“You don’t know what you don’t know.”
That’s what Paul Pickett, the chief development officer for Wild Birds Unlimited, will tell prospective franchisees. And it’s a phrase that has everything to do with making sure each lead that comes his way has all the information needed to make the right decision.
Since Pickett began his franchise development career back in 1989, he always kept a keen focus on intensely preparing new franchisees with realistic expectations. This meant creating a development process that provides a clear path of discovery to help potential Wild Birds Unlimited owners completely understand the brand’s system, how they support their individual stores, what it takes to be a thriving franchisee, and ultimately answers that important age old question: “Is this franchise the right match for me?”
“As a franchise development professional, your job is to ensure that the match between your brand and your candidate is strong and that the foundation has been set for a long and successful working relationship,” Pickett said. “Becoming a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee is a big decision. We decided that, in order to grow the right way, we needed to give people the ability to fully understand every single aspect of what it’d be like as one of our owners.”
With more than 300 stores and counting throughout the United States, it’s clear that Wild Birds Unlimited’s unique approach to franchise development is working. But even with this impressive momentum, the brand recognized that there was still room to expand in untapped markets—it just needed to get its message in front of the right franchisees to make this kind of continued growth happen.
That’s when Wild Birds Unlimited turned to 1851 Franchise for help. The digital publication’s team of content producers, editors and development strategists worked directly with the brand to uncover the best stories and tell them in the most compelling way to shed an honest and fully-transparent light on the true Wild Birds Unlimited experience.
Together, Wild Birds Unlimited and 1851 recognized a need to write stories covering a handful of topics—starting with highlighting franchisee success stories and capturing the brand’s unique culture and unrivaled franchisee satisfaction. In August 2016, we featured the story of Silvia Slemmer, a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee in Carlsbad, California, who overcame challenging odds to fulfill her lifelong dream of business ownership. By sharing her heartwarming story with 1851’s audience, Wild Birds Unlimited offered an intimate look into what a successful future with the brand could look like, and the life-changing impact it was having on the lives of its franchisees.
“Every day I walk into my store, and I can’t believe this is mine—that I’ve come this far. If it wasn’t for Wild Birds Unlimited, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Slemmer told 1851. “Sometimes we get held back from going down our own path. I’m glad I didn’t listen when people told me it couldn’t be done. I determined my own happiness. And I found it with Wild Birds Unlimited.”
As a brand fueled by an unrelenting passion to bring people and nature together, 1851 also highlighted Wild Birds Unlimited’s ongoing efforts to do just that. In December 2016, we showcased Wild Birds Unlimited’s nationally-recognized partnership with Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch—a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas and other locales in North America. The project helped Wild Birds Unlimited better connect with like-minded bird watchers who may not yet be familiar with the brand.
We truly strive to be the absolute leaders and the best in the industry. We’re always excited to meet people who share our passion. We’re proud to share the same beliefs as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the 52.8 million people out there who enjoy birds as much as we do,” said John Schaust, the chief naturalist at Wild Birds Unlimited.
To better distribute these stories, Wild Birds Unlimited then invested in 1851’s proprietary AMPD program, which allowed the brand to target a defined audience—one that fit the profile of its perfect franchisee in its exact target markets. This technology became especially important for the brand as it targeted specific regions for expansion. Roanoke, Virginia, for example, was a virtually untapped city for the brand, and Wild Birds Unlimited recognized immense potential for expansion—they just needed to attract the right franchisees. Using our AMPD program, they targeted their Roanoke 1851 story—which served to highlight the immense opportunity for growth—to audiences throughout the state of Virginia. The end result was an article that generated thousands of reads.
Today, 1851 Franchise continues to craft original narratives highlighting Wild Birds Unlimited, its accomplishments and—most importantly—the people who are propelling the brand forward. From celebrating Wild Birds Unlimited’s biggest year for development and growth in a decade, to profiling the brand’s tenured corporate team, 1851 Franchise is helping to put the brand’s most compelling stories in front of more people than ever before. Most recently, 1851 broadcasted Wild Birds Unlimited’s unique story by profiling its founder and CEO and Founder Jim Carpenter. This included featuring Carpenter on one of 1851’s monthly covers for added exposure.
“What 1851 Franchise has done for content marketing is extraordinary—there’s nothing else out there like it. They truly understand the art and power of storytelling,” Pickett said. “With the help of 1851’s team, Wild Birds Unlimited has been positioned as a brand with a positive and strong culture that people want to be a part of.”