Liz Cutrone always knew her main passions in life were nature and birds. Mix that with experience in customer service and an entrepreneurial spirit and a thriving franchise is born.
Cutrone set out to open up her own wine bar when she realized, maybe wine wasn’t her life passion. However, she knew she still wanted to open up a business for herself. When the opportunity to be a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee was presented to her, she couldn’t pass it up.
Having been a loyal customer of Wild Birds Unlimited in Jacksonville, Florida, Cutrone decided her next step with the brand would be as an employee for the Gainesville location where she worked her way up to manager under the ownership of Bubba and Ingrid Scales. That’s when she heard the Wild Birds Unlimited in Knoxville, Tennessee was for sale.
“The two collided, my passion for birds and for opening a business,” Cutrone said. She, along with her husband, Tony Cutrone, left Florida to be franchise owners of the Wild Birds Unlimited in Knoxville. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this together,” Cutrone remembers saying to her husband.
Wild Birds Unlimited currently has more than 335 opened stores throughout the United States and Canada with another 15 set to open over the remainder of 2018. Start-up costs for a franchise range between $146,516 to $249,956.
It wasn’t just passion that made the couple so successful, Cutrone dedicates the success of the franchise to the Wild Birds Unlimited community.
“I tend to say I know every 8 out of 10 people that walk through the door. I know their name, I know if they just went on vacation, I know about their grandkids,” she said about their regular customers and the family-like community she’s created in her store.
When making the move, Cutrone had a goal -- to get to know each customer one at a time. Just four years later, and business is booming. “Bubba and Ingrid truly taught me the customer service side of Wild Birds Unlimited. I brought that knowledge with me to Knoxville.”
This excellent customer service extends beyond the brick-and-mortar location to the comfort of your own home. With a MyWBU account, all Wild Birds Unlimited customers can purchase their bird food and products using their mobile phone.
“It has added another layer to the overall experience,” Cutrone said. “Everyone is busy or has their reasons as to why they can’t come to the store. MyWBU makes sure they can keep their feeders full with their favorite bird foods.”
Richard Stair is a loyal customer of Wild Birds Unlimited in Knoxville who regularly uses MyWBU when shopping.
“Liz and Tony showed me how to use MyWBU on my phone. I like how I already have my credit card information in there, my favorite foods are right there and all I have to do is hit a button,” Stair said on his experience.
Although Richard has the store at his fingertips and the option for delivery, he always chooses in-store pickup. “I never want to miss an opportunity to see everyone. Not just Tony and Liz, but everyone. It’s a community.”
Since owning Wild Birds Unlimited, Cutrone has done more than create a community within the store but also has made quite the presence in the Knoxville community. The couple works with the local Ijams Nature Center, specifically Senior Naturalist, Stephen Lyn Bales.
“I sponsor the Ijams annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival. A lot of customers come and I was asked to be the main speaker this year,” Cutrone shared. “Stephen comes to our store, too, to lead education programs. We truly have grown our store by educating our customers.”
Cutrone says she doesn’t look at Wild Birds Unlimited as just a retail store but instead as the opportunity to educate people on nature and birds.
“It’s the first time in my career I look forward to going to work every day because I know that my team and I are going to make an impact,” she said. “I make it a goal that every person who comes in our store leaves knowing a little more.”
With locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores. Recently ranked No. 2 Overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards, there's no better time to join the Wild Birds Unlimited team. Click here to learn more.