Product quality is non-negotiable for Batteries Plus franchisees and their customers. That dedication to excellence is physically manifested in the brand’s 15,000-square-foot lab in Hartland, Wisconsin, where scientists test, bake and freeze batteries to recreate real-world climatic environments.
“Starting 10 to 12 years ago, we’ve become a foundational part of the company,” said Jason Fladhammer, director of quality assurance at Batteries Plus. Jason is no stranger to complexity. He earned a degree in molecular cellular biology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry focusing on biochemistry for more than a decade.
Between 2010 and 2013, the scale of the quality assurance grew from a local, two-person team to a robust, international department. In the Hartland lab, there are four quality engineers who are subdivided into different categories based on the type of product. For instance, one group focuses exclusively on cell phone batteries.
The company rigorously upholds every aspect of quality assurance and ensures the stores’ inventory only reflects world-class products.
A Global Approach to Quality Assurance
In his role at Batteries Plus, Jason oversees the quality assurance teams, product testing protocols and manages relationships with vendors. Batteries Plus works with both domestic and international vendors, including companies in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea, to source products.
“Depending on product needs, we work with anywhere between 20 and 30 international vendors,” said Heather Peterson, senior quality assurance engineer at Batteries Plus. She is one of the individuals who works with Jason to make sure Batteries Plus franchisees are stocking their shelves only with products that meet the brand’s rigorous standards. She has worked on battery testing for multiple brands over the course of 15 years.
Given the scope of international partnerships, the Batteries Plus domestic QA team built a sister facility in Shenzhen, China, where upwards of 25 individuals help with quality engineering, supply chain, sourcing and human resources services closer to the areas where the batteries are produced.
Achieving Industry Standards for Excellence
The process of getting the right batteries on the shelves of Batteries Plus franchise owners’ stores has been highly streamlined.
- The product and category management team identifies which products would be best suited within a Batteries Plus store
- The Batteries Plus sourcing department identifies manufacturers to make the batteries
- The quality assurance team goes on-site to manufacturing facilities to perform full audits, which includes looking at:
- Research and development capabilities
- Organizational charts
- In-process controls
- Document retention
- Supplier management
“We’re really looking at the whole nine yards of how that manufacturer operates,” Jason added. “Depending on the score resulting from the audit, we either move forward with them or let them know that they’re not at the level of quality we need to confidently stock our stores with their products.”
From that point, the quality assurance team purchases samples of products to test at the facility in China or Hartland. Testing takes place according to industry standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for batteries and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association for mobile devices.
“Whether it’s our batteries, lighting or smartphone and tablet components, we’re always looking at our three pillars – safety, performance and reliability,” said Jason.
Rigorous QA Processes that Franchisees Can Depend On
In addition to meeting industry standards, the quality assurance team also runs environmental tests on products in their labs to see how different circumstances will impact performance. For example, they’ll use ovens to replicate elevated temperatures like those experienced at the height of summer in Arizona. They will also approximate frigid, wintry conditions using freezers. Or, the team will see how batteries will perform in enclosed environments with limited airflow.
The goal is to give customers access to products that are at the leading edge of performance, providing several years of reliable use. This is particularly important for items like car, medical device or wheelchair batteries, which have a significant impact on people’s quality of life.
Once the products are on store shelves, the Batteries Plus team continues to keep tabs on quality through a centralized database called the Customer Concern report.
“If a customer comes in, buys a battery, takes it home and it starts overheating, they can take it back to the store where the owner can input their store information, product description and an explanation of the issue,” Jason explained. “That gets submitted to the quality assurance department and we are able to follow up with the franchisee, track issues and identify any trends.”
Should a trend be identified, the QA team can then work directly with the manufacturer to isolate the issue and get it resolved.
Get Started with a World-Class Retail Franchise
With over 200 people available at the Batteries Plus headquarters and another 70 people in the company’s warehouse, franchisees can depend on a centralized support system dedicated to their success.