Wish you could combine your love of nature and business? Good news – Wild Birds Unlimited may be the right franchise for you by serving serious bird watchers.

How much will it cost to open a Wild Birds Unlimited store? You’ll need an initial investment of $185,179 – $311,043 to open a store. You’ll also need $40,000 – $50,000 of liquid capital and a net worth of $300,000. Take our franchise quiz to find our if Wild Birds Unlimited is the right opportunity for you. 

Here’s my analysis of the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise opportunity. As with any franchise there are pros / cons. Be sure to check out my concerns about the business below.

Financial Requirements and Fees

Here is a base overview of what the essential finance requirements are for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise. These numbers only give you a general idea of what you need to start the franchise and may not include the all additional costs needed. As you will see, the financial investment isn’t as hefty as other franchises. 

Fees/ Expenses Amount Needed
Liquid Capital $40,000 – $50,000
Net Worth $300,000
Royalty Fee 4% of store’s gross sales
Estimated Initial Investment $185,179 – $311,043

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the fees required to partner up in a Wild Birds franchise.

Fee Low-End Costs High-End Costs
Relocation Fee $43 $67
Annual Insurance $500 $2,500
Office Equipment $9,000 $13,000
Retail Fixtures $17,000 $28,000
Opening Inventory $27,000 $34,000
First Month’s Rent $3,000 $7,500

It is important to note that these are just the initial costs you’ll need to get your business started. The following are fees that are required of you as a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner.

Type of Fee Amount
Training Fee $5,000
Gift Card Fee $100 per store
POS Installation Fee $3,600
Advertising Fee $5,000
MyWBU Store Implementation Fee $850
Local Advertising  2%
Marketing Fee 4.5% with $500/month
Franchise Fee $40,000
Gift Cards $100
MyWBU.com $1,130

Average Sales / Revenue per Year

In 2020, the average sales for stores open for a full year averaged $687,516. For the outlets that were the most successful, their annual sales averaged $942,543.

Franchise Facts

Total Units 348
Incorporated Name: Carmel, IN
Franchising since: 1983
Industry: Miscellaneous Retail Stores
Subsector: Pet Stores

In 1983, Jim Carpenter decided to open a business that focused on building community and building a love of bird feeding. Wild Birds Unlimited (with nearly 350 units across the United States) began to franchise outlets out to business owners looking for a way to invest in pet stores and retail.

Each franchise store carries everything you could possibly need to engage in the hobby of backyard bird feeding, including feeders, seed, nest boxes, bird baths, and bird houses to name a few.

What’s the Average Profit of Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Per Year?

Wild Birds Unlimited doesn’t make financial statistics for franchisees. If you look at the average pet store owner salary as a baseline according to Zip Recruiter, you can expect $75,000 per year would put you in the top 10% of this profession.

Before you invest in Wild Birds Unlimited, make sure you’re satisfied with the potential of the business. Based on my analysis this isn’t the most lucrative franchise opportunity out there. But if you’re passionate about serving this niche market, it could still be a lucrative business that allows you to spend your days doing what you love.

Not Sure What Franchise to Start? Take Our 7-Minute Franchise Business Quiz!

Thanks to the pandemic and a greater desire among families and individuals to bond with nature, Wild Birds Unlimited saw same store sales increase by more than 20% within the last year and is likely to continue on this trajectory. Bird watching is a safe hobby that appeals to more than 45 million people according to government reports. 

popular bird feeder

A popular bird feeder.

Things To Consider

Type of Franchise

There is only one kind of Wild Birds Unlimited outlet offered – a walk-in retail store setting. This does not have to be a stand-alone site and can be a part of a strip mall, indoor mall, or shopping center. 

Location

When opening a Wild Birds Unlimited, it’s important to take into account your current geographical location. Do you live on the West Coast? If so, it may not be a wise choice to open this franchise. This is because most of the Wild Birds Unlimited outlets reside on the East Coast.

