It is no secret that 2020 threw most businesses for a loop. Wild Birds Unlimited was no different. However, the commitment of the entire franchise system along with the flexibility of our model allowed the franchise to maintain success as consumer habits became uncertain.
At this point one year ago, the economy had recently reached its lowest point of the recession once the realization had set in that the pandemic would impact our lives much longer than originally thought. Still, one year later, Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the nation are strengthening their connection with customers thanks to many of the adjustments the pandemic inspired.
These modifications were made possible largely through a combination of resilience and dedication of franchisees along with the support from the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise system, both in developing new ways to engage its community of customers and further product innovation.
“In times like last year, it was more important than ever to fuel the joy of backyard birdwatching,” said Amy Moore, VP of Retail Concepts at Wild Birds Unlimited. “People spent more time at home and had more time to enjoy the birds and nature around them. Bird watching and feeding can help people find an escape from the stress and anxiety surrounding us, so it was crucial for us to respond in the right way.”
Beyond the new products such as “Share the Joy” boxes and shifting to curbside pickup and a significant increase in franchise store owners implementing the brand’s MyWBU online shopping platform, much of the support Wild Birds Unlimited gave its franchisees was the power of communication.
“We knew our customers would be home birdwatching, so we created marketing material for our franchisees to communicate with their customers on two different levels,” said Paul Picket, Chief Development Officer of Wild Birds Unlimited. “First, we wanted to focus on getting the message out that we were available to help support that hobby. Second, we created an entirely new set of materials for people to know how to get their products in a safe way. That meant providing our franchisees with signage for stores and digital content for websites, emails, and social media.”
At the onset of the pandemic, Wild Birds Unlimited recognized the importance of finding new ways to connect with customers. As social distancing became necessary across the country, the entire franchise system knew there would be value in finding new ways to prioritize positive interactions within its community.
From launching a podcast to shifting its usual educational experiences online, Wild Birds Unlimited placed engagement at the forefront of its pandemic strategy. Those innovations, combined with the marketing materials and operational support, are efforts that franchisees Lou and Celeste Cafiero credit with helping store owners sustain their success throughout such a trying time.
“We have so many loyal customers that we were glad to continue serving,” Lou said of their store in Gambrills, Maryland. “We were lucky that the franchise developed an online store several months ago, and we were able to stay open and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as a result.”
The Cafieros are part of a nationwide network of franchisees which Wild Birds Unlimited credits with its continued growth both during and beyond 2020. One year later, the franchise has seen a carry-over of both customer satisfaction and system growth.
“As a franchisor, you have a responsibility to give franchisees the tools that you have—that’s just what you do,” said Pickett. “You provide them with what they need to make the various decisions they were all navigating last year, just hoping to maintain their connections with people. They needed to know that we’re here for them. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
One year later – that support continues to benefit not only the franchisees but their customers whose passions make it all possible. To learn more about the training and support that Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees receive, contact us today!