More women than ever are pulling up a chair to the franchising table. In fact, female franchise ownership grew by 83 percent between 2011 and 2017, according to a recent study by franchise consultant firm FranNet cited by Forbes.
Batteries Plus Bulbs, a specialty retail franchise built around finding effective solutions for customers, has attracted several successful women franchisees over the years—and allowed them to thrive as local entrepreneurs.
“Women tend to gravitate toward helping people. They get great satisfaction when they solve a problem for a customer,” said Olivia Chiu, Franchise Marketing Manager at Batteries Plus Bulbs. “They have great success with nurturing a team, and they take pride in creating a family environment within their stores and among their employees."
Glenda Stewart is the sole owner of the only Batteries Plus Bulbs store in Casa Grande, Arizona. Since 2013, she’s been the face of her small business, networking and marketing her store to meet the entire surrounding area’s needs.
Stewart’s store isn’t just owned by a woman. In Jessica Sandal, she found a female manager, too. Though both women began with limited knowledge of batteries and other electronic retail products, they worked quickly to play catch-up and continue to dedicate themselves to learning more every day.
Chiu said that Batteries Plus Bulbs has extensive training for owners to get them comfortable with the technology side of the business. “It's not an intimidating as someone on the outside would think,” she said. “When you approach this business as more about solving a problem, it takes any uncertainty out of it."
Stewart recalled meeting a past customer who was clearly impressed with Sandal’s learned skill set. “He said, ‘[Sandal] must have been selling batteries for a long time.’ I said, no, just four years. He said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding, she’s so knowledgeable!’ That made me feel good,” said Stewart. Speaking with Stewart, it’s clear she has created the kind of encouraging environment Chiu noted women are especially apt to cultivate.
Stewart said that she has encountered misconceptions about gender roles her whole life. Growing up, she said, boys were always taught how to take care of cars, but most girls were not. “My dad actually did teach me to change a tire, but as far as batteries, I was taught to just take it to the mechanic,” she said. “But if you're willing to learn something new, you can do anything.”
Norma Riley co-owns four Batteries Plus Bulbs locations in California with her husband, Mike.
Chiu said that in husband and wife business teams, there is often one partner who is more analytical and one partner who is more customer service oriented. While these traits are genderless, the yin and yang work to co-franchisees’ advantage. “With a husband-wife business partnership, it's typically easy to split the responsibilities,” she said. “Each person takes what they're good at, and since they already have a good working relationship at home, they know their strengths and what works best."
Riley was attracted to Batteries Plus Bulbs in part because of her experience in technology. At the time, she was working as an engineer in Silicon Valley. And as a woman, she was in the minority there.
Riley believes that more girls should be encouraged to enter the fields of science, math and technology. “The other day, I was looking for toys for my daughter, and all the girls’ toys were about cleaning and makeup, while the boys’ toys were model cars and science kits,” said Riley, “Women can wear makeup and cook, because they can do anything they want—but that’s also why we need to encourage society to stretch further.”
From Silicon Valley to Batteries Plus Bulbs, Riley has grown accustomed to shirking gender norms. “Anytime you’re in a nontraditional role, you’re going to get pushback,” said Riley. “Customers have said, ‘Can I speak to someone who knows more?’ It happens. Successful people work their way through that. Early in my career, that was a challenge. But now, I don’t even think about it. Now, I say, ‘I am the one you want to talk to.’”
Like Stewart, Riley has taken pride in fostering personal growth within her store’s walls. In her case, Riley has nurtured the next generation of her family business by giving their son a larger operational role. “He’s growing, and his skills are growing, so we want to give him that opportunity,” said Riley. “He’s worked very hard to help us grow, so he should reap the benefits.”
Riley encouraged other women to consider franchising to open up a broader world of opportunity for themselves. “You get to determine what you’re capable of and what you’re interested in,” she said. “You don’t get put in a box. I think we’ve been taught, especially if you’re older, that women are less qualified than men to be entrepreneurs. But go back through history and see how many businesses were started by women who wanted to be in control of their own destinies. If someone else won’t give you the chance, take the chance on yourself.”
Women franchisees are making their mark in the industry, all while enjoying the personal and professional benefits that franchising offers. Women are often strong communicators, collaborative managers and skilled networkers. The strong support system, low risk and stable flexibility that Batteries Plus Bulbs offers make it an attractive opportunity for many women looking to own their first—or tenth—business.
“Batteries Plus Bulbs is not necessarily the first business most women would think of going into,” said Riley, “But I feel like women do very well at it. Without these women, Batteries Plus Bulbs would not be as successful.”
To continue growing its national footprint, Batteries Plus Bulbs is seeking viable franchise candidates across the country. The investment range for a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise is $190,150 to $367,350, including a $37,500 single-store franchise fee.
Learn more about owning a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise today.