Mar 31
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“How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything” – I first heard this saying many years ago during a yoga class of all places. The instructor was speaking about being in the moment and that if you practiced this concept during yoga class, you would start the habit of doing so in other parts of your life.

While I sort of practiced being in the moment during the rest of the class, the concept was still in my mind weeks later. I realized how true it was for me and for just about everyone I know.

Think about it. If you are someone who struggles with deadlines at work, you probably get your taxes filed at 11:30 PM on April 14th. If you are a detail person, you never have to spend time looking for a file or folder, either at work or at home. If you write prompt thank you notes after a dinner party, you probably also write thoughtful notes to your coworkers if they finish up a big work project or get a promotion.

I then applied this concept to our franchise store owners. Who are the first to respond to a survey, get their data submitted ahead of schedule? Conversely, who struggles with getting things accomplished or delegating tasks efficiently? Even something as simple as getting in a signed/dated FDD receipt was an insight into how a person would behave once they joined the Wild Birds Unlimited system.

Join the FlockThis insight inspired me to create a franchise development process that accomplishes multiple tasks. First and foremost, the process provides a clear path of discovery to help potential Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees completely understand our system, how we support our individual stores, what it takes to be strong franchisee and answers that age old question – “Is this franchise the right match for me?”

While our development process is focused on helping our potential franchisees to make a sound business decision, it is also a tool for us to determine if they are a good match for our system. Are they willing to follow a process? Are they organized and focused in their approach to getting into business for themselves? Are they communicating according to a set schedule so that they can advance through the stages of the process efficiently? Are they self-starters or do you have to constantly remind them to complete all of their development tasks? These are all qualities that our strong franchisees possess. We want to make sure that our candidates possess those same qualities, too. The answers to these questions become indicators of how they will operate their business day-to-day.

As a Franchise Development professional, your job is to ensure that the match between your brand and your candidates is strong and that the foundation has been set for a long and successful working relationship.

“How you do anything is how you do everything.” Monitor closely the habits of your franchise candidates throughout the development process and you will get a good indication of how they will execute their business practices once they become a franchisee. Take the time to assess what skills may need to be developed and whether your candidate is willing to learn and grow to follow your system and execute best practices. Then help them to understand your expectations. For your brand, for your existing franchisees, and most importantly for the candidate, it is worth the effort.

Jan 29
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Jim Carpenter, Founder, President & CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited

Jim Carpenter, Founder, President & CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited

Everyone wants to know, but how many of us ask, “How did I do?” Getting feedback from your customers, peers or supervisors on how you handled a situation, interaction or conversation can be one of the most productive ways to increase your effectiveness, efficiency and meet your goals.

At Wild Birds Unlimited, we have tried to make asking this question, and acting on the feedback, a foundational part of our culture. But, it can be hard to do. It makes you vulnerable and if you aren’t committed to making positive changes, it can move you out of your comfort zone.

For us, it starts at the top. Our CEO, Jim Carpenter, asks the question all the time. Whether it is how he handled congratulating one of our franchisees on a job well done, how he explained the way we provide leadership training to one of our franchise candidates or how he communicated goals and expectations to one of our proprietary vendors, he follows up by asking, “How did I do?” If the members of a leadership team aren’t prepared to expose themselves to both compliments and constructive criticism, how can we expect those team members who are on the front lines in our retail stores to be willing to receive that same level of feedback?

One of the tools we use to assess how we’re doing with our franchise store owners is an annual Franchisee Satisfaction Survey provided by Franchise Business Review (FBR), a third-party resource. We have participated in the FBR Annual Franchisee Satisfaction Survey for 11 years now. FBR surveys hundreds of franchise brands, using a series of in-depth questions, to compare satisfaction levels across all areas of operations. We are proud to say that Wild Birds Unlimited has ranked in FBR’s Top 10 of all franchises for 11 years running.

We have some of the most satisfied franchisees in the franchise industry! Yet, our pride in our accomplishments cannot keep us from paying serious attention to some of the more critical comments provided through the survey…and sometimes that criticism can be hard to hear. But, the reality is that while we may receive negative feedback, it opens the door for improvement.

If we never ask, “How did I do?” we will never foster a culture of real communication, a culture of commitment, or, in my opinion, a culture of true success.

May 02
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Baby Barred Owls

Baby Barred Owls

We are excited to announce we have partnered with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to give families nationwide something to hoot about with a live Barred Owl Nest Cam. Children and their parents can join in the excitement by tuning into the live streaming video to see what a day in the life of a Barred Owl family is like. Not only do families get a unique glimpse into the lives of one of nature’s endearing bird species, but they are also able to learn about the different stages of their development and watch the fledglings as they venture out on their own.

Through the live video, which can also be found on AllAboutBirds.org, as well as the Wild Birds Unlimited website, children have the opportunity to explore the remarkable lifecycle of these dynamic creatures as they watch the baby owlets open their eyes, stretch their legs and wings, interact with their family, and evolve into young owls. The Barred Owl Cam is a great way to introduce children to nature while building science skills by encouraging to use their imagination to make observations such as “What will Dad bring next; a snake, a fish or a crayfish?”