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Although there is one location in Washington State, two in the South, and two in the Midwest, most of the units are located on the East Coast. It is likely that people in these states will visit your store because they recognize the name and have been to other Wild Birds Unlimited before. 

The franchise suggests opening a location at a busy retail shopping center that is anchored to big-box retailers and grocery stores. This way, you can attract your customers several times a week. The company finds that drive-by visibility is the most important way to attract customers. This drive-by visibility can easily be down at an open shopping mall. 

backyard birds

You might be surprised about the birds you see in your backyard.

Finance 

Thankfully, Wild Birds Unlimited has teamed up with third-party financial service companies such as VetFran Financing. These third-party services include the following: franchise fees, startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts, and payroll. 

If you’re concerned about the financial investment of opening a franchise, remember that this particular franchisor doesn’t expect you to shell out as much money as other franchisors. With a net worth of $300,000, you can open and operate a Wild Birds Unlimited outlet without breaking the bank. 

Advantages of Wild Birds Unlimited 

There are several advantages to opening a Wild Birds Unlimited. The first (and possibly the most important) benefit is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to open. It takes between $40,000 – $50,000 to open a store and you only need a net worth of $300,000; a far more affordable option when compared to other franchises. 

In addition to a reasonable financial investment, Wild Birds Unlimited  partners with local organizations to push their mission of bringing people and nature together. This creates community amongst customers and provides them with events and fundraisers to attend at the store in benefit of local non-profits. Other events include conservation efforts, science projects, information sessions, and bird-watching lectures. By engaging with your customers in this way, you are more likely to retain loyal customers and develop a relationship with each one.

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Over the past two decades, this franchise has received awards for its excellence and has even been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, Franchise Business Review, and USA Today. Awards and recognition prove that your franchisor is capable of big business. 

Franchise development for Wild Birds Unlimited is only 45-60 days. This swift development process is much shorter when compared to other big franchise giants. Many restaurants, for example, can take up to a year to be approved. Having a short time frame means that you can quickly open your store with little wait time. The time really depends on how many days you need to construct, build, or re-do your site. 

In addition to these advantages, the franchise also provides you with ample leadership training, information systems, a Franchise Support Center, business coaches, technical support, a franchise store owner community, and VetFran financing assistance. While many franchises do not have significant financial assistance, Wild Birds Unlimited makes sure that you have access to funds in case of an emergency. This financial aid is offered through VetFran, a third-party financing assistance firm. 

Main Advantages

  • Reasonable business operations cost
  • Local organization partnership
  • Award-winning business
  • Short approval time
  • Significant business support

Challenges of Wild Birds Unlimited 

Thankfully, there aren’t many challenges when it comes to opening a Wild Birds Unlimited outlet. The one downside, however, is quite significant: How likely are you to attract bird-feeding enthusiasts?

This hobby is very niche, resulting in a far smaller target audience than compared to, say, sports or mass-market pet stores. You will have to do adequate research before opening a site to ensure that you are in a location filled with wildlife lovers and bird-feeding enthusiasts that are underserved.

bird feeder

Humming bird at a bird feeder.

There’s also the challenge of retailers like Amazon taking a cut out of profitability. Customers can have bird seed, bird feeders, and other materials for less online. Many businesses discovered this risk first hand over the past year.

Main Challenges

  • Smaller target audience.
  • Price competition from retail tech companies like Amazon.

Is the Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Right for You?

Before you open a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise, ask yourself if this business is the right one for you. This small franchise is looking for business owners who are focused on building a business enterprise that combines their love of nature with their love of community.

If you aren’t passionate about wildlife or birds this probably isn’t the right opportunity for you. There are plenty of other ways to make money with franchising.

Their ideal store owner is someone full of energy, motivation, and natural communication skills. If you love nature, birds, and helping people out, Wild Birds Unlimited may be the right business opportunity for you. Click here to learn more about this outdoor retail opportunity at the official franchisee website. 

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