Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Paul Pickett, CDO at Wild Birds Unlimited
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Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Paul Pickett, CDO at Wild Birds Unlimited

Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Q&A with Paul Pickett, CDO at Wild Birds Unlimited

As part of our ongoing coverage of Covid-19 and its effects on franchising, we’re asking franchise development leaders what they’re doing about franchisee recruitment and sales during the crisis. Here’s what Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer at Wild Birds Unlimited, told us. If you have a story to tell about what you’re doing to support your franchisees, please email us at stories@franchising.com.

What are you doing differently with your franchise development program as a result of Covid-19?

We are not signing any new agreements right now. We are staying engaged with candidates and having our first RingCentral meeting with a small group today. We just need to know how this is going to play out, and how WBU stores will recover before we bring in a new franchisee and ask them to make this sort of commitment. We have changed our messaging (sending out more information about enjoying nature, kid’s activities, focus on planning and investigating) to avoid seeming desperate or predatory – but have actually upped our spend.

What are your plans for the next 60 days (April and May)?

More of the same: lots of contact with existing candidates. We had a couple of articles written about our response from us to franchisees, and from franchisees to customers. If our online video conferencing goes well, we will expand that effort significantly.

What are your plans for the following 90 days (June, July, August)?

We expect to see more focus on transfers than new stores, so we are reviewing and editing our documentation and assistance to both buyers and sellers on that front.

Have you made major changes to your franchisee recruitment program or sales process?

We have not – but I have never worked so hard to help my existing franchisees get financing and rent relief. This working from home is for the birds! I am working 12- to 14-hour days.

Have you made any changes to the roles or duties of your team?

No. We are just in high-contact mode.

Published: May 8th, 2020

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