While Wild Birds Unlimited may be a top franchise company that consistently ranks high on industry lists, the brand is hardly resting on its laurels.
For Wild Birds Unlimited, success is very much about interdepartmental collaboration, which is why the retail operations and franchise development teams held working meetings in December to refine brand processes and determine best practices and areas for improvement going into 2019. Coaches, training managers, the franchise development team and more all met to review numbers and analyze feedback.
“We reviewed the last 12 to 18 months to identify our big wins and where we have the opportunity to improve,” Wild Birds Unlimited Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett said. “We took a look at all new franchisees and their path through the franchise development and on-boarding process, reviewing all metrics, including whether they opened a new store or purchased an existing one.”
Wild Birds Unlimited reviewed how these new franchise store owners performed on key metrics, such as the brand’s daily savings club membership, as well as responses to customer surveys. The team also reviewed the number of community talks each location held and the average ticket amounts at each location.
The cross-department analysis of new franchisees in the system is of great value to Wild Birds Unlimited due to its ability to yield better results when it comes to finding franchisees who are a good brand fit.
“The interesting thing in franchising is that in so many brands, operations and development are on opposing teams,” Pickett said. “Development is pushing to get more, more, more, while operations is emphasizing the need for the right people. In development, sales goals are very important, but it’s still a symbiotic relationship because bringing the right people into the franchise system amplifies the brand’s culture and will lead to better results.”
Wild Birds Unlimited Director of Retail Operations Amy Moore emphasized the importance of attracting qualified franchisees who want to succeed within the brand’s system and how the operations and development teams were able to work together for the greater good of the brand.
“We appreciate the openness and willingness to be transparent, to be open to both compliments and constructive criticism to make it a better process,” Moore said. “Ultimately, it’s that franchisee’s ownership experience that’s the most important to us. We’re committed to keeping franchisees satisfied.”
The Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee validation process has also benefited from the interdepartmental collaboration, Pickett said.
“When we looked at the data for the last couple of years, we saw that some of the franchisees who had developed relationships with other store owners were able to interact more than just through phone calls and store visits and actually shadowed the store owner for a day or two,” Pickett said. “We found that that’s an amazing tool both from the candidate and franchisee standpoint. Prospective franchisees were able to get an idea of what their daily lives with Wild Birds Unlimited would look like, and existing franchisees were able to provide valuable feedback on candidates, which gave us good points to move from.”
As a result of these discoveries, Wild Birds Unlimited is taking several action steps, including reducing the number of existing franchisees that candidates must speak to in favor of having them shadow and spend more quality time with existing franchise store owners. Wild Birds Unlimited is also working on changing up its discovery day, referred to as Meet the Flock Day.
“It’s changing our process to promote that method of validation versus the one we currently have in place,” Pickett said. “It’s making edits to the franchise development process that will ensure an even better fit for both us and our candidates.”
Ultimately, the meetings were really about talking about brand goals, looking at the past year’s results and how they compared to previous years and steps the brand can take to ensure a strong caliber of franchisee.
“You can't make those decisions without having both teams in together and on the same page,” Pickett said.
The startup costs for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise range from $150,837 to $260,991, which includes the franchise fee. The franchise fee is $30,000 per location. To learn more about franchising with Wild Birds Unlimited, visit https://franchise.wbu.com/.