Last Wednesday was a big day for us here in the Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Development department when we got word that two of our newest WBU franchise store owners got their SBA-backed financing journey across the finish line and deposited their funds into their bank accounts.
If you have ever heard about how challenging it can be to manage through obtaining a SBA loan, you have only heard a short part of the whole story. In my 3 decade + career, some of the most challenging and frustrating financing projects have been when our candidates used SBA backed funding options. That is until we met and started working with First Citizens Bank a couple of years ago.
One of our franchise candidates had connected with them directly to finance their purchase of an existing WBU store and that was how the relationship between Wild Birds Unlimited and First Citizens Bank began. They loved how educated we were on the intricacies and challenges that come along with a SBA-backed franchise loan from a franchisors standpoint and how much assistance we gave to our candidates as they maneuvered through their financing journey. We loved how focused First Citizens Bank was on the franchisees customer experience, how organized and communicative they were and how competitive and thoughtful they were through the whole process.
I sent a thank you email to our “Closing Specialist” who manages SBA loan Closings for First Citizens last week after the two loans were finalized and here is the response that I received.
“You are so welcome. Some days in this line of business (SBA loan closings) are tough but when I have a Wild Birds Unlimited deal I know it will be my solace for the day.”
Who gets that kind of message from a financing partner? It just proves that financing partners are just as relationship based as any other business collaboration. Finding the right financing partners is paramount for a franchise system in order to support your candidates and foster continued growth for your system. We are thrilled to add First Citizens Bank as our preferred SBA funding partner.
If there were any doubts about how excited we are about this new partnership- the following email from one of our amazing franchisees says it all:
We have looked forward to purchasing our 2nd store for years. We felt 100% ready for the opportunity but the process of actually purchasing our 2nd location was foreign to us and a bit intimidating. We’d like to thank Paul for walking us through the process and connecting us with many resources and folks who made this process much smoother and manageable than it would have ever been otherwise. Specifically we would like to speak on the use of First Citizens for the loan process. Paul suggested them as they have worked with several store owners in the past and know the WBU brand quite well. Jerry, who kicked us off there was extremely friendly, efficient, and communicative. As we continued the journey we simply followed checklists provided by the bank. Nothing was unreasonable or difficult. As our loan got worked down the line at the bank, each person was helpful and felt as if they did already know our business having worked with WBU before. As most will, we ran into some unforeseen circumstances out of our control. These circumstances were quite stressful BUT Debbie (the banks attorney who had also worked with WBU clients) and the folks at First Citizens went above and beyond to fight for us and support us during this time. Honestly, without them, I am not sure we’d be multi-store owners at this very moment as I suspect our situation would have caused delays beyond what we would have wanted to accept. One of the benefits, to us, of being franchisees vs independent business owners is the power in numbers and supportive resources. We would highly recommend anyone seeking financing for their store to consider Paul’s recommendation of First Citizens. Their service was exceptional and we can’t help but reason the more WBU supports First Citizens the better they can support us!
Mark and Danielle, Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Store Owners