Barbara and Chip Whipkey, Wild Birds Unlimited Franchisees
Barbara Whipkey has loved birds her whole life. So, when the opportunity came around to own a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise in her home state of Maryland, it was a no-brainer!
When did you purchase your franchise?
We purchased our franchise in the spring of 2015 and opened our doors in August of 2015.
What was it about the franchise model and or leadership that led you to purchase it?
The education that Wild Birds Unlimited offered to both its franchisees and to its customers stood out to me immediately. I never felt that the goal was to sell me a franchise, but rather they were focused on making sure that I was a good fit for the franchise, for running my own business and that this would be a positive outcome for all of us. It wasn’t about the sale, but rather about the success of all involved.
What type of business experience, education, and/or skills did you have prior to becoming a franchisee that you have found particularly helpful?
I have had an interest in birds since I was a teenager and was already obsessively feeding the birds, so the love of the hobby was already there. As a former teacher, education was important to me. I enjoy teaching, but in particular, I enjoy teaching about nature. I also owned a Pet Sitting Service for eight years, so owning my own business was nothing new to me.
What do you like most about your job?
My customers are the favorite part of my business. I love sharing the hobby and educating my customers. My favorite thing to hear a customer say is, “I learn something new every time I come into the store.” I am thrilled when a customer comes in excited to share a story of happenings at their feeders or a new bird they saw.
How did you fund your franchise? Did you receive any discounts/incentives?
We used the equity in our home to loan the business the start-up funds. We did receive a military discount as both my husband and I are Marine Veterans.
What advice do you have for prospective franchise buyers?
My advice would be to follow the franchise’s advice. They have done the work, tweaked the process and know what works and what doesn’t. If you follow their steps and heed their advice, there will be no surprises and you will be successful. They leave no room for failure.