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Training & Support

Wild Birds Unlimited has a team of more than 40 professionals at our Franchise Support Center, dedicated to help you reach your business goals. We encourage every franchise store owner to utilize our 35+ years of expertise in running their business. With Wild Birds Unlimited best practices and brand standards, you have a proven system of operations, training, and support to help you achieve that goal.

An Award Winning System

Our mission statement, “We Bring People and Nature Together” is just the beginning. When it comes to supporting our franchise store owners, we add the phrase, “…and We Do It with Excellence.”

Over the past two decades, Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc. has received many awards and has been recognized by the likes of Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchise Business Review and USA Today. It’s enough to make us blush (and our moms proud).

Wild Birds Unlimited Support

Finance

You’ll learn to use the Wild Birds Unlimited Financial and Accounting Tools to plan for and understand profitability and cash flow in your store. You will also gain insight into financial procedures by reviewing case studies of actual store operations.

Nature & Hobby Education

You don’t need to be a bird expert to operate a Wild Birds Unlimited store, but you should enjoy birds and nature. From hands-on product training to ongoing hobby education, you’ll have the resources you need to become your community’s backyard bird feeding expert.

Marketing

Our marketing support is designed to attract new customers and to keep existing customers coming back. We provide you with a yearly Marketing Plan which incorporates direct mail, email marketing, a store web site, educational outreach, public relations and other advertising to create a comprehensive strategy. We will guide you through the process of creating a marketing budget to maximize the resources within your local market, including a complete opening and grand opening plan.

Merchandising & Purchasing

You will benefit from a wide array of Wild Birds Unlimited private label merchandise, including our custom seed blends, exclusive and private labeled feeders, our exclusive hardware system, and much more that will set you apart from your competition. You will also learn how to buy, price and sell our products.

Human Resources

You’ll learn how to recruit, train and retain excellent employees. You will also learn to use our specially developed training programs to improve your staff’s effectiveness. These programs will help you motivate your staff to understand and follow your store’s mission through customer service and salesmanship standards.

Information Systems

You’ll learn how to use our custom computer tools to track important business measurements. You will also learn to use this information to make informed decisions about marketing, labor, scheduling, product assortment, inventory levels and other operating expenses.

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Franchise Support Center

From the very first contact, we lay a strong foundation for the long-term relationship we have with our franchise store owners. Our Franchise Support Center in Carmel, Indiana is staffed by a team of 40 professionals who equip you with tools and best practices for operating your store. Each member of the team brings a wealth of knowledge and years of experience to their area of expertise.

Business Coaches

For your first year of operations, you will work with our New Owner Development Team. This cross-departmental team is focused on helping new owners get off to a strong start in owning a store. After that first year of operations, you will work with a designated Business Coach to put systems in place and implement WBU best practices.

Technical Support

Let’s face it, you can’t run a business these days without computer tools. Whether it’s operating the Point of Sale system or running reports to analyze business performance, technology plays an important role in day-to-day operations. As a franchise store owner, you will have access to training resources as well as toll-free phone support to help you keep things running smoothly.

Franchise Store Owner Community

Connect with other Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store owners through the WBU Intranet, over the phone and in person. Whether you need a specific product that you don’t want to order from a supplier, or you simply want opinions or advice from a colleague, other store owners are there to help.

Meet Our Executive Team

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Jim Carpenter

Founder, President & CEO

Jim Carpenter is the Founder, President & CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited. In 1981, he opened the first WBU location, a 700 square foot retail shop on the north side of Indianapolis. By 1983, he began franchising the concept, which has grown to more than 300 locations across the US and Canada. Jim is intensely involved in the hobby, having designed many successful bird feeding products and developed retail concepts implemented in Wild Birds Unlimited stores. He is author of The Joy of Bird Feeding, a 400+ page book published in 2017 which is a guide to attracting and feeding backyard birds. Jim holds a B.A. in Biology from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in Horticulture/Plant Physiology from Purdue University.

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Jim Carpenter

Jim Carpenter

Founder, President & CEO

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Patricia Perkinson

Executive Vice PresidentChief Operating Officer

Pat has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since June 2013. Prior to that time, she served as Vice President of Retail Sales since October 2007, as Managing Director of Retail Sales from 2006 to April 2007 and as Director of Retail Operations since 1995.

Pat joined Wild Birds Unlimited in 1995 after more than 20 years in women’s specialty apparel retail. Her previous experience included buying, merchandising, personnel management and operations beginning with single unit operation all the way to an 80 unit regional responsibility. She began her career with WBU as the Director of Retail Operations and was responsible for building the foundation of one-on-one support of our franchise store owners and developing the team of business consultants. She has been responsible for the overall direction of Franchise Center Support staff since 2007. Pat was raised in rural Pennsylvania where her father passed on his love of nature and the outdoors to her.

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Patricia Perkinson

Patricia Perkinson

Executive Vice PresidentChief Operating Officer

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Paul E. Pickett

Chief Development Officer

Paul’s career with Wild Bird Unlimited has perfectly combined his love of birds, nature and people. Paul joined the WBU team as the first full time employee in 1989 shortly after graduating with his Master’s Degree in Biology/Ornithology from the University of North Dakota. Paul has more than two decades of experience in working with potential franchisees as they decide to join the WBU team and has managed all of the site selection/lease negotiation assistance for the WBU system. 

