional level of franchisee support, addressing questions that cover all aspects of operations. This support is geared toward owners who do not desire a formal mentoring program with a coach but still want a place to pose questions, help locate resources or learn how to use specific tools that Wild Birds Unlimited provides.
1851: How is the Answer Center prepared to tackle the many different types of issues that can pop up for store owners?
Howard: All of us have customer service backgrounds, and we’re all passionate about the brand. Because of the wide breadth of our service, our staff stays up to date on every facet of the company’s operations.
The franchisees are small business owners, and they are learning to run and grow a business while managing their own life at the same time, many of them for the first time. We keep an empathetic ear and try to make them feel empowered every time they hang up the phone. We have a well-defined operating system and the Answer Center team is highly trained on system best practices and equipped to answer a wide-breadth of questions.
When a franchisee expresses a desire for more engagement or assistance with developing a more directed path to reach their business goals, they will be matched with another model of coaching, such as enterprise coaching or business development coaching. We are always evaluating our Answer Center stores to help them determine which coaching model best suits their needs.
1851 Franchise: How do you know how to tailor your approach for a new owner versus a more experienced one?
Howard: The store owners drive the program. We’ll talk to the owners and determine what kind of support they need and want, but it’s up to them to decide how they want to use us. A franchisee who opts for maximum support can rely on the Answer Center for regular guidance on day-to-day operations, while more experienced WBU owners may call the Answer Center on a more limited basis.
Even owners who are in other coaching programs will often call us because they need a quick answer on something. If they can’t get a hold of their coach, they leave a message for us, and we aim to have a response for them in 24 hours, and in most cases we can respond within the same day.
1851: Are there any other benefits of the program from a brand perspective?
Howard: We like to provide all of our franchisees with an opportunity to choose their level of engagement as it relates to mentorship. A great benefit of the Answer Center is that it allows stores to operate with a level of autonomy. No matter what model of coaching a store owner chooses, they will be met with an exceptional level of support that is consistent with WBU values and best practices.