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Wild Birds Unlimited Gets 2 Major Wins at the 2018 Franchise Leadership & Development Conference

The bird-feeding brand received the 1st place Star Award for franchisee satisfaction.

The Franchise Leadership & Development Conference took place October 9–11 at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, and Wild Birds Unlimited scored two major wins.

Hosted by Franchise Update Media, the annual conference brings together franchisors to share best practices and recognize top industry performers. 

This was the 20th anniversary of the conference. Wild Birds Unlimited Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett chaired this year’s event.

As part of the conference, Franchise Update Media hosts the annual Star Awards banquet, which grants awards to the best-performing franchise sales organizations that registered for the conference. Wild Birds Unlimited won first place in the Best Franchisee Satisfaction category. That award is based on Franchise Business Review survey results.

“Franchisee satisfaction is something we’ve always focused on at Wild Birds Unlimited, so it’s a huge thing for us,” Pickett said. “Having delivered expectations and then exceeding those in the development process and operationally is an expectation that every one of us at the WBU Franchise Support Center aspires to.”

In addition to the Franchisee Satisfaction Star Award, Wild Birds Unlimited received major recognition for overall franchise development, tying for second place among all the brands competing for this honor. Franchisors that register for the annual Franchise Leadership & Development Conference are mystery shopped by third-party individuals selected by Franchise Update Media.

“They mystery shop you and look at your social media efforts, franchise website, and they mystery shop the brands both by phone and email to assess how well you’re doing,” Pickett said. “This is basically putting franchisors and franchise development teams to the test.”

Wild Birds Unlimited passed with flying colors, tying for second place with the paint-and-sip franchise brand Pinot’s Palette.

Pickett was honored to have been invited to chair this year’s conference when he was asked by Therese Thilgen, CEO, and Gary Gardner, Chairman, of Franchise Update Media.

“My reaction was an immediate ‘Absolutely!’” he said. “It is one of the highest honors I could have been granted.”

As chair of the event, Pickett was invited to offer his own ideas of how to make what is already one of the best conferences in franchising even stronger.

“I was able to get some things implemented that I’m passionate about. One of them was having even more content that is data-driven with executable and implementable advice and strategy. We had a lot more people with a lot more data on the stage,” he said. “One of the great things about working with Therese, Gary, and Diane Phibbs at Franchise Update is that they are 100% committed to making this conference better and better every year.”

Pickett also wanted to increase the level diversity at the conference, both on the main stage and on the panels.

“Franchise Update has always been very attentive to this issue in the past, and they really embraced it at an even higher level this year,” he said. “There was a level of freshness I wanted, and a level of diversity that would speak to the fact that our industry is attracting a more diverse crowd, and so the experts should be reflective of that.”

Pickett was thrilled by the recognition Wild Birds Unlimited received at this year’s conference.

“Whenever you get an award, especially one that is granted to you from your peers, it’s incredibly humbling and a huge honor,” he said. “We work really hard to do franchising and franchise development right and bring the right energy and attention to our franchisee candidates. So to win these awards is incredibly satisfying. It shows that all our hard work is paying off.”

The startup cost for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise ranges from $146,516 to $249,956, which includes the franchise fee of $30,000 per location. To learn more about franchising with Wild Birds Unlimited, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.