In this exclusive Q&A, we get to know Dave Menough, Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee in Arvada, Colorado.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background. What drove you to franchise entrepreneurship?
Dave Menough (DM): I began my professional career as a teacher with a second degree in counseling. I taught fourth grade during the school year and spent summers counseling emotionally and socially-challenged children.
During my time as a teacher in Sheridan, Wyoming, I actually wrote the curriculum for the school district, as it had none previously. Teaching and learning are passions that provided me with transferable skills to my role as a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee.
I eventually moved to Arizona to pursue continuing education; however I found that my independent nature thrived in the retail sector. After a brief beginning with a small electronics company, I was recruited to work with major electronics and appliance manufacturers which distribute to the world’s largest retailers.
This job helped develop my passion for entrepreneurship and encouraged me to go into business ownership. With strong sales experience, but limited hands-on involvement in starting or running a business, I opted to explore franchise opportunities which provided a strong framework to succeed.
FC: Why did you decide to become a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee?
DM: I was introduced to Wild Birds Unlimited by my brother in 1989. He had just opened the first Wild Birds Unlimited west of the Mississippi and was truly enjoying his experience. Having grown up in the nature-rich environment of Colorado, Wild Birds Unlimited strongly appealed to me as well.
I did my due diligence—visiting well over a dozen Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees and franchisees from competing businesses prior to making my decision. Almost without exception, Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees had glowing reports about their experience with the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise support center.
After meeting with the founder and CEO, Jim Carpenter, and the Wild Birds franchise support staff, I was impressed by the integrity of the organization and made my decision to open my Arvada, Colorado store in August of 1992.
FC: What key criteria do you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
DM: My priorities in selecting a franchise were finding a structure which allowed me a degree of freedom in my business direction. The green aspect of the business was also a strong draw. The potential to enhance my customers’ quality of life by helping them enjoy the beauty around them was another factor.
FC: What sets your Wild Birds Unlimited apart from other retail stores specializing in birds in your community?
DM: Wild Birds Unlimited places equally high emphasis on not only the product, but the people (staff and customers alike) and processes, which sets us apart from the rest of the industry.
Our franchise support center has established unparalleled strategic alliances with governmental and non-governmental organizations, providing us with an edge in name recognition.
Our proprietary product development also sets us apart from the rest.
FC: Tell us about the level of training and support your franchisor provides.
DM: The franchise support center has developed a concise business plan that, when followed and implemented correctly, is effective and leads to success. Those who are new to business obtain a level of confidence and support that would not be found striking out on their own.
The franchise support center provides operating manuals, online training, a comprehensive marketing plan, human resource support, to name a few. Most importantly, the franchise support center is very receptive and responsive to the collective and individual needs of the franchisees.
FC: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
DM: Individuals who are considering opening a franchise need to conduct a preliminary self-assessment. If they can say they have the spirit, stamina and drive to be an entrepreneur, then finding the right franchise will give them the tools to achieve their dreams.
FC: What is your favorite part about being a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee?
DM: I am beyond pleased with the receptive nature of the franchise support center in considering the input from franchisees.
When my wife, Kathy, and I opened our store, the franchise was relatively young and still developing. Due to the vision of Jim Carpenter, his staff and input from owners, Wild Birds Unlimited has become a sophisticated organization with new accomplishments and trend-setting developments consistently in the works.
Wild Birds Unlimited has never rested on its laurels and continues to set the standards in our industry.
Owning a Wild Birds Unlimited store provides me with an extremely rare opportunity. I’m able to support my family and myself by enhancing the lives of others—human, feathered and furred. I have a solid revenue stream, freedom to continue additional interests outside my business and the joy of pursuing my birding passion professionally.
I’ve been able to successfully blend business with pleasure, for Kathy and I consider the staff at the franchise support center our friends. They encourage us and are truly devoted to the success of each franchisee.
FC: How do you plan to further grow your business?
DM: We plan on continuing the growth of our business by executing the proven and creative marketing avenues provided by the franchise. Also, we implemented an Energy project recently developed by the franchise support center which has increased sales and efficiency in the managing of people, product, processes and more.
We made a great decision when we joined the Wild Birds Unlimited family and see the sky as the limit for our business.
Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 280 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Visit their website and shop online at www.wbu.com. To learn how you can open your own Wild Birds Unlimited, visit www.wbufranchise.com.