Batteries Plus Bulbs, which operates in the $32 billion U.S. battery industry and the $22 billion U.S. light bulb industry, plans to open 33 more franchise locations and 14 corporate locations this year, adding some 165 new jobs in local communities, the company said on Tuesday. The company has identified key markets in parts of the mid-Atlantic, New England and southern California, according to a press release.
The Hartland, WI-based retailer says it's also the country's top phone repair franchise, in number of retail locations nationwide, serving that $3.9 billion industry, noting that its phone repair sales grew 42% last year. The company's nationwide network of more than 700 stores performed some 650 different types of phone repairs last year; to-date the company's "We Fix It" program has done close to 2 million repairs on phones.
Last year, the company opened 26 new stores, 23 of them franchise-owned, plus three corporate locations. Overall in the past three years, Batteries Plus Bulbs grew its footprint 12%, with nearly half (48%) of franchisees operating more than one store. Meanwhile, the company's corporate ranks grew 14% in 2017, bringing its total to 696 employees.
Customer experience is the call to retailers these days, and companies are spiffing up their stores and beefing up their technology to lure shoppers. Batteries Plus Bulbs is the epitome of a retailer bucking the new rules — stores are stacked like warehouses with their plethora of — yes — batteries and bulbs. Store staff are friendly and skilled, able to turn around affordable phone repairs backed with guarantees often within an hour, thanks to their training and well-stocked components.
It's simple, really. Batteries and bulbs burn out, and phones break, notes CEO Russ Reynolds, and the retailer is there to ensure its customers leave with those basic problems solved quickly.
"U.S. households have approximately 3.2 billion devices requiring batteries and 7 billion light bulb sockets requiring light bulbs," he said in a statement. "At some point, these batteries and light bulbs will need to be replaced, and many of those devices repaired. We specialize in providing solutions to people's problems, especially in a dynamic and evolving retail environment where immediacy and convenience are in high demand."
In an era when retailers are pursuing tech-fueled wow factors in their attempts to better serve customers, that's the kind of proposition that could go far, especially at a time when Amazon has few stores, according to Forrester retail analyst Brendan Witcher.
"Retailers get too distracted and they chase the next shiny object, like virtual reality," he told Retail Dive in an interview. "It's not time to work on robots when your associates don't know about the products you're carrying. Retailers have to remember at the core they still have to be good retailers. They fail to understand that consumers are not that complex — they have basic needs. They don't care about the products you carry — a shirt, a coffeemaker."
Or batteries and bulbs.