If there’s anyone who knows how much batteries and light bulbs can help during and after a natural disaster, it’s a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchisee.
Brandon Boozer was only seven years old and living in Texas when he witnessed his first tornado and the horrible aftermath it caused. Today, the Oklahoma City-based franchisee and his business are “smack-down in the middle of Tornado Alley,” and he has witnessed many natural disasters that have affected customers and others in his area over the years. His franchise played a major role when the 2013 Moore tornado hit the area.
As for franchisee Dennis Norris, he saw quite a bit of action before, during and after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Like Boozer, Norris, who owns four Batteries Plus Bulbs franchises in Texas, two in West Houston and two in the Bryan/College Station market, has participated in efforts to provide relief to those whose homes were affected by natural disasters.
“Any time a hurricane is inbound we always stock up because there’s a big run for batteries and flashlights,” Norris said. “We do our best to get the word out to the community that ‘Batteries Plus Bulbs is going to have what you need.’ Then during the hurricane, we try to stay open as many hours as we can and of course, be a resource after. By that time, when floods hit you’ve got an ongoing demand for batteries from people who don’t have power. You want to get ahead of the curve and make sure you have enough to meet the demand.”
A reliable brand in times of need
Such necessity means the brand can be a go-to when disaster strikes.
When asked about the benefits that fresh batteries and light bulbs can provide during a natural disaster, Boozer, who opened his first Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise on March 25, 2002, and now has six locations, referred to the 2013 Moore tornado. Moore is part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and that 2013 tornado devastated the area and included fatalities. Boozer lived in the Moore area when the tornado hit.
His franchise “went into high gear to do what we could to assist people that were looking through their things, and so we literally drove to neighborhoods and said ‘Does anyone here need a flashlight?’”
He pointed out that after a tornado, people often want to find sentimental items as soon as possible, and will even search for them late at night in the dark if they have to. And personal flashlights often get blown away, too.
“It’s at night, you’re tired, you’re emotionally destroyed and you’re worried that if you don’t find it now that someone will come and take things,” Boozer said. “You want to find as much as you can as quickly as you can before someone finds something and steals it.”
Handing out flashlights and headlamps in the aftermath of a tornado can also be good for the children who were affected.
“We forget about the kids,” Boozer said. “The kids go through a lot of trauma. You’re wondering what’s going on and Mom and Dad are freaking out.”
To that end, Boozer and his team were able to provide light-related support for children in the aftermath of the 2013 Moore tornado and provided them with batteries to light up their toys, as well as providing them with flashlights.
“That way they can help their parents and be part of the rescue effort and participate and feel like a part of what was going on,” Boozer said. “It also alleviates them from being a burden on their parents because they don’t have anything to do.”
Educating customers to prepare for the worst
In addition to the benefits that Batteries Plus Bulbs can provide to people who have just been affected by a natural disaster, Norris also noted that the brand helps customers prepare for what’s coming.
“Educating people is a big part of the preparation process,” Norris said. “They get caught off guard. They don’t really understand how their life is going to be affected. When their iPhone is their whole connection to the world and it dies, they often worry about their phone before they even worry about food. We can help make sure people are stocked up on batteries and flashlights, and we tell them how to get their computers and phones back up. Batteries Plus provides solutions to whatever people need.”
Norris was involved in efforts to provide supplies, including water, to areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
“As soon as we were able to get to the store, once we knew our employees were okay and their houses were okay, anybody that could go to work did just so we could be there to help other people,” he said. “There were problems trying to get pallets of batteries to our Houston stores but we could still get to the College Station location, which is 90 miles northwest of Houston. We redirected the supply to College Station and I loaded up a couple of trucks worth and went by the local grocery store and got as much water as we could carry.”
A supportive corporate team lends a hand to franchisees
Boozer said the Batteries Plus Bulbs corporate team was a major source of support after the 2013 Moore tornado.
“After the 2013 Moore tornado, the corporate team was extremely important to the relief effort,” Boozer said. “They sent us half a truckload full of products. Two days later it showed up. Corporate has been very supportive of hurricane and tornado-relief efforts, and it is much appreciated.”
Norris had a similar experience with Harvey, and said the corporate team made sure that he and his team received their stock before the hurricane hit.
“The system was great,” Norris said. “When the corporate team sees a disaster coming like that they will contact stores directly and ask ‘What do you need?’ They’ll make a pre-planned inventory list of what we need. They’ll ship that stuff in a van and contract a driver to make sure that shipment is going to be there as fast as it can get there.”
A durable brand in a strong industry
Boozer loves that Batteries Plus Bulbs is a recognizable brand, one in which customers can have confidence to help during natural disasters and solve their everyday problems. He noted that batteries and bulbs are not items purchased on impulse and that the industry is a strong one.
“Much like you don’t browse at a doctor’s office, people don’t browse at the store,” Boozer said. “People come to us because something is broken and they need an expert. It’s a pain point in their life and they need it solved. That’s one of the things I like about what we do as a franchise. I like solving problems.”
The startup costs for a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise range from $225,000 to $250,000. The franchise fee is $37,500. To learn more about franchising with Batteries Plus Bulbs, visit https://batteriesplusfranchise.com/.