From Beer to Batteries and Bulbs
Bernie was working as a general manager for a beer distributor in 2014. Yet, she increasingly felt like it wasn’t the right place for her. This led her to seriously begin considering and researching what it would be like to become her own boss.
Meanwhile, her friends who owned Batteries Plus franchises in St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids were looking to sell their stores; their parents were growing older and the owners anticipated needing to be more involved with their parent’s personal care in the near future.
“They wanted someone who they knew their team would enjoy, that they can trust and keep them happy,” said Bernie.
Bernie and her husband discussed the opportunity with the franchisees for several months before deciding to purchase the business.
“There were many days we sat around the kitchen table for hours vetting numbers, weighing pros and cons and, most importantly, considering the idea of becoming a franchisee,” she said.
In addition to thinking about what the business would bring them personally, they researched Batteries Plus and the franchise model. It was at that point Bernie and her husband decided to take ownership of the two units.
Learning to Serve Within a New Industry
Bernie was initially nervous about transitioning from the beverage sector into a completely new industry.
However, she quickly learned that with the support of an incredible staff and corporate team, you can be successful within any industry.
As a first-time franchisee, Bernie got training and guidance that she never would have received if she started her own business from the ground up. She’s been able to take advantage of ongoing support for:
- Product and vendor quality assurance
- Category and product management
- Supply chain management and warehousing
- Commercial sales
- IT and customer service support systems
She appreciates the fact that this support continues for the life of the business and the mutual respect between franchisee and franchisor – working together as a united team.
Continuing Excellent Service Under New Ownership
When Bernie bought her locations, she knew that both had already become integral within the community. The St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids stores had been open for 25 years and six years, respectively. She wanted to live up to the standard of excellence her friends had created for their customers.
“It’s all about working with your customers, helping them as soon as they walk in the door and fulfilling their needs,” said Bernie.
Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, Bernie and her team recognized the need to stay open and provide for their customers. Many community members were focused on shopping locally and within smaller stores to keep their potential exposure as low as possible.
“It’s presented us a wonderful position in our community, demonstrating how much a safe retail environment, our services and products mean for our customers,” explained Bernie.
Making Sure Your Team has the Tools They Need for Success
Between both of Bernie’s locations, she has 16 total employees, and she works hard every day to empower them through strong, positive leadership. She makes sure to give them the tools they need to serve their customers with the excellent service for which Batteries Plus is known. Most importantly, she always keeps lines of communication open and ensures her team members feel heard.
“I’m a big questions person – I ask them questions to understand,” said Bernie. “I’m able to be more empathetic and attentive so they get the support they need to make their own decisions.”
And Bernie understands that many members of her team have been with Batteries Plus much longer than she has and has adapted her own leadership style to model what has helped them achieve success.
“When my friends were looking to sell their locations, they held on for a long time because they wanted to find the right new owner that would retain their current employees because they’re the ones who have built this longevity and positive culture,” explained Bernie. “They didn’t want someone to come in and start throwing out parts of the culture they built that has been so successful within the community.”
Bernie’s hard work as a leader and franchisee has proven to be worth the effort, having been on the receiving end of multiple awards. Alongside her team, she has helped build positive name recognition for Batteries Plus within her community and seeks to continue to be there for years to come.
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