Queensland franchisee leading the Battery World charge

By Sarah Stowe | 11 Mar 2016 View comments

and customer-focus have paid off for Battery World franchisee Greg LeslieIf Townsville franchisee Greg Leslie thought seven was his lucky number, he’s quickly having a rethink. 

Leslie has just chalked up eight consecutive years as the most successful store in the national network of 89 Battery World outlets.

Leslie is no slouch when it comes to breaking Battery World records but eight in a row has to be something of a national franchising feat.

More than 200 Battery World franchisees, management and suppliers attended the national conference in Hobart in February where Leslie was lauded. Not only did he scoop the pool with record-breaking five awards, he also broke the all-time sales record and took home the granddaddy of them all, Franchisee of the Year.

The company’s general manager Rowan Hodge has worked with some of the country’s biggest franchise groups.

“People can try and explain away Greg’s success but what it comes down to is he takes enormous responsibility for his business and keeping customers happy,” Hodge says.

“It’s no secret Townsville’s economy has had its trials but for Greg to stand up and be Franchisee of the Year is truly something to behold. He’s a team player who shares his abilities, secrets and work ethic with the network. If a store anywhere is under pressure he will gladly volunteer to spend a few days scrutinising their operating procedures and mentoring the franchisee to help get things back on track.   

“And his impact in the network doesn’t end there: he also takes an active leadership role in the Battery World franchise council. This is time spent away from his own business and he does that because he’s passionate about mentoring others in the small business world.

“Two of the awards we gave Greg this year are not even awarded every year – the Network Leadership Award and entry into the Battery World Hall of Fame.” 

A former auto electrician, Leslie took the Townsville business from a lagging store, when he took control in 2005, to the consistently top-ranked outlet in Australia. His secret is looking after customers and mostly letting sales take care of themselves.

There’s a free service for everything from cleaning battery terminals to sending a staff member to an elderly person’s home to go up the ladder to change their smoke alarm battery. Leslie honours guarantees and warranties pulling out all stops to keep customers happy.

“You do things like that often enough, sooner or later it comes back and pays you back tenfold,” he says.

“Everyone spends, on average, a bit over $3000 for batteries in their lifetime. If I reject a transaction and throw away $3000, I would be an idiot.”

Leslie made the decision to win the Franchisee of the Year on the plane flight home from the 2015 Conference on the Gold Coast.

“We were given a notebook by one of the suppliers and I wrote #1 on the first page,” he says, “on page two I listed what winning would mean to me and why I wanted to win.

“I then listed areas under our control and the actions and disciplines required to improve them. There were numerous ways to improve the store’s performance. Two obvious ones were with inventory control and minimising expenses, but there’s a limit to how low you can go with those, whereas sales have no ceiling,” he says.

“Purchases occur when value exceeds price. If I didn’t want to drop our price I had to increase the value we delivered. Our focus became pushing the limits on how far we could take customer service without exceeding an acceptable level of service for the industry we’re in (it is possible to go too far and make the customer uncomfortable).

“This had become engrained in our DNA. Staff had to continually deliver a great customer experience no matter how they felt on the day. Every function of business existed solely to serve the customer. I decided to stop comparing our level of service to other businesses:  we had to march to our own drum.

“The cycle time for the majority of our sales is quick, two to three minutes, so it’s critical the greeting, diagnosis, prescription and farewell are choreographed to seamlessly occur over and over again.

“The diagnosis and prescription is where trust is solidified. Discovering the battery is fine and the terminals only needed cleaning is one thing: to then not charge a cent for this builds enormous trust with someone you’ve just met,” he says.

“So the results achieved are not from a recipe I can write down and replicate. It’s living a philosophy every day and influencing those around me to live that same philosophy of dispensing trust. When you walk though my door I’ve got your back.”

Leslie believes whether you are in a franchise or an independent small business you’re better off taking the initiative to improve your trade rather than waiting for something to happen.

“Anyone can be accommodating when the customer is handing over money but going over and above when a problem occurs is a talent worth honing,” he says.

“When times are tough, too many businesses will open less, deliver less and appreciate less. We have strived to be more available, more accommodating and more appreciative.

“Customers can live long and happy lives without me, I cannot hope to survive without them.”

5 top tips on being the best franchisee

1. When you’re at work be at work. Ban yourself from Facebook , YouTube and constant emails.

2. There are numerous alternatives for what you deliver, appreciate it’s an honour for the customer to choose you.

3. Everything matters: nothing is neutral. It’s either enhancing or depleting the customer’s experience.

4. Trust takes a lifetime to build and a microsecond to destroy.

5. Protect the brand no matter what the cost.