Battery World GM sparks change

By Sarah Stowe | 24 Jul 2019 View comments

Shawn Kerr was one of McDonald’s youngest franchisees and then brought US brands Carls Jr and Cinnabon to Australia. Now he is firing up an Australian national retailer.

Kerr stepped into his new role as GM at Battery World in March 2019 and is focused on driving better business results across the group.

Change management is a focus area for me, as change is the one constant in life,” he says. “Managing complex change is inevitable, and it’s something we all need to understand better. I refer to this repeatedly with my leadership team when working on strategic planning and projects within the business. Change requires process and this process is a formula combining vision and skill with incentives, resources and action plans.

“A lack of vision results in misunderstanding, lacking necessary skills leads to apprehension, providing incentives reduces resistance, lacking the right resources deployment provides frustration while not having the right action plan delivers false starts.”

Battery World vision

Kerr’s vision for Battery World is clear: provide a structured process towards stability and growth, one which grows sales and profitability for both the franchisee and Battery World Australia.

“I want the network to focus on what has worked over the last 21 years,” he says. “The core of our business is our knowledge, service and products. I am always interested in growth, but we must not forget what has brought us to this point.

“I often see franchises trying to reinvent themselves but forget about what started their journey.”

It’s important to stay focused in the face of inevitable change. A spotlight on the basics of operations and customer service will deliver growth, he suggests.

“Do all the one per cent well, and the rest will take care of itself over time.”

Disciplined operations

Kerr has spent the last few months meeting franchisees to ensure their initial communications were face-to-face.

“I talk to franchisees daily,” he reveals. “They are focusing on our strengths of local community engagement, customer service, product knowledge and roadside support. I never want to underestimate the knowledge within the network. 

“I work hard to be in stores frequently, listening to the ideas of both the business owners and their staff and to hear what is happening. That next great idea is just around the corner, and I want to be able to brainstorm these and see where they go.

“I also want to deliver on a disciplined operational approach towards results which focuses on providing the framework of process and procedure to deliver growth. Store numbers will continue to provide system sales growth.”

Kerr says multi-unit opportunities are available in appropriate circumstances. Franchisees need to demonstrate clearly in a business plan their capabilities to grow and develop their business.

“Covering as much of the country as we can will create opportunities that expand on our bricks and mortar stores – trialling ‘the man/woman in a van’ concept for smaller regional communities that can grow into a physical retail presence over time. 

“We have mentoring programs within the network for franchisees and systems for encouraging long term employment: upskilling staff with certificates from TAFEs along with identifying those who might become the next franchisee with our ‘rising stars’ program.”

Franchise experience

Kerr credits McDonald’s as a significant influence on the operational disciplines he employs today. After McDonalds he moved to Coca-Cola Amatil working as international product development manager.

More recently Kerr worked in leadership start-up roles. He spent two years as chief operations officer at Zambero before joining the Bansal Group as general manager. He delivered rapid unit growth for the group’s US burger brand Carl’s Jr.then secured the Australian master franchise rights for Cinnabon.

Battery World’s growth

“It’s the gathering of experience: that really provides that business ‘ah ha’ moment that there is no short cut to success but discipline and adhering to good processes are the sure path,” he says. “I aim to bring all that experience to Battery World with a commitment to collaborating with franchisees, growing the network, and safeguarding and reinforcing Battery World’s unique selling proposition.

“We have a strong balance sheet and record low interest rates. We have an unbelievable talent pool of existing and prospective franchisees. Add to all of this the affordability of a Battery World franchise, our relative retail resilience thanks to changing technology and our continued need to be powered up and plugged in: there is so much room for growth.”