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Making Better Business Decisions One Franchisee at a Time: Enterprise Coaching Model Enters Its Third Year at Wild Birds Unlimited
1851 Franchise interviewed Betsy Westfall, WBU Enterprise Coach, to find out more about the program and how it aims to help backyard bird feeding enthusiasts enhance their store ownership experience

Enterprise Coaching is Wild Birds Unlimited’s mentoring group for existing store owners who qualify. Enterprise Coaching members are highly engaged and have a desire to build an enterprise. To qualify, owners must meet specified criteria and complete a self-assessment outlining their goals for the year.

The Enterprise Coaching program is one of four in WBU’s Coaching Model. Other programs include New Owner Coaching, Business Development Coaching and Answer Center Coaching. This article describes focuses on the Enterprise Coaching program.

1851: What is enterprise coaching in your own words?

Westfall: Enterprise Coaching at WBU is where the coaches have a relationship with store owners. It’s more intense than a business coach to franchisee relationship. The store owners choose to be in this program and must meet qualifications that align with our best practices. First, they have to have the desire and willingness to participate. Second, they have to provide data to us that we send to the other enterprise stores.

1851: What drives the program?

Westfall: It’s a data driven program with peer to peer communication. The model allows them to make better business decisions based on facts. It’s a way to think about their business at a higher level. The participants have accountability to themselves, to us, and to other store owners. They are required to do a business assessment and state certain goals they want to accomplish. The goals can relate to finances, staff management, marketing, etc.

1851: What is the benefit?

Westfall: The benefit to store owners has to do with the old adage “knowledge is power.” Through data sharing, local store owners have more exact information to make better decisions. It helps some franchisees build their sales quicker, for example. It can help bottom line profit and cash flow. One of the best advantages is the peer to peer connection. The program has its own email group, group calls and videos arranged around various topics. It provides a higher level of engagement all the way around.

1851: What is the process to get involved?

Westfall: When franchisees enter into WBU, they first work in the New Owner Development Team. This team is designed to get new owners off to a strong start in owning their store. After that first year of operations, franchisees work with a designated Business Coach to continue to implement WBU best practices. I am one of the Business Coaches for the Enterprise Coaching model; it’s all I focus on. The main difference between the Enterprise Coaching model from the three others is the data sharing. It’s also a little more intensive than the other models. For example, I have a monthly call with each of my 31 mentees, and I am one of three Enterprise Coaches.

1851: What do you talk about on the calls?

Westfall: Each call is customized based on their assessment goals and what questions/initiatives they are currently working on. We talk about financial results, their staff team, their in-store customer experience and any upcoming training topics. What we talk about really depends where the franchisee(s) are in the life cycle of their store. In other words, this is the franchisees’ time, and they are free to set the agenda with me. I do my best to support them and move them forward in a positive direction.

1851: What is the background of the Enterprise Coaching program?

Westfall: Our retail operations department worked together as a team to determine how best to meet the different owners’ level of engagement and move the franchisees’ forward. We discussed the importance of exceptional support at each level but it wasn’t a one size to fit all; we wanted this group to be comprised of owners that want to share data, ideas and be or become an Enterprise business.

Our department originally started with three people in 1993, and now we are a department of 12. Our coaching models (Enterprise, Business Development, New Owner and Answer Center models) are headed into their third year.

1851: What is the benefit of Enterprise Coaching to the franchisor?

Westfall: The entire system benefits. WBU is a learning organization. Because we have a consistency of process, it helps us learn much faster by having this group of highly engaged owners who have a shared vision and are using the system to move their businesses forward as quickly as possible. We support them, and they support us. The stores are so engaged. They  drive results and set a positive example for the rest of the system.

1851: Tell us something about your colleagues who are also Enterprise Coaches.

Westfall: All three of us come from a retail background and have a good amount of tenure here. Scott MacDonald owned and operated his own men’s clothing business, Christa Anderson for Federated then Target as a Store Manager. I came from a Midwest Retail Department Store chain. We bring a strong, diverse level of experience to the group. We enjoy working together and learn from each other as well as our owners. It’s fun and challenging. I learn from all of them every day.

1851: Describe your clients.

Westfall: Our franchisees love their stores and want to make them better. They want new ideas and motivation, which makes my job engaging and motivating as well. These people are focused and ready to go. I really do love my job. That's the greatest part, working with people for whom you can help move the dial faster.

1851: How much does it cost to be a part of Enterprise Coaching?

Westfall: It does not cost any money. It is included as part of royalty fee no matter what level of coaching they participate in.

1851: Do Enterprise Coaching members get together at the annual conference?

Westfall: Every year we have an Enterprise Coaching workshop at the conference. It’s 90 minutes long and is always a topic driven discussion. When members come to the session, they know what they want to talk about. This year, for example, we grouped them at tables of 10, and they did a case study together that they could take back and also do for their own business.

Franchisee Feedback:

Retiring franchisees Nancy Castillo and Lois Geshiwlm Saratoga Springs, New York report the following:

Castillo: “Betsy is a fantastic partner as we moved into the Enterprise Coaching model and now as we exit and retire. We bounce things off of her. She has been a valuable partner in our business.”
Geshiwlm: “We were fortunate to be part of this unique group where everyone focused on numbers, which increased our knowledge and power. You have more data being collected that you can analyze in multiple ways to help you understand your business to the ninth degree.”

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