Business

Family business stocks batteries and bulbs of every shape and size

Matt Phillips and his father, Dan, have opened their fifth Batteries Plus location in Bellevue at 148th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 20th Street. - Chad Coleman/Staff Photo
Matt Phillips and his father, Dan, have opened their fifth Batteries Plus location in Bellevue at 148th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 20th Street.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Staff Photo

A down economy is supposed to lead to contraction, but don’t tell that to Matt and Dan Phillips.

The father and son duo recently opened their fifth Batteries Plus franchise in the state less than three months ago at 148th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 20th Street in Bellevue. It took hours of extra work, and some savvy changes, but the family team has built a stable nest egg of franchises, many of which were born out of the terrible economy.

“During the recession period a lot of people are fixing and prolonging the life of their devices by replacing batteries rather than buying new ones,” said Matt Phillips, now the general manager of the five franchises.

Matt’s father, Dan, owns five of the 13 locations in the state.

Matt Phillips joined the business in 2004, after several years in the real estate industry. Tired of being stuck in a cubicle, Phillips began working in his father’s Olympia store before climbing the ladder. He helped push a renewed commitment to a breadth of product in the stores and quick turnaround on orders that helped launch the family to success.

The stores carry more than 30,000 types of batteries, and 10,000 kinds of light bulbs.

Anyone can buy a battery online, Matt Phillips said, but customers count on the expertise to make sure it is the right one. The stores offer testing of the batteries before sale as well because, Phillips said, batteries are like fruit — they are perishable.

With a background and connections in real estate, the Phillipses were able to take advantage of the poor market to acquire inexpensive rent for the newest store.

Among the five stores, the Phillipses have been able to employ 25 people. Stores range from as high as five employees, all of whom are full time.

“We want to make sure that because we expect our staff to be trained and knowledgeable, and that takes time, they are making a living wage and (being) taken care of,” Matt Phillips said.

The most successful store in the Phillips’ chain remains the original space in Olympia. This store has been a fixture since 1999, while new stores in Tacoma, Tukwila and Puyallup have helped grow the family brand. Phillips said they had been looking to get into the Seattle area for some time. As the economy crashed and rents dropped, the family saw its window and hasn’t looked back.

This level of success took full commitment to the business, Phillips said. He said the corporate structure of Batteries Plus gives the franchise owners everything they need to succeed, but that doesn’t make it easy.

“If you’re not cultivating an atmosphere of customer service and sales, and you can’t spend time to stock and maintain proper inventory, you can fail in this business.”

For more, go to www.batteriesplus.com.

 

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