Batteries Plus Bulbs explores new services to offer
Hartland-based company wants to grow 8-10% in 2015, add 40 stores

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

July 10, 2015

HARTLAND — The name of the company may only specify it sells batteries and light bulbs, but CEO Russ Reynolds is continually looking for ways to grow Batteries Plus Bulbs. “We look at ways to innovate and where we have permission to play,” Reynolds said, explaining that last year the Hartland-based company added battery replacement and repairs for smartphones and tablets to its list of services and products.

Going forward, Batteries Plus Bulbs is exploring adding key-cutting services and headphone replacement components.

Some Batteries Plus Bulbs locations are already doing a test run of the key-cutting service. Reynolds said often Batteries Plus Bulbs retail stores are located in markets where the only option for car key replacement is the dealership, but that tends to be expensive and not very quick. He felt there was a strong value proposition built around filling an immediate need for consumers regarding replacing batteries in key fobs, which the company has already been doing, or cutting a new key.

Russ Reynolds  
Submitted photo

Also, Reynolds said he observed that with his own teenagers, buying replacement parts for their headphones can be quite expensive. Reynolds said people are not buying headphones for $30 as often, and are opting for the products around $200 to $500 that are wireless. He said with many components that can break or even be chewed on by the family dog, there was an opportunity for Batteries Plus Bulbs to offer replacement parts and speakers at a fraction of the cost.

At Batteries Plus Bulbs, customers can get their problems resolved quickly, versus working with an online company like Amazon, Reynolds said.

Just this week, Batteries Plus Bulbs launched an updated website that is better connected to the 275 franchise owner groups, but also respects their territories.

“We are thrilled that it’s out and it has the bells and whistles that you’d expect,” Reynolds said.


Burgeoning growth

In 2014, Batteries Plus Bulbs opened 42 new store locations nationwide and had a systemwide sales increase of 8.6 percent — including a 74 percent increase in overall light bulb sales. In total, Batteries Plus Bulbs has more than 650 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and during the past five years, Batteries Plus Bulbs has had a 12 percent growth rate and 97 percent franchise continuity.

By the end of 2015, Reynolds said, the company hopes to open 40 more stores. Also, he said the intent is always to maintain double-digit growth, but that has gotten tougher. For 2015, Batteries Plus Bulbs is shooting for a growth rate of 8 to 10 percent for a total of $525 million in system sales.

Reynolds credits Batteries Plus Bulbs’ significant growth to its connection with two large and stable industries.

“I think it’s a combination of a few factors,” Reynolds said. “We have been fortunate to have strong industry dynamics.”

At the end of June, Batteries Plus Bulbs was named one of the best franchises to buy in the United States. Forbes ranked the company No. 8 in its mid-range investment category, where franchise investments range from $150,001 to $500,000.

While Reynolds said that recognition is appreciated, it’s the recognition the company has received for its “Ownership with Honor” program that offers qualified U.S. military veterans a franchise opportunity and more than $210,000 in financial support that Reynolds is most proud of.

“That is a cause for us; we think that former military personnel make great employees,” Reynolds said.
 

Reynolds’ first job: Working in Target’s lawn and garden center

The summer that Russ Reynolds had his first job working for Target’s lawn and garden center, he went through many company - provided shirts — and learned he didn’t want to work in the center again when he was 16.

Reynolds, Batteries Plus Bulbs CEO, said he got his first job at age 15 at the first Target store, T1, in Minnesota. There he was the guy who moved the bags of peat moss and manure around and restacked them. Working in the lawn and garden center was the only position open to 15-year-olds, he said.

After working there that summer, he said he learned he didn’t want to repeat the experience the following summer, but he liked working for Target. He stayed with the company through high school and college for a total of 10 years.

During that summer, Reynolds said, he also learned that when you get a chance to join a great organization there will be opportunities to travel and move within the company.

Finally, he learned he enjoyed assisted sales retailing and engaging with the customers.

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