These certifications raise the credibility of our business and help us maintain our position as a nationwide industry leader. Last year, we became the very first company in Samsung’s global Independent Service Provider program, and we made it very clear in announcing that exciting partnership that our expansive WISE certification was the #1 reason Samsung initially approached us for the partnership.
WISE: As a veteran leader in retail of nationally recognized franchise organizations, what secret sauce can you share that inspires your independent store owners across the country?
Scott: Coming off a pandemic year when the idea of being an “essential” business became a buzzword, the acronym “S.A.L.E.” – Small, Assortment, Local, Essential – became a major rallying point for us, but it has always been our business. Our stores have always been small footprints providing expert, personal service. They have always carried a wide assortment of products. They have always been trusted local businesses in their communities, and they have always been essential in terms of delivering what our customers need during any challenges, whether it be a pandemic or a serious weather event or even just a dead car battery the day before an important appointment.
No matter what’s going on in the world, we provide products and services our retail and commercial customers need to power their lives, which makes us a very resilient and essential business. We’re definitely seeing this translated into interest in us as a franchisor. Our franchise opportunity compares to the best in any industry, not only because of the resilience of our business, but because of our comprehensive support for owners through the discovery process and starting on Day 1 when they open their store. We’ve signed 96 new stores since August 2020 on these promises, and we’re very excited to have so much interest and confidence in our business and our brand after a year that was so challenging for so many businesses.
WISE: It is admirable when any brand can maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. What challenges do you face at Batteries Plus, particularly with the high volume of products carried in each retail location?
Scott: Our extensive range of product categories is a major differentiator for us, and is a cornerstone of our business. We call our store employees “Trusted Advisors” because the expectation is that they are experts who can provide expert service and advice when customers have a question or a problem that needs solving. Of course, getting to this level of trusted expertise requires extensive training for our retail associates.
We offer a Successful Start-up for Trusted Advisor Program that builds their skills, capabilities and confidence over time. Through this program, our store staff take practical training about our products, services, systems, selling, and customer service approach, including focused learning about batteries in general and specific products like Auto batteries, lighting, key fobs, and of course, device repair. Each requirement provides knowledge, and then assigns in-store activities to help employees practice with support from their managers and other Trusted Advisors. They can continue their learning with hundreds of online courses and mini degrees.
From there, our Trusted Advisors are ready to become certified in device repair through WISE, and in our brand-new in-house certification for key fobs, both of which build critical knowledge and credibility in two absolutely critical parts of our business.
Product knowledge is just half of the equation. Our Trusted Advisors are also committed to delivering a great customer experience. For services like Buy Online, Pick Up in Store, speed is critical, with nearly 100% of all ecommerce orders picked up within 5 hours. We also promise same-day turnaround times for phone repair – most within an hour – because we know people can’t be without their phones. So in addition to being trained on our products, our Trusted Advisors’ commitment to customer service excellence and speed is critical to ensuring we’re delivering to our customers in every interaction.
WISE: We may reflect on the global pandemic for many years to come, as we continue to apply lessons learned in how we all re-imagine the ‘new normal.’ What lessons did the Batteries Plus team learn and how do you see it changing your business long-term?
Scott: One of the great things about our business is that we have always been essential. But through the pandemic, we were reminded about what that really means. In a more typical year, powering our customers’ lives is a responsibility we take seriously. But in a pandemic year, when so many businesses were locked down and people were really struggling to find service and support, our responsibility for powering everything from wheelchairs to thermometers to hearing aids to carts and cleaning machines in hospitals, and even to laptops for home schooling, really brought new meaning to the word “essential.” We remain extraordinarily proud of the products and support we were able to provide to first responders, the healthcare industry, and others during such an unprecedented time.
We also quickly rose to the “new normal” in customer service expectations. We rolled out a comprehensive contactless curbside pick-up process to all of our 700+ stores within 48 hours of the lockdowns, and it’s a service we’ll continue to provide because we understand the importance of meeting our customers where they are and where they’re comfortable.
Through the pandemic and as the global supply chain continues to be very challenged, we’ve used our national financial strength to secure inventories of supply-challenged categories to ensure consistent service to our customer base. Monitoring the new normal and being agile to dynamic market conditions and customer expectations is the new normal for us.
WISE: You have made a commitment to consumers, not just with your own brand promise, but through industry certifications that are being implemented nationwide across your stores. Why is this important to your organization’s culture and what impact will it have on your customer experience?
Scott: Our customers’ trust and confidence in us is our top priority. Enterprise-wide WISE certification lets our customers know that their personal devices are being repaired by highly capable, certified technicians that adhere to national standards.
More broadly, these certifications raise the credibility of our business and help us maintain our position as a nationwide industry leader. Last year, we became the very first company in Samsung’s global Independent Service Provider program, and we made it very clear in announcing that exciting partnership that our expansive WISE certification was the #1 reason Samsung initially approached us for the partnership.
Leading the way on WISE certifications brings us trust and credibility with customers, confidence for our repair technicians, and credibility for partnerships with some of the biggest names in the industry.
WISE: What feedback have you received from your owned and operated store management as well as franchise owners about having access to the industry recognized WISE Certification?
Scott: Our store associates and franchise owners have truly embraced WISE certifications because they know it’s a major differentiator for our stores’ repair services, not to mention a confidence builder for our store associates. With more than 2100 certified technicians and nearly 620 WISE ASP stores, Batteries Plus is proud to have nearly full national coverage of WISE certifications in our system, and we continue to focus on getting new store associates certified. Our franchise owners routinely share with us our customers’ comments highlighting their confidence in our WISE certified Trusted Advisors, and we see these positive customer reviews all the time.
Our owners and Trusted Advisors also see the direct link between WISE certification and our industry-leading partnerships with companies like Samsung. They recognize that WISE certification is foundational to additional game-changing strategic partnerships with insurance providers, OEMs, and other partners in the future, which is very exciting for our entire business and brand.
WISE: What advice would you offer other retailers, whether in device repair or other retailer categories about adapting a new retail environment?
Scott: Retail is constantly evolving, and at an ever increasing speed. Retail leaders need to consistently adapt and innovate to be at the leading edge of change while maintaining internal momentum.
This year, “Project Volt” has been a strategic project where we refreshed our stores – nearly 600 and counting! – with new branding and signage, new technology, and new store layouts, all making for a better in-store experience for our customers. It was an investment for us and for our franchise owners, but it was a great way to capitalize on the confidence in our brand and our momentum, and it’s garnered very, very positive feedback from our store staff and customers. It’s a great example of how, even during times when we’re hyper focused on upping our ecommerce capabilities in light of online shopping trends, we’re not missing out on the dynamic opportunities to innovate in our physical stores, too.
WISE: As we face workforce shortages across the country, any timely words of wisdom for attracting and maintaining staff across your franchise organization?
Scott: While the headlines have emphasized staffing shortages and workers’ changing preferences, there is also a sense that the fundamentals of attracting great candidates and retaining talented employees remain the same. At Batteries Plus, we continue to emphasize the opportunity for a career path well beyond our entry level positions, and we believe in focusing as much attention on retaining longer-term employees as attracting new hires. In 2020, 48% of our store managers had been promoted from within, instead of being outside hires. This year, that number is 63%. Certainly there are staffing trends at play, but we have also truly emphasized programs that help our Trusted Advisors advance into management. We also make sure our incentives are aligned with attainable performance goals so that all of our store employees have opportunities for meaningful bonuses and incentives. We think Batteries Plus is a great business and a great team to work with!
Batteries Plus, founded in 1988, is the nation’s only battery, light bulb and smartphone/tablet repair service franchise. The company offers a comprehensive selection of nearly 60,000 batteries, light bulbs, and related products and services to meet the growing demands of retail and business consumers at the national and local levels. With a nationwide network of stores, which include We Fix It® Repair Centers in each location, Batteries Plus has become the single-source supplier for all battery, light bulb, and smartphone repair needs.