You’ve made the decision to join a a brick and mortar franchise,now one of the biggest decisions you will make is choosing a location for your store. Some franchisors let new franchisees go about the process on their own, researching and identifying agents to work with and sites to choose. In order to set franchisees up for success, Wild Birds Unlimited takes a different approach. 1851 Franchise caught up with Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett, and he shared what makes Wild Birds Unlimited different.
Understanding what makes a great Wild Birds Unlimited store is the first step in the site selection process. The brand has done extensive research to determine what makes an ideal location for its franchisees. In order to ensure franchisees are a prepared to begin the process of finding a location that will fit their needs, the franchise development team provides them with a step-by-step guide detailing everything they should keep in mind when choosing a location. Of course, the franchise store owner does make the final choice on the location as long as it is approved by Wild Birds Unlimited, but the assistance and direction provide by the franchise is invaluable.
“We provide the candidate with tons of information for what makes a strong Wild Birds Unlimited location,” shared Pickett. “We provide them with forms, scorecards, competition analysis and all the information that they need to look for when it comes to individual sites.”
While most new franchisees prefer local representation, the franchise has a commercial real estate broker that they can use remotely who is well equipped to identify the available open locations for developing a new Wild Birds Unlimited store. Understanding the local community, demographics and the competitive space along with the brick and mortar specs all ladder up to a strong location. However, if a franchisee has a different agent they'd prefer to work with, the WBU franchise development team will support the onboarding process.
“If a franchisee wants to work with a local commercial real estate broker, we are happy to support them,” shared Pickett. “I will help interview candidates and give them an overview of our process and requirements.”
Once franchisees have found a location, franchisees will submit the location for review to Wild Birds Unlimited’s Corporate Support Center. The team will use its internal data system to run key demographics and psychographics so they can determine if the location is the right fit for a Wild Birds Unlimited store. If needed, Pickett will travel to visit the location in order to get a feel for the market. The needs of the franchisee, demographics and the expectations of a certain market will determine if an on-site visit is needed to make the final decision. The team is flexible and enjoys working fluidly depending on the amount of support needed to move on to the next step in the franchise process.
Signing the Papers
Once the brand’s team of experts has signed off on the location and the franchisee agrees, it’s time to make it official. This is where Pickett’s expertise truly shines. “We assist franchisees through the whole offer and counter-offer process. The commercial broker and lawyer will assist with specifics, but I will review the lease for candidates as well. I am able to identify lease essentials that lawyers and outside brokers may not be as well-versed in. In the past, I have been able to flag issues in the lease that would impact store marketing and operational efforts. We want to make sure that once the papers are signed, no surprises will be in store for our franchisees.”
Signing on with a franchise requires a lot of time and effort, but Wild Birds Unlimited has the processes and people in place to make it as efficient as possible. With over 330 units throughout the U.S. and Canada and start-up costs ranging from $146,516 to $249,956, the brand has more than enough experience in finding the perfect site for a franchisees future location.
As Pickett shared, “There's not a lot of complexities that come with purchasing a brick and mortar franchise. We have over 30 years of experience in finding the right location and we are with franchisees every step of the way.”