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Wild Birds Unlimited Recognized at Franchise Leadership and Development Conference as Mystery Shopper STAR Award Winner
After fielding a cold-call from a pretend prospective franchisee, the brand was named the best at handling candidate inquiries over the phone.

Wild Birds Unlimited has long been recognized as one of the top brands in the franchising industry. With its proven business model and ever-growing system, it’s clear that the brand knows what to do in order to get both franchisees and consumers through its doors.

But at this year’s Franchise Leadership and Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, that positive reputation was given a strong boost. Wild Birds Unlimited was named the recipient of another STAR award, this time for being the brand that best handled a mystery shopper over the phone.

“We’re incredibly proud and honored to bring another STAR award home. The entire team at Wild Birds Unlimited is constantly striving to partner with the most qualified and passionate franchisees who will help expand our reach, so we’re excited to see that our hard work is paying off,” said Paul Pickett, Wild Birds Unlimited’s chief development officer.

In order to win the award, Wild Birds Unlimited’s franchise development team had to pass a series of tests. Those tests were carried out by Art Coley, CEO of CGI, and the rest of his team. After finding the brand’s phone number on its website in less than three clicks, Coley cold-called Wild Birds Unlimited pretending to be an entrepreneur interested in buying a franchise. The brand’s executive assistant passed the call along to Lisa Hammer, Wild Birds Unlimited’s manager of franchise development.

From there, Wild Birds Unlimited continued to pass the mystery shopping test with flying colors. Hammer asked Coley the right questions to see if he was a good match for the brand’s culture and system, and was then able to answer the questions that Coley posed as a prospective candidate.

“Paul, Lisa and the rest of the Wild Birds Unlimited team are a great example of how it’s done right. They were engaging throughout the entire process—they didn’t just tell us general information about the brand,” said Jenny Langfeld, COO at CGI. “They covered the basics like getting Art’s contact information and making sure he was financially qualified. But they also went above and beyond. For example, when it became clear that Art wasn’t ready to buy a franchise, they helped him understand franchising in general and even passed along book recommendations for him to get a better grasp on the industry. Ultimately, they won by a wide margin of several points.”

Wild Birds Unlimited does its due diligence when selecting franchisees to join its system—the brand isn’t looking to work with local owners who simply have the money to start a business. Bird feeding is one of the largest hobbies in the U.S., and there’s an entire culture surrounding its enthusiasts. As a leading, innovating provider of bird seed and other feeding products, Wild Birds Unlimited wants to ensure that its franchisees share a passion for connecting people with nature in order to best serve their customers.

“All of our franchise development efforts are designed to set our local owners up for success. The data that we collect and questions that we ask all go towards finding the ideal candidate,” said Pickett. “I believe that’s why we were able to win this year’s mystery shopper STAR award. We know what to do to find the local business owners who will take the Wild Birds Unlimited name and make it their own. Winning this award is just icing on the cake—there’s nothing better than having your team win an award because they’re doing a phenomenal job. As a franchise brand, that’s what you strive to do.”

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