Members of the brand’s operations, development and store management teams visited 10 stores across Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The holiday season can be a stressful one, especially for those working in the retail industry. Between crowded stores and an influx of moving merchandise, there’s no shortage of tasks that store owners need to keep in mind. But surviving the holiday season in retail doesn’t need to be so stressful. Wild Birds Unlimited, for example, uses it as an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to its franchisees.
Every year, members of Wild Birds Unlimited’s corporate team embark on what has become known as “TheMistletoe Tour”. These spirited members of the Franchise Support Center staff travel to a handful of stores in order to connect with franchisees in-person to cheer them on during this busy time of year.
“The holiday season is one of the most lucrative times of the year in the retail industry, but it’s also the craziest. That’s why we schedule our Mistletoe Tour around the holidays—it’s great to be able to encourage our stores when they’re feeling stretched the thinnest ,” said Lisa McGill, Manager of Franchise Development for Wild Birds Unlimited. “The purpose behind the Mistletoe Tour is purely positive reinforcement. Our goal is to gather ideas from franchisees that we can then share with other local owners in our system to better position everyone for success. Plus, it’s important that we have the opportunity as a corporate team to say thank you to our franchisees and recognize how hard they’re working.”
McGill was one of five people who set out on the 2017 Mistletoe Tour. She was joined by other members of the operations, development and store management teams, and together they traveled over 700 miles by car to visit 10 stores across Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. While on the tour, Wild Birds Unlimited corporate team members were able to share ideas for merchandising throughout the holiday season, request feedback for continued improvement of support, listen to comments about vendors, look for sales trends, and connect stores in the region by sharing pictures and stories on the brand’s internal communication system. But according to Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer for Wild Birds Unlimited, the purpose of the Mistletoe Tour ultimately comes down to one thing: spreading joy.
“It’s just a nice way to engage with our franchisees and share the joy. And the tour’s reach extends beyond the stores that are visited—we post updates from the tour on our community board so that people across our entire system can see what’s going on,” Pickett said. “I also set out on my own personal Mistletoe Tour, which gave me the opportunity to visit 12 different stores over 4.5 days. It’s important to have members of the development team like myself out in the field talking to both new and established franchisees to learn more about where there are pain points and what we can do to help.”
The corporate team members and stores that are visited change every year, ensuring that the Mistletoe Tour has a broad reach. Going forward, Wild Birds Unlimited is looking forward to continuing this tradition in an effort to maintain its position as a leader in providing franchisee support.
“Every year, the Mistletoe Tour leads to helpful insights about the Wild Birds Unlimited brand. Whether it’s talking about the best ways to merchandise or how to bolster business through marketing, there are a lot of different things that we’re looking at and listening to with the goal of enhancing our franchise system for both current and potential franchisees,” McGill said. “This was my first year on the Mistletoe Tour, and I’m definitely eager to go back. Being selected to go into the field and meet one on one with our franchisees is considered a privilege, and we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition in the years to come.”