“I have been watching the owl cam during work and find it incredibly relaxing,” said Rachel Smith of Real Realm Distribution, Inc., who learned about the owl cam at a recent conference she co-attended with Wild Birds Unlimited employees. “I have shared the cam with fellow colleagues as well as friends. It has really opened our eyes and has helped my son learn about Barred Owls.”

For the past 15 years, Jim Carpenter, Founder & CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, has hosted a camera-equipped owl box in his wooded backyard. Set more than 30 feet high against the trunk of a pignut hickory tree, the box was home to a series of occupants throughout this winter, including squirrels and raccoons. Earlier this spring, a mama Barred Owl set up residence in the nest box to raise a family with her mate. In March, she has laid three eggs which all hatched in April.

“I am very honored that our owl cam was chosen by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to be a featured cam on their website,” said Carpenter. “They have been true professionals giving guidance and encouragement throughout the project. The Lab has enabled us to expand the network of viewers from customers of Wild Birds Unlimited to a world-wide network of viewers. It is a rare privilege to be able to watch these wonderful owl parents raise their family with an incredible diverse food selection from the woods and fields behind my house. My hope is that even more people watch this wonderful cam as it helps us understand the miracle and importance of birds in our environment.”

To help celebrate the Barred Owl Cam, Wild Birds Unlimited and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology are encouraging people to help name the owlets. On May 6 and May 7, viewers can visit the contest page to vote for their favorite names. The winning names will be announced on May 8.

The young owls will leave the nest at approximately four to five weeks of age and remain in the branches of the nest tree until they are able to fly at around 10 weeks of age. They will stay together with their siblings throughout the summer and are fed by their parents. Then, the young will strike out on their own in late summer when the parents slowly wean them from feedings. Who will be the first to leave home and venture out on their own? Stay tuned to find out!

ABOUT WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 280 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Wild Birds Unlimited recently ranked No. 9 overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2014 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards Top 200 Franchises list. Visit our website and shop online at www.wbu.com. To learn how you can open your own Wild Birds Unlimited, visit www.wbufranchise.com.

Apr 09
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Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Mini High Perch Hummingbird feeder

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Mini High Perch Hummingbird feeder

Hummingbirds are making the journey north. You can track their progress at the Journey North web site. These miniature marvels have been migrating between North and Central America for thousands of years, a round trip in which millions of hummingbirds instinctively participate.

Are you ready for their return? Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry your nectar feeders. Do you need to replace an old feeder? Shop our online store – shop.wbu.com

You can make hummingbird nectar at home! For a home-made version, the ratio is four parts water to one part sugar (ex: one cup of water to ¼ cup sugar). Boil the water to rid it of chlorination and allow the sugar to dissolve easily. Pour it over the sugar and stir until dissolved. Once cooled off, fill your feeder and keep the rest in a nectar bottle in the refrigerator. Do not use dyes, brown sugar or honey. Commercial nectar that you purchase should be free of red dye. The sugar used in boxed nectar is superfine and can easily be made with boiled water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

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Apr 05
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Dad brings home a crawdad for dinner

Dad brings home a crawdad for dinner

Dad keeping a watchful eye

Dad keeping a watchful eye

Dad off to get more crawdads

Dad off to get more crawdads

Mom enjoying a crawdad for dinner

Mom enjoying a crawdad for dinner

How cool is this! Jim Carpenter, owner and CEO of WBU, got some great shots of the Barred Owl family doing what every typical family does, have dinner together. Thursday, April 3rd, we had about 4” of rain here in the Indianapolis area. So, the crawdads must have been out on top of their little clay chimneys. Dad, the good provider, caught one and brought it home for dinner.

Stay tuned, we are expecting the first egg to hatch very soon. Watch our livestream cam on our web site to check in on the family.

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Mar 21
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Have you tried our bird seed cylinders yet? They are a great way to keep the birds at your feeders a little longer. The cylinders are compacted seeds and nuts, held together with gelatin, so the birds have to work to get just the right seed.

Watch this video to see them in action and enjoy the birds!

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Mar 05
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Be entertained and learn more about woodpeckers.

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Mar 14
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Watch this entertaining video to see some beautiful birds nesting!

Feb 27
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“Last week was bitter cold and the birds were crazy at the feeders. This week is warm and sunny and there are no birds in sight. What’s going on?”

Birds need calories to stay warm. They get their calories from food for which they are constantly foraging. The feeders in our yards are a supplement to birds’ daily food intake.

Normal winter weather will bring a steady flow of bird activity to our feeders. However, when the weather turns severe (cold rains, ice, snow, frigid temperatures, etc.), the activity at feeders can seem crazy-busy. The birds need more calories to stay warm under these conditions and are using your feeders as a very helpful source of energy.

When the weather warms up, the birds need fewer calories, their foraging decreases and the activity at your feeders will naturally decrease.

Keep an eye out for crazy weather patterns and keep your feeders clean and the food fresh. The birds will thank you.

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Feb 12
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Join our Cheif Naturalist, John Schaust, as he prepares for the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), scheduled for February 14 through February 17, 2014.

The annual four day event is a joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society. Wild Birds Unlimited is a sponsor for the event.

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