Jim Carpenter | CEO & Founder | Wild Birds Unlimited
Paul Pickett, CFE introduces his company the following way:
Wild Birds Unlimited is a backyard bird feeding/ outdoor wildlife retail franchise dedicated to meeting the growing consumer backyard bird feeding hobbyist demand. Each of our more than 350 stores are strategically located within their markets ̶ serving as true neighbourhood resources. WBU franchise owners provide expert knowledge about the bird feeding hobby and offer an exceptional shopping experience.
We train every Wild Bird Unlimited franchisee on how to help customers transform their yards into a bird-feeding habitat that not only brings song, color, and energy to their lives, but also one that benefits the visiting wild birds and the overall ecosystem.– Paul Pickett, CFE
The company has been in business for 41 plus years with 357 open locations in the US and Canada with an additional 12 Franchise Agreements signed and in progress to open. The mission of the company is We Bring People & Nature Together…and we do it with excellence while its vision is We bring joy into our customers’ lives…by sharing our passion for birds and knowledge about the hobby of backyard bird feeding. Wild Birds Unlimited caters to strong income and education demographics, over 100,000 populations in the shopping market and a high level of single-unit homeowners.
– We believe in being honest, ethical, and respectful with everyone.
– We embrace diversity in our community.
– We guarantee our products are of the highest quality, are truly effective, and are an excellent value.
– We support sustainably-produced products whenever possible.
– We support local and national bird and wildlife habitat conservation organizations and educational programs.
Feeding the Birds
Wild Birds Unlimited is a leader in the wild bird feeding industry, exclaims Paul. Every day, each one of their more than 350 franchise store owners has the chance to live out their dream of owning their own business, and they get to do it in a way that brings them fulfilment while also delivering joy to their customers, and their communities are what makes Wild Birds Unlimited unique.
While our customers buy the best backyard bird feeding products in the industry from our stores…what we really sell is JOY. The Joy of connecting with birds and nature. Our stores are more than just a store…they are a community resource.– Paul Pickett, CFE
Feeding some CEO insights:
Jim Carpenter, CEO and Founder, shares:
What I value most about the Wild Birds Unlimited culture is that it is a culture of service – Service to our franchisees, service to our retail customers and communities. I named our franchise headquarters “The Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Support Center” 30 years ago and that “Support” defines why we exist.
I also value that we have a culture of Trust, with our company values and actions defining and creating that trust. Every year I write and share my Strategic White Paper with our whole franchise system. This is where I share where we have been, where we are now and here we are going. That transparency is very important as I can create the right expectations within our system and my decisions can be discussed and changed if needed based on their feedback.
We added new language to our Vision Statement this year…“Save the Song Birds”. It guides us to educate our customers and communities on actions they can take to help the birds prosper in a challenging time for wild creatures. This also creates a cultural bond in our franchise community that we are all working together on a mission that is greater than just our businesses.
Another focus of ours is to continue to grow the number of customers in every WBU franchise store, to lead the bird feeding industry in the development of new and innovative products and services and to continue to grow the number of Wild Birds Unlimited stores in the US and Canada.
Starting the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise system was motivated by my love entrepreneurship, my love the bird feeding hobby and nature in general , my love sharing Joy and my love of helping others fulfil their dream of owning their own business.– Jim Carpenter, CEO and Founder
How it all began:
In 1981, Jim Carpenter, the founder and CEO, had a dream. Jim loved the hobby of bird feeding and the idea of controlling his destiny by owning his own business. Jim was a natural entrepreneur; as a child, his grandparents had owned a small chain of “five and dime” retail stores in his home state of Indiana. So, with a big dream and small inheritance, Jim opened the first Wild Birds Unlimited store in Indianapolis, IN. Jim believed that if he offered the best bird feeding products, delivered the finest customer experience, and focused on enhancing his customers’ lives by providing them with the best way to enjoy their backyard bird feeding hobby, his business was sure to succeed.
He was right! Jim’s commitment created a strong foundation that has supported 40 years of growth and a thriving wildlife franchise that’s bringing joy to thousands of customers throughout the US and Canada.
Growing the right way:
Paul Pickett, CDO/EVP of franchising states:
We are very selective in our franchise development process to ensure that we are matching up the best possible candidates to join our system. Yes, there are specific financial criteria that must be met, but the foundation for approval to join the WBU flock is the alignment of mission, vision and values. We look for franchise store owners who are committed to providing an exceptional customer experience to their retail customers, a motivating career opportunity to their team of associates, full engagement with our Franchise Support Center team and an undying focus on fulfilling our Brand Standards and Brand Promise. We are unique in franchising in that our Coaching-Operations team is a big part of our Development process and has ultimate and institutional authority to approve or deny a new candidate to join the WBU Flock.
New and existing WBU owners have access to over 40 years of expertise thanks to the experts who manage our Franchise Support Center. To help you meet the day-to-day challenges of franchise ownership and establish a good foundation for long-term success, we provide franchise training and support for every area of your business. As a franchisee, you’ll be in business for yourself, but never by yourself.
This team of more than 50 professionals, located in Carmel, Indiana, will help to equip you with the tools and best practices you need to operate your store. Each member of the support team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to every interaction.
During your first year of operations, our New Owner Development Team is dedicated to helping new franchisees get off to a strong start to store ownership. After that first year of operations, you will work with a designated Business Coach to put systems in place and implement WBU best practices.
You’ll be trained to use the Wild Birds Unlimited Financial and Accounting Tools to help you plan for and understand profitability and cash flow in your store. You will also gain insight into financial best practices by reviewing case studies of actual store operations.
Nature & Hobby Education
From hands-on product training to ongoing hobby education, you’ll have access to the resources you need to become your community’s backyard bird feeding authority. You’ll quickly become a bird feeding and wildlife expert.
Our marketing support is designed to help you attract new customers and create loyalty among existing customers. We provide you with a yearly marketing plan that integrates direct mail, email marketing, an online presence, educational outreach, public relations, and other advertising, resulting in a comprehensive strategy. We will guide you through the process of building a marketing budget that maximizes the resources within your local market, including your launch and grand opening plan.
Merchandising & Purchasing
You will benefit from a broad mix of Wild Birds Unlimited private label merchandise that will set you apart from your competition. Our custom seed blends, select and private labelled feeders, and our exclusive hardware system are best in class. You will also gain the skills necessary to buy, price, and sell our products.
We’ll help you learn the skills required to recruit, train, retain and lead your team. You will have 24-7 access to Wild Birds Unlimited’s specially developed training programs to improve your staff’s effectiveness as you see fit. Our ongoing training programs will help you motivate your staff to understand and maintain your store’s mission through superior customer service and high salesmanship standards.
Training and Communications
Our intensive online, classroom and in-store training programs provide our franchise store owners with the tools and skill-sets that they need to thrive as business owners. Our strong proprietary intranet platform, communications plan and one-on-one support give our franchise system all of the information that they need, when they need it, to establish and grow their individual businesses.
Information Systems and Technical Support
We’ll train you to use WBU’s proprietary point of sale system and run reports that will help you analyse business performance. You’ll learn to use this information and insights to make informed decisions about marketing, labour, scheduling, product assortment, inventory levels, and other operating expenses. As a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner, you will have access to training resources and toll-free phone support to help ensure everything runs smoothly.
Franchise Store Owner Community
Our Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store owners connect through the WBU Intranet, over the phone, or in person. Whether you’re in search of a specific product or simply want input and advice from a colleague, you can count on your fellow store owners to help.