Wild Birds Unlimited multi-unit franchise owner, Kyle Odom provides insight into what it’s like to own and operate two retail franchises in Texas.
Name: Kyle Odom
Franchise Location: San Antonio and Boerne, Texas
Number of Employees: 8
Franchise Owner Since 2019
Did you have prior experience running your own business or managing a team before opening your franchise?
I’m a Native Texan and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. After college, I taught High School for a number of years, then moved into the corporate world in Operations Management and Business Development, most recently in the technology sector with Xerox Corporation. Throughout my career, regardless of my role, I have focused on customer experience and customer outcomes. Taking care of customers is my passion. My focus on our customers’ experience drives every decision I make. As a manager of people, I am equally passionate about creating an environment where team members are valued and appreciated. This has a direct impact on our customer experience.
Today, I own two units, in San Antonio and Boerne, TX and I have eight employees. The San Antonio store opened in 1996 and I acquired the business in 2019. The Boerne store will be opened in 2023.
Were you a bird enthusiast or hobbyist prior to starting your own Wild Birds Unlimited business?
I have been a lifelong nature enthusiast, having grown up in a family that values nature and the outdoors. I am specifically interested in backyard bird observation.
What were your top criteria when exploring franchise opportunities?
My top driver was finding a productive business model that was customer-focused and aligned with my values and interests. Specific criteria that I looked at included industries or markets which had personal resonance for me, proven commercial success of the model, a culture that values people as well as results, independence to create my own business within the Franchise framework, and proven positive Franchisee experience demonstrating a successful Franchise model.
During your research, did you view the FBR Franchisee Satisfaction Survey results and Top Franchise awards? If so, did they have an impact on your decision?
I did review the Satisfaction Survey results and Awards. They painted a clear picture that the WBU Franchise model accommodated my criteria.
What convinced you that Wild Birds Unlimited was the right brand for you?
As a WBU customer in several markets, I was aware of the specialty nature of the model and the customer-centered experience in the stores. I specifically appreciate the educational element of the WBU model. As store owners, we are charged with helping customers understand the geographic specifics of wild bird feeding and how to manage that hobby responsibly. Ultimately, it was the educational focus of the model combined with the Franchise Mission that finalized it for me.
What was your experience like when you first began speaking with the Wild Birds Unlimited corporate team?
The discovery process was so well-structured. It really impressed me. It was clear that it was critically important to the Development team that we determine as quickly as possible whether or not it was a great fit for all parties. The clearly outlined process steps ensured that the conversations happened in the right sequence and with the right focus.
Did you speak with or meet with other Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees?
I did speak with other owners and I visited existing stores. This is part of the WBU Discovery Process in their onboarding model. Franchise HQ provided a solid model to follow for store visits and that structure proved helpful. Other Franchisees I spoke with were open and honest in their feedback.
How does Wild Birds Unlimited support you and your success?
WBU Franchise offers a number of Coaching Models. Based on the model an owner chooses, the support will vary. As an owner of the Enterprise Model, I have regular meetings with my Coach and am offered the opportunity for bidirectional communication. The Marketing Plan is outlined clearly and store owners can follow as tightly or loosely as they choose, adding their own elements of marketing using components provided by the Franchise. I am constantly impressed with the support of the WBU Information Systems team. They are solidly customer-focused on the experience of their store owners.
Do you currently participate in the Franchisee Satisfaction Surveys? If so, do you feel your feedback is heard?
I do participate in the WBU Satisfaction Surveys. I also know that if I should ever feel that my feedback is not heard, I have other avenues to direct that feedback, whether through my Business Coach, my Advisory Committee rep, or directly to leadership.
Is Wild Birds Unlimited a full-time or part-time business for you? Tell us about your typical day.
This is a full-time business for me. A typical day is spent managing back-office necessities combined with the energizing time spent in the showroom. My favorite part of the day is the time spent on the storefront with our customers and our team. We have fun at what we do.
What sets Wild Birds Unlimited apart from the competition?
Our focus on optimized customer experience differentiates us. Excellent customer service, combined with high-quality products and hobby-specific expertise sets us apart.
Thinking back to the first year or two in business, what were your biggest challenges?
I acquired my business in late 2019, so it was not long after that we were faced with the challenges of the pandemic. Apart from that, having come from a corporate background, one of my biggest challenges was retail merchandising. Fortunately, I have team members in my store who can supplement my merchandising challenges!
How does your business engage with the local community? Have you joined any community groups or Chamber of Commerce organizations?
We are a member of the local Chambers and are involved with community groups like Bexar Audubon, San Antonio Audubon, the University of Texas San Antonio Department of Science & Ecology, and local parks and conservation organizations.
What advice would you give to potential WBU franchisees?
I would suggest that as in any business, the end result is dependent on the energy you bring to it. It is awesome to have the framework and support provided by the Franchise, but it’s my business. The most critical element to me is to have the right team members in the right roles to best take care of our customers. If I clearly communicate my mission, values, and expectations, the team can run with it and we can build a replicable, scalable customer experience.
For more information on the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise opportunity:
Call: (888) 730-7108