In the three decades since Batteries Plus Bulbs was founded, the company has consistently and carefully expanded its footprint, eventually franchising and establishing more than 725 stores in markets across the United States.
By establishing a lasting foothold in each market it has entered and weathering 30 years of changing economic climates, Batteries Plus Bulbs has proven itself one of the most reliable concepts in franchising, remaining profitable even as online retailers have dramatically reshaped the landscape of the industry.
“Our brand has largely been unaffected by the ‘Amazon Effect’ because a high percentage of our sales come from items that can’t be shipped,” said company CEO Russ Reynolds. “We focus on the customers that come into our stores with a device that doesn’t work. By the time they leave, their device is back up and running. We consider our team members and franchise owners to be problem solvers. You just don’t get that level of expertise or immediacy with online-only retailers, and that’s what has fueled our growth over the past 30 years.”
Now, the retail franchise has its sights set on Connecticut for the next stage of its development strategy.
“We see a lot of opportunity in Connecticut,” said John Twist, Batteries Plus Bulbs’ vice president of franchise development. “It’s in many ways the perfect market for us.”
Among the reasons the franchise is eager to develop Connecticut, Twist says, is the state’s geographic and demographic layout, which offers a number of sufficiently populated towns and villages that do not border a major metropolitan area.
“We look for areas where we can find a number of distinct markets that do not overlap,” Twist said. “That allows each of our stores to really establish themselves in their respective markets. They become the authority in their town and a fixture of the community.”
Connecticut also has a good mix of residential neighborhoods and businesses, both of which Twist says are key client bases.
“Our model is driven primarily by residential populations, since most of our clients are individual people” he said. “But local businesses have increasingly become a key component of our operations, because we now also serve as a wholesale distributor for local businesses.”
It’s not just businesses that take advantage of Batteries Plus Bulbs’ wholesale services. Twist says schools, fire stations, manufacturing centers and even municipalities are clients in some markets.
Demographically, Twist says Connecticut hits the sweet spot in terms of both age and income level.
“We support a broad range of income levels, but we are particularly well suited for middle-income areas,” he said. “Same with average age. Kids don’t have ATVs and boats, and seniors aren’t using their cell phones as much, so we do best with families and middle-aged adults. Connecticut is right in line with both of those targets.”
As Batteries Plus Bulbs begins its development push in Connecticut, Twist says he has little doubt the franchise will find qualified new store owners.
“We don’t really have a typical franchisee,” Twist said. “Ideally, we’re looking for some experience in sales or business, since our owners work with customers in a retail environment. But you don’t need any special knowledge of phones or batteries; our operational model takes care of all that. More than anything, we’re looking for passionate entrepreneurs who are eager to be directly involved in the business. That doesn’t mean they have to be there 24/7, but our stores do best when the owner is there to establish a culture and work directly with the community.”
Connecticut is already home to two Batteries Plus Bulbs locations, one in Manchester and the other in Orange, and a new franchisee in Newington is preparing to open the state’s third store within the month. Still, Twist says the state has a wealth of markets available to support new stores without overlapping markets.
“We’ve got our sights on a number of towns throughout Connecticut, including Avon, Windsor, New Britain, Meriden, Waterbury, New London, Hartford, East Haven, Norwalk, Trumble and Danbury” Twist said. “Each of those towns, among others, promise to be strong markets for new Batteries Plus Bulbs locations.”
John Cowern, the franchisee in Orange, says that array of available markets allowed him to find the perfect location for his store.
“Originally, I wanted to open a store in North Haven, but there was already another franchisee in the next town over,” Cowern said. “We looked around at a lot of different locations, and we landed on Orange because it is right on the main drag next to many big box stores. There is a Best Buy, a Home Depot and a ton of others close by, which makes Orange a destination for a lot of people in the surrounding area.”
Twist says Batteries Plus Bulbs is even offering some unique financial incentives to attract the best candidates in Connecticut.
“It’s no secret that rent and taxes in Connecticut make it a little more expensive to run a business in the state, so we’re offering some financial assistance to offset those costs and make Batteries Plus Bulbs the most attractive investment opportunity,” Twist said.
Ultimately, Twist says the real value of Batteries Plus Bulbs for owners is the same in Connecticut as it is in any other state: a proven business model with an impressive track record of success.
“Once people look into the business, they see how we’ve grown over 30 years, they see how it’s a need-based business that is not subject to fads or cultural shifts, and they see how successful our existing stores have been,” he said. “This is a rock-solid business model, and we’re excited to continue introducing it to new markets across the U.S.”