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Paul E. Pickett

Paul E. Pickett

Chief Development Officer

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Cheryl Camp

Controller

Cheryl joined Wild Birds Unlimited in 2007 and serves as Controller. She graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Management/Accounting. Cheryl is a Certified Public Accountant in Indiana and holds a Master of Business Administration from Butler University. Her background includes experience in public accounting, insurance, construction and retail. Cheryl is responsible for the corporate accounting functions at the Franchise Support Center. Cheryl enjoys watching the backyard birds with her family.

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Cheryl Camp

Cheryl Camp

Controller

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Jim Lesch

Director of Product Support

Jim started with Wild Birds Unlimited in 1990 and has served as Director of Product Support since 1994. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management & Organizations from Indiana University School of Business and was an independent real estate appraiser before joining WBU. Jim’s 20+ years of experience working with manufacturers and distributors of backyard bird feeding products has provided WBU with indispensable supplier relationships, advantageous buying programs and exclusive private label merchandise. Jim is currently on the Board of Directors of the Wild Bird Feeding Industry and has volunteered his time and talent on the industry’s trade association board for several years. Jim takes great satisfaction in having a career that mixes his lifelong love of birds and nature with the challenges of business, retail and relationship building.

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Jim Lesch

Jim Lesch

Director of Product Support

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Dan Dobbs

Director of Information Systems Support

Dan has served as Director of Information Systems Support since April 2016. Dan has more than 30 years of computer technology leadership experience. Dan holds a BS of Computer Technology from Purdue University, and his MBA from Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Dan’s professional experience includes almost two decades at General Motors Corporation, and later as VP of Information Systems at a 700 territory global franchise system. Dan is responsible for the overall Information Technology strategy for WBU, and manages the Information Systems Department staff and resources. Dan’s specialty is in building custom business intelligence tools and analytics to help franchisees understand how they can “move the needle.” Dan enjoys motorcycle touring, local sporting events with his family, and redirecting his home surveillance cameras previously pointed at his front door to now his backyard bird feeders.

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Dan Dobbs

Dan Dobbs

Director of Information Systems Support

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Bo Lowery

Director of Marketing Support

Bo spent much of her childhood working in her family’s specialty retail store in Indianapolis, where she learned all aspects of operating a small business. Prior to joining Wild Birds Unlimited, Bo spent 15 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor and art director. She began her career with WBU in 1998 as Communications Manager and has served as Director of Marketing Support since January of 2011. Bo’s grandfather first introduced her to bird feeding as a young child and her parents instilled a lifelong love of nature.

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Bo Lowery

Bo Lowery

Director of Marketing Support

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Amy Moore

Directory of Retail Operations Support

Amy has served as Director of Retail Operations Support since September of 2007 and has been with us since 1994 in a variety of positions, including most recently, as a Business Consultant and Training Manager. Her family owned and operated a Wild Birds Unlimited store from 1980 to 2004. Amy spent her childhood in the cold winters of Northern Michigan and fell in love with watching the abundance of wild life that came to her family’s bird feeders.

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Amy Moore

Amy Moore

Directory of Retail Operations Support

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John Schaust

Chief Naturalist

Prior to joining Wild Birds Unlimited in 2004, John spent 26 years as a professional naturalist with federal, state and local agencies, specializing in environmental education, nature center operations and natural resources management. John is an avid birder and backyard bird feeder and has been a federally licensed bird bander for almost 30 years. As WBU’s Chief Naturalist, he enlists scientific research about birds in the development of new bird feeding products and nature education materials for WBU franchise stores.

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John Schaust

John Schaust

Chief Naturalist

FAQs

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How much does a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise cost?

The typical investment for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise is from $150,837 to $260,991, including franchise fee and working capital.

Does Wild Birds Unlimited offer an online shopping experience for retail customers?

Each WBU store has the opportunity to provide an online shopping experience through the MyWBU Store platform. The MyWBU Store offers customers the option to shop the store and have their items shipped or picked-up in the store.

How long does it take to open a Wild Birds Unlimited?

Our step-by-step franchise development process takes between 45-60 days. Once your site has been selected and a lease is signed, the site preparation will take between 60-90 days, depending on how much work your Landlord will do to the site and how much work you will have to do to the build out the space.

How much does a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise cost?

The typical investment for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise is from $150,837 to $260,991, including franchise fee and working capital.

Do I need to be a bird expert to successfully own and operate a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise?

You do need to have a level of passion and interest in nature and the hobby of back yard bird feeding, but we will teach you how become your community’s back yard bird feeding expert. All you need is the desire and interest to learn.

What are the financial qualifications to become a franchisee?

We are seeking someone with a minimum net worth of $300,000 and at least $40,000 to $50,000 in liquid capital.

How much is the franchise fee for Wild Birds Unlimited franchises?

New franchisees pay a $30,000 franchise fee upon signing the franchise agreement.

How long is the franchise agreement?

We offer 10-year renewable franchising agreements. Our renewal term is 5 years, with no fee upon renewal.

What is the best location for a Wild Birds Unlimited?

The best location for a Wild Birds Unlimited store is in a busy retail shopping center, typically anchored by big-box retailers and/or grocery stores that attract our target customers three to four times a week. We find that drive-by visibility is the #1 way to attract new customers…and once they find you the first time, it is your job to deliver an exceptional customer experience (and we will show you how to do just that!)

How big is the bird feeding industry?

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation National Overview (Issued August 2017):

  • 81 Million people participate in feeding birds and other wildlife
  • $5 Billion is spent annually on birdseed and wildlife food
  • $960 Million is spent annually on bird feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes
  • $1.8 Billion is spent annually on binoculars and spotting scopes
  • $7.6 Billion is spent annually on bird feeding and watching wildlife