Battery World Australia has a clear expansion strategy, focussing on recruitment in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania (Launceston) where the company is actively targeting auto electricians who are perfectly suited as franchisees. As reported by AAEN, Greg Leslie is an ‘auto elect’ pin up boy: the most successful store in the network for a record breaking 12 years and Franchisee of the Year four years in a row. He shares his transition story.
Why do you think ‘auto elects’ make great franchisees?
My whole life before BWA was auto electrical. I started my apprenticeship in 1985; in those days we did the full four years. In 1992, I started my own business - just me and a ute. I built that to be the largest single site auto electrical business in Australia at the time. Auto elects make great franchisees because they join the network with a healthy amount of knowledge. (Side note: you will however still learn more about batteries than you ever thought you didn’t know!) Our knowledge of systems continually comes into play not just with auto and marine batteries. I see the future online proofing married to the expansion of services to remote power solutions such as dual battery fitments and solar.
What made you join Battery World?
Pure luck. I was neck deep in running the auto electrical business. We had 24 tradesmen plus support staff. I was approached by the parent company Century Yuasa and at first, I wasn’t convinced but quickly saw the opportunity in it and we took the leap: best decision I ever made. Of course, the network now has 111 stores more than I ever imagined it would grow to.
Advice to someone wanting to move off the tools and buy a franchise?
Having done both, building a business on my own and owning a franchise, I can categorically state the franchisee is infinitely more attractive. There is so much support in being part of a network. As an auto elect you could spend years training an apprentice only to have them leave to join the FIFO world two days after receiving their certificate. Owning a franchise gives you a better quality of life. Often as an auto elect, I feared leaving the shop even to cross the road for a hamburger in case things went pear-shaped. In 13 years on the job I had eight weeks of holidays, even spending that on the phone sorting out problems. Now I can take holidays- even a day off midweek to play golf – in this business the staff have an ‘operations manual’, that I didn’t have to write, that they can fall back on.
Support? How much do you get in making the transition?
The franchisee gets extensive training both in the classroom and in store. There are dozens of training modules for you and potential staff: everything is covered off from product knowledge and service to HR, and OWHS. You are assigned a mentor to guide you through the early days along with a franchise development manager who is assigned to each region to assist in improving every facet of your business. National, regional and local marketing is coordinated by the National Marketing Brand Team: there is even our own PR company to respond to opportunities that would otherwise pass by. You can concentrate of running your business. You are not struggling on your own – you now have the support, understanding and friendship of a 100+ network of business owners in the exact same business as you.
Growth? – Why is BW a good proposition?
The hardest thing about this model is also the best; this industry is only getting bigger. As old markets dry up, new ones emerge. Technology continues to evolve – smaller gadget smaller batteries – we want to be plugged in 24/7 – even when camping we want a fridge and to play our music or charge our phone. These things need batteries, batteries and ore batteries. It’s sometimes daunting to keep up but exciting as well. It’s not a business to buy and forget: it needs to be worked and you need to capitalise and maximise all new opportunities, but the rewards are worth the effort.
The Future? How future proofed is the business?
The business future proof’s itself by adding services: the more we can add to the sale, the more resilient we become against competitors both online and in the real world. We are Batteryologists - providing advice: you can’t get that online. Make it your job to be the specialist, deliver it with exceptional customer service and the results will look after themselves. We tell customers, buy once right.
Can your success be emulated?
Ask my kids, there nothing special about me! Anyone can do this; follow the model to the ‘n’th degree and you will have success beyond what you thought possible. I have never had a sales target for the team here, sales are the result of the actions we take in every exposure we have with the customer. Whether it’s sale or a warranty return the approach is the same- solve the customer’s problem. The beauty is you are drawing on experience, knowledge and the strengths you already have as an auto elect.
When I am not at Battery World you will find me...
We have a beach house north of Townsville that we try to get to as much as possible.
My death row last meal would be...
A bucket of KFC, no need for the post-bucket guilt.
Away from work I am…
A father of triplets, in fact a father of five and my most favourite day of the year is Christmas Day. We are extremely fortunate that Christmas for us is full of only fabulous memories. Our eldest daughter starts the celebration countdown at the beginning of November.