Batteries Plus CEO Tells Best Ways to Change
Russ Reynolds, CEO of Batteries Plus, says he started the massive transformation at his company from a position of strength. The brand is well into executing its biggest change to date, adding a new line of products, light bulbs, to its stores, and we asked him to elaborate on the management tactics he employed to encourage franchisees to come along for the ride. "It's always easier to manage a change process when things are going well than in a desperate situation," he told Franchise Times. "Our system has grown an average of 17 to 18 percent each year for the last five or six years, so it wasn't one of those instances where we had to add something."
He and his management team spent two or three years looking at industries that would align with the Batteries Plus brand. "Our business is all about making complex things simple, and fixing people's problems," said Reynolds. After investigating various "hunting grounds," they decided on light bulbs. "Light bulbs were ready for significant change, not unlike batteries 20 years ago," he said. "You may be aware that incandescent bulbs are going to be extinct in a couple of years. There's this whole new technology, like halogen bulbs, that have tremendous energy savings but you need to explain it. There are lots of different thinsg to take the customer through to get the right light bulb."
Industry selection was key, Reynolds said, because it had to be similar to batteries. "Everybody carries a few batteries as you well know. But we've tried to stake our claim as the place to go for every and any type of battery," he said. "We wanted to look in an area where we believe our customers will give us permission to play. That's an important element to how you add things. If we had tried to become batteries and bathrobes instead of batteries and bulbs, there wouldn't be the strong correlation between the two lines."
The company started the process by doing extensive testing in its company-owned stores. "We are firm believers in eating our own cooking," he said. Franchisees would visit the stores, see how the new items fit into the planagrams, and examine the numbers. "The results were such that we collectively made a decision with our franchisees, to implement light bulbs in all our existing stores on a voluntary basis, and well over 90 percent of our franchisees signed up for it," he said. Such results are worth noting by anyone interesting in changing their brand.