Registered Nurse Hangs Up Scrubs to Become a Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Owner

Kindell Tolmie, Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Owner Since 2020

In January 2020, Kindell Tolmie hung up her scrubs after a 15-year career as a registered nurse to pursue her passion for birds and nature as a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner. Her passion for people and love of nature and backyard bird feeding are what brought her to Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU)—first as a client, then as a franchise owner. She felt aligned with Wild Birds Unlimited’s mission of “Bringing People and Nature Together” and loves sharing her knowledge and stories about birds and nature through her two thriving WBU businesses. She purchased her second WBU franchise location in 2022 and today has 15 employees. Here is Kindell’s story of transitioning from registered nurse to multi-unit Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner.

Why did you purchase a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise rather than start an independent business?

After a busy 15-year career as a Registered Nurse, I was looking for an opportunity to change careers and follow my passion for birds and nature! The opportunity to franchise with Wild Birds Unlimited seemed like the perfect fit. I knew joining a franchise would ensure I had the support I would need to be successful. Without experience running my own business, the WBU Franchise Support Center has immensely supported me in many areas, from training, coaching, and marketing support to merchandising, product education, and more. I have felt very supported, which in turn has made for a very successful four years as a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner!

Did you have your mind set on a specific industry or brand from the start?

I was a customer at the Wild Birds Unlimited Ottawa location (which we later purchased in 2022), so I was very familiar with the brand, the products, and the energy of the WBU shopping experience. I had visited similar independent businesses when I was exploring the franchise opportunity. Wild Birds Unlimited aligned with my core values, from the customer experience to the quality of products.

Which of your skills and experience were most helpful in operating your new business?

I would say that it started with my keen interest and passion for birds and nature and my desire to share the joy I experience through the hobby with others. Also, hosting weekly Facebook Live presentations (during the pandemic), engaging with and educating our customers on the sales floor, and training and motivating our staff have all been pivotal in getting our new business off to a flying start.

When researching franchises to buy, what criteria or data points mattered to you most?

It was very important that I invested in a franchise brand that I aligned with. When we traveled to the Franchise Support Center and sat down with different teams within the Franchise to ‘meet the flock,’ we were 100% certain that we aligned with the franchise culture and the brand. We also took the time to research our demographic and location to ensure that the business would be successful.

Did you use FBR’s website or download franchisee satisfaction reports?

We utilized FBR’s franchise satisfaction reports provided by the franchise during our due diligence process.

Did you speak with other franchisees? Which questions did you ask?

We took the time to speak with many different franchisees, from similar markets to multi-unit owners. We asked a lot of questions! But what was most important to us was hearing their stories, how they got started, if they felt supported (by the franchise), and if they would do it all over again.

Which questions did you ask the franchisor?

Again, we asked a lot of questions of the WBU franchise team! As we developed our business plan, we were in constant contact with Seth Holan from the franchise, asking many questions along the way.

What were your biggest challenges when you first started out, and how did you overcome them?

We opened our Kanata store location in 2020, which was a challenging year for any business, let alone a new business. However, we used the opportunity to engage our community through our social pages through educational and inspiring posts and videos before we opened. By the time we opened our store in July 2020, we were met with a community of followers who were so excited to participate in the hobby of backyard bird feeding. Our rapid growth allowed us to purchase the Ottawa store location in 2022.

How does the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise support and encourage your success?

I recently joined the Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Advisory Council. This role has allowed me to represent our fellow franchisees, share concerns and ideas, and participate in the decision-making process. I feel the franchise does an amazing job of collaborating with its franchisees and recognizing the tools needed to create an exceptional customer experience in our stores.

What are you most proud of and why?

I am so proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time. We have grown from a small team of five employees to 15, with four assistant managers. We have quarterly meetings where we set and review our goals, and together, we execute an exceptional customer experience. Every day, we continue to grow and expand our business by offering more community events and partnerships, and we’re excited for future business growth. We recognize the most important part of our business is the people who walk through our doors each day – our customers and our staff.

What advice would you give to new or potential franchise buyers?

Learn something new every day and have fun with it! Immerse yourself in your hobby, chat with your customers, and listen to their stories. That will fuel your business.

For more information on the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise opportunity, visit

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