In March 2019, Wild Birds Unlimited sent accomplished multi-unit franchisees, Amy Legg and Kellie Watts, to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference on behalf of the brand. Legg and Watts have continuously seen success as multi-unit franchisees and are now eager to implement their newfound knowledge and networking skills into further developing an enterprise with the company.
Wild Birds Unlimited is a community-driven brand, providing the highest quality backyard bird feeding products coupled with expert local advice on how to enjoy birds and nature. With over 330 locations throughout North America, Wild Birds Unlimited is an ideal concept for any individual interested in building a business enterprise. Stores can be spread out across the country, providing an ideal backdrop for multi-unit franchisees like Legg and Watts, who own three stores across the U.S. in Missouri, Washington and Texas.
Legg and Watts moved from Texas to Branson, Missouri, in 2010. While familiarizing themselves with the area, Legg and Watts decided to visit their local Wild Birds Unlimited store down the street. Prior to visiting the Branson location, neither Legg nor Watts had ever heard of the brand. What they discovered at the store was a full spread of products and information bolstering their love of nature and birds. The duo ended up leaving the store after spending nearly $200. According to Watts, she and Legg loved the store and its products so much so that they kept the business in the back of their minds.
“We were working corporate jobs in the finance and business sectors, and frankly, we were tired,” said Watts. “So we began looking elsewhere for fulfillment in our careers. We kept coming back to the Wild Birds Unlimited store. We developed a friendship with the owners there and it was only a matter of time before we knew that we wanted to utilize our extensive backgrounds, melding it with our interest of birds and nature.”
Legg and Watts retired from the corporate world and became well-acquainted with Wild Birds Unlimited. At first, they sought to own a new store in Texas, though quickly realized that it wasn’t the best market at the time. But within two months, an opportunity in Seattle opened up. Legg and Watts were apprehensive at first, but deeply impressed by the opportunity and flew out to make an offer on the store soon after. Legg and Watts closed on their first Wild Birds Unlimited store in Lake Forest Park, Washington within six weeks of the initial meeting.
According to Legg, she and Watts knew it was the best time to close, prompting them to begin their journey with Wild Birds Unlimited. Within a year and a half, the couple purchased their Warson Woods, Missouri store, then their Austin, Texas location a year and a half after that.
“Neither of us foresaw owning more than one location initially,” said Legg. “It was simply a project for us after retiring. But we also saw the tremendous business and investment potential of franchising with Wild Birds Unlimited.”
Becoming multi-unit franchisees with Wild Birds Unlimited has terrific benefits, Watts explained. She stated that while the obvious one is financial gain, between capital investment and a phenomenal return, there is an additional factor: she and Legg have been inspired to continue growing their enterprise as a result of the impact they have seen on people who become frequent fliers to their stores.
Watts said, “As multi-unit owners with Wild Birds, each store and its offerings are unique to the location, lending itself to naturally be a multi-unit base. Wild Birds Unlimited is incredibly different from other franchises: it’s not cookie-cutter and no two stores are exactly alike.”
Legg and Watts discussed with Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer of Wild Birds Unlimited, the ways in which they could learn more about growing as multi-unit owners with Wild Birds Unlimited.
“We approached Paul, and talked to him about ways we could learn more about being multi-unit operators,” said Watts. “He had introduced us to the multi-unit concept and became our connector, suggesting that the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference would be a terrific opportunity for us both. Paul encouraged us to go.”
Leg added, “More importantly, [the conference] was an opportunity to connect with experienced franchisees with whom we could network and glean information from to become even more successful. While at the conference, we were sponges, trying to absorb all the information we could.”
A space for franchisees who own multiple stores, Legg and Watts were able to connect with others like them across different sectors and markets. The duo learned about structure and growing an enterprise, how to build and send account plans and building a successful team, among other topics.
“Attending the conference was eye-opening,” said Watts. “The sessions and networking taught us a lot, but it also reminded us of how unbelievably supportive our brand is of its franchisees.”
With plenty of support, Legg and Watts are steadily moving forward in their search for a fourth location. They noted that they are looking to eventually have four or five locations to build upon in well-established, diverse markets. Together, they are opportunistic, facing their enterprise growth much like they did when they first began with Wild Birds Unlimited: if the right one comes along at the right time, they’ll know it and jump right in.
While most Wild Birds Unlimited stores were previously hobby-based and typical ‘Mom and Pop’ owners, Legg and Watts bring a unique and experienced business perspective to the company, which was expanded upon through attending the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference.
“We work with a company that is continuing to evolve,” said Watts. “The franchise is young enough that there is genuine opportunity, especially when joining as a business person. We’re maintaining distance ahead of the curve thanks to the very talented people of Wild Birds Unlimited. As a multi-unit franchisee, you’re certain to make an impact both with your stores and in the business, all the while improving the lives of your team members and customers.”
The initial start-up cost for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise location is $150,837 to $260,991 which includes the franchise fee of $30,000 per location. To learn more about franchising and becoming a multi-unit franchisee, visit https://franchise.wbu.com/.