Executive Q&A: Pat Perkinson, Vice President of Retail Sales
What about Wild Birds Unlimited makes it unique within its industry?
In Franchising, there are not a lot of retail concepts, this alone makes us unique, the fact that we are “hobby related” retail provides our franchise store owners with an opportunity to build a business in an industry that they love, serve customers who love what they are offering and work within a like-minded community.
What have been some of the brand's most important milestones over the past five years?
- The recent launch of our omni-channel on-line ordering system is a huge milestone that has just occurred. Our new retail operations coaching models was a big game changer when we launched it three years ago, and our being ranked #2 in Franchisee Satisfaction from Franchise Business Review in 2018 was one of our proudest milestones ever.
- In 2017, Our Founder, President and CEO, Jim Carpenter authored a book on the hobby of bird feeding titled “The Joy of Bird Feeding”. John W. Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology wrote this endorsement “Nobody in the world knows more about the science and art of feeding wild birds than Jim Carpenter. This book is not only a detailed “best practices’ guide taught by the master, but it also lets us share in the sheer joy with which Carpenter approaches his hobby-turned-profession. Cover to cover this fact-filled manual is a delight to read.” Jim has been doing book tours in Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the country and his extensive research has already been used in new product development.
- We have a very aggressive and innovative in-house product development team that over the past five years has introduced more than 100 new and mostly exclusive core hobby products. Our percentage of exclusive branded products is more than twice the retail industry average. Our focus on new and exclusive product development is a major differential advantage in the bird feeding industry. During our 2018 Vendor Mart will unveil over 30 new specialty bird food items to our line-up.
- Our innovative franchisee coaching models are very unique in the franchise space. Every brand new franchisee works with a New Owner team that consists of two business coaches, our training manager, our PR and Media Manager, Store Design and Planning Specialist and Manager of Hobby and Nature Education to get them started in their business with an amazing foundation of support. After that first year of operations, our franchisees migrate to one of three models of coaching depending on their needs, level of engagement and focus on results. These coaching models are, from most to least intensive, Enterprise, Business Development and Answer Center. These coaching models are chosen by the franchisee and there is no extra cost to participate in the higher intensity coaching options.
What plans does the brand have in the coming years (to highlight momentum)?
- We continue growing the number of units in our system and are having great results in growing the number of multi-unit franchisees.
- Our continued focus on the Omni-Channel project will help our customers and franchisees in their effort to become as Amazon-proof as possible.
- We are unveiling a new program that will assist our customers and franchisees in enjoying the backyard bird feeding hobby with the development of our new “FeederScaping” program. Trained Backyard Bird Feeding Specialists” from your local Wild Birds Unlimited store will conduct a physical visit to the consumer’s yard to better assess the best ways to attract birds and wildlife and to help the consumer create a true “Backyard Habitat”.
What does an ideal franchisee look like?
Someone who is passionate about building a business enterprise, passionate about the hobby of backyard bird feeding and nature and passionate about sharing this hobby passion with their customer base and community.
Why is Wild Birds Unlimited a good investment?
- Our results show that our average first calendar year stores are cash-flowing in a positive fashion
- Our focus is not just on top line sales, we also, as a system, focus on the bottom line as well.
- Our results, published in Item 19 of our FDD, are very strong, allowing our franchisees to make both a strong financial and passionate personal investment in the Wild Birds Unlimited brand.