bannerFranchisor Stories

Wild Birds Unlimited Prioritizes Visiting Franchise Partners on the Road for Developmental Insights

The premier backyard birding and nature retail franchise’s development team makes sure to get out into the field to provide a hands-on coaching approach for new and established franchise partners.

The award-winning specialty retail franchise Wild Birds Unlimited has consistently been recognized by industry experts and its own franchisees for prioritizing operational efficiency, franchisee support and customer satisfaction as a way to bring people and nature together. Wild Birds Unlimited is able to accomplish this through an amazing concept, a tremendous business model and a community-driven approach.

The Wild Birds Unlimited team makes sure to prioritize the success of each and every franchisee, assigning coaches to provide ongoing support and assistance. Recently, the brand’s Manager of Franchise Development Seth Holan hit the road to visit franchisees across the state of Wisconsin and gather insights into how to expand the franchise opportunity.

“Strong franchisor-franchisee relationships are a huge component of the Wild Birds Unlimited culture,” said Holan. “I am always thrilled to get out into the field as it allows me to personally build meaningful relationships with our franchise partners and develop a better understanding of our system.”

Since starting his position at Wild Birds Unlimited last year—after a career spent exclusively with company based retailers—Holan has been thrilled to work within the franchise system and help franchisees support the mission of creating a place for nature and bird lovers to gather.

According to Holan, Wild Birds Unlimited features a robust and multi-tiered Coaching Model, including the Enterprise Coaching program, New Owner Coaching, Business Development Coaching and Answer Center Coaching. Since Wild Birds Unlimited features a diverse lineup of store owners, the coaching system can cover a wide range of franchisee support, including training and development of staff, financials, leadership, marketing and visual branding. 

“During our trip throughout Wisconsin, I joined one of our coaches to six different stores and studied the coaching process,” said Holan. “Coming from the development side, I was able to collect insights from each successful owner and implement techniques that will bring these ideas to new franchise partners. Being on-site allowed me to watch how the coaches interacted with the owners and the level of preparation that went into the coaching process. Replicating the profile of our successful Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store owners and learning more about best practices is invaluable to our franchise development team and our franchise community as a whole.”

After spending time with existing franchise store owners both new and old, Holan’s biggest takeaway was how passionate and engaged each owner was about bringing their love and knowledge of nature to their community. The franchise development team is able to hone in on exactly the right skill sets and motivations that they need to look for in new franchisees as they recruit to the WBU franchise system.

“From store to store, it is so great being able to see associates engaging and building relationships with customers,” said Holan. “The sales associates often remembered prior visits and have a massive amount of product knowledge. They’re able to build trust with the customers that you don’t see anywhere else. Seeing franchisees and associates in action is an amazing and wonderful way to differentiate our opportunity to potential franchisees.”

Holan expressed that the most successful franchisees are those who bring a clear vision to their store. “For example, one of the stores we visited had three butterfly cases in the windows where customers could come and study the insects,” he said. “We released two monarch butterflies into the back of the store and every single customer that came in asking about them. That is a highly engaged owner and someone who is dedicated to fulfilling our mission of bringing nature and people together. That is the kind of passion that we look for in new franchisees and it is great to experience  in the store.”

To ensure that Wild Birds Unlimited continues to be successful in its ongoing expansion initiatives, the brand is taking the data that it gathers from on-site visits and turning it into actionable insights that will improve the brand’s franchise system for both existing and new owners going forward. 

“Our ability to move the brand forward following these recent store visits is exactly why Wild Birds Unlimited is ahead of the competition,” said Holan. “It is important that franchisors stay connected to their franchisees, especially when it comes to implementing best practices and techniques for development. Spending one-on-one time with our franchisees is an incredible opportunity and there is nothing like being in the store to see the smiles on each of our customers’ faces.”

Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 300 locations throughout the United States and Canada. The investment level to open a Wild Birds Unlimited location is $130,837 to $240,991. To learn about franchising opportunities with Wild Birds Unlimited, please visit

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