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Mixing Business with Pleasure: How Wild Birds Unlimited Helps Franchisees Turn Their Passion and Hobby into a Profitable Career
20 years after launching her Greensboro, North Carolina location, Barbara Haralson is still just as excited about the brand’s growth potential as she was when she first signed her franchise agreement.

Barbara Haralson had been a longtime customer of Wild Birds Unlimited. While she was working on her master’s degree and her husband was working for a Fortune 500 company, she frequently made trips to the brand’s Nashville, Tennessee location. That’s because bird watching and feeding have always been two of Haralson’s favorite hobbies, and she recognized that Wild Birds Unlimited’s products were superior to anything else on the market. But it wasn’t until Haralson and her husband were looking for something new that they thought about joining the brand’s franchise system.

After her husband’s company made changes to its upper management team, the Haralsons decided to drop out of the “rat race”. Instead of climbing their way up the corporate ladder, they decided to build a business of their own. So, Haralson took her husband to the Wild Birds Unlimited store that she frequented and told him it was how she wanted to make a living.

“At first, he wondered how it was possible to build a career around connecting people with nature. But as soon as he got to know Wild Birds Unlimited’s culture and business model, he recognized its potential for success. We ultimately decided to follow our hearts, and signed an agreement to open up a location in Greensboro, North Carolina,” Haralson said. “The timing really couldn’t have been better—Greensboro has always been home to us, and we were looking for a way to make our way back there.”

Right off the bat, the Haralsons experienced success in the area. By working closely with Wild Birds Unlimited’s corporate support team, they were able to get their business off and running. And that momentum is still going strong two decades after opening their doors. As the Haralsons prepare to celebrate their 20th anniversary of being franchisees, they report that business couldn’t be better.  

“Even as a customer, I always knew that there was something special about Wild Birds Unlimited. But it really hit me that this brand is in a league of its own when we moved our store to a new location eight years ago. Not only was the corporate team supportive and there to walk me through everything that needed to be done to make the move a success, but we also saw our sales skyrocket. It really says something that an 11-year-old business can pick up new customers at such a rapid pace,” Haralson said.

Wild Birds Unlimited has a long history of attracting customers who are passionate about bird watching and feeding. As one of the most popular hobbies in the country, the brand’s products and exceptional customer service are in high demand. That’s why it’s no surprise that people who are enthusiastic about bird watching and feeding decide to take their interest in Wild Birds Unlimited to the next level as business owners.

“We make it a top priority to work with franchisees like Barbara who share our passion for being in tune with nature. By partnering with dedicated business owners, we’re ultimately able to ensure the success of the Wild Birds Unlimited brand in the long run,” said Paul Pickett, chief development officer for Wild Birds Unlimited. “At the end of the day, our business ownership opportunity is designed to set our local owners up for success.”

Haralson is far from the only franchisee who has been able to turn her passion into a career with the help of Wild Birds Unlimited. With more than 300 units thriving across the country and another 14 new franchise agreements expected to be signed in the first quarter of 2017 alone, the brand is on pace to meet or exceed its goal of awarding 20 new franchises this year. That means that entrepreneurs are capitalizing on Wild Birds Unlimited’s unique opportunity to launch a business that’s built off of their favorite hobby.

“Being able to mix business with pleasure through Wild Birds Unlimited is everything. There’s only a small number of people who are given the opportunity to make a living doing what they love, and I’m fortunate enough to be one of them,” said Haralson. “Of course, running a business takes a lot of hard work. But it doesn’t always feel that way. When you’re happy doing what you do, you’re so much more excited to see your business succeed. That’s what Wild Birds Unlimited has given me as a franchisee—it has exceeded every one of my expectations.”

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