How Lisa McGill, Wild Birds Unlimited’s Manager of Franchise Development, fosters relationships with incoming candidates to drive growth in a meaningful way.
Armed with experience in both the retail and health care industries, Lisa McGill might have been a stranger to the franchise industry, but she certainly understood the secret to successful business development.
So when she was asked to join the Wild Birds Unlimited team as the Manager of Franchise Development, her first question to Paul Pickett, the brand’s Chief Development Officer, was this: “Why hire someone with no franchise experience?”
Pickett’s answer would eventually chart the course for McGill’s career with Wild Birds Unlimited.
“Paul told me that he hired me for my talent and vision. He said, ‘I don’t want to have to break all of the bad habits that I’ve seen in franchise development professionals.’ That ultimately allowed me to think outside the box,” McGill said. “From the very beginning, he encouraged me to come up with more efficient ways to accomplish our franchise development needs, and oftentimes, that meant challenging industry standards and offering up new ideas.”
During the 12 months after her hire, McGill absorbed as much information as possible about the franchise industry. Fortunately, she had the support of a tenured team to help her along the way. But it was ultimately Wild Birds Unlimited’s endearing culture that made the career transition a seamless one.
“The learning curve was certainly steep. But I found that Wild Birds Unlimited matched my personal value system perfectly. This is a brand that’s all about fostering relationships and promoting communication that is filled with integrity and transparency,” McGill said. “The brand has an overall belief that goodness should always be paid forward, and that we should all care for others. That helped me to fall in love with both the brand, and the franchise industry.”
In the years ahead, McGill made it her goal to bring those values into the brand’s franchise development process. She got started by first analyzing what prospective franchisees look for when assessing the right brand to invest in. And she should know—before coming to Wild Birds Unlimited, McGill first looked into becoming a franchisee herself.
“When I joined Wild Birds Unlimited, my vision was built off the things that I looked for in a franchise. As a potential franchisee, I wanted full transparency. I wanted to know if existing franchisees were happy. And I wanted to know that a business I was evaluating had the potential to be a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship,” McGill added. “It is my goal to make sure that kind of information reaches every single prospect that comes to Wild Birds Unlimited. I believe I understand how candidates want to be treated. I keep my own experiences that in mind when working with Wild Birds Unlimited’s franchise development process.”
That’s where McGill’s keen attention to relationships came into play. Through fostering meaningful, one-on-one relationships with candidates, existing franchisees and Wild Birds Unlimited’s corporate team, the brand’s founding mission to enhance lives is plays out beautifully. And so far, it’s clear McGill’s dedication is paying off in a big way. Following the brand’s best year in franchise development in over a decade, Wild Birds Unlimited kicked off 2017 with 14 new franchise agreements already in the works in the first quarter. In the years ahead, McGill’s goal is to continue her focus on fostering relationships to fuel strategic growth with happy, committed franchisees.
“I think Wild Birds Unlimited is unique in the passion and joy that both our owners and their customers experience on a daily basis. We really care that our franchisees are happy, and we work hard to develop processes and systems that support their continued satisfaction,” McGill said. “People want to be happy, simply put. And we want them to experience that with Wild Birds Unlimited. That’s the real secret to longevity